Share the Road with Bicycles
Press Release #1: Bicycles Are Traffic
Sharing the Road With Bicycles in Iowa: Bicycles Are Traffic According to Iowa Law
As warmer weather nears, more Iowans will encounter more people riding bicycles. All motorists are urged to drive carefully and pay expect people on bicycles. People have the same right to ride bicycles on the same roadways as cars and trucks. Iowa Code 321.234 states bike riders have the same rights as the driver of a vehicle.
Bicyclists also have the have the same responsibilities as drivers, except by nature where the Iowa Code doesn’t apply. For example, bicycles have to stop at stop signs or signals just like cars.
You should expect people riding bicycles everywhere. The only exceptions are interstates or highways with minimum speed limits where bicycle travel is prohibited. Since bicycles may be anywhere, you should look for bicycles in all directions, including over your shoulder when turning.
When approaching a bicycle from behind, you may safely pass the person riding a bike. However, the best advice is to slow down and give yourself time and distance to judge the speed of the bicyclist and oncoming vehicles.
Drivers must use “a safe and reasonable passing distance” with bike riders. The rule is to change lanes to pass bicyclists. The oncoming lane must be clear to pass. When passing, don’t return to the right side of the road until you are safely past the bicyclist.
Don’t follow bike riders too closely. As with any vehicle on the road, faster moving traffic should always yield to slower moving traffic. Yield to a bike just like you yield to a car.
Motorists should always drive with regard for the safety of others. To be safe, expect bicycles on any roadway. If you encounter a person riding a bicycle, slow your speed, pass only if the oncoming lane is clear and change lanes to pass. Yield your car to a bicycle just like you would for any vehicle.
Share the Road with Bicycles
Press Release #2: Expect Bicycle Traffic
Sharing the Road With Bicycles in Iowa: Where should drivers expect to see people on bicycles?
Drivers should expect people to ride bicycles on roadways shared with other vehicles, paved shoulders along roads, bike lanes, and trails. Bicyclists can ride on any roadway except Interstate highways and roads with minimum speed limits.
People riding bicycles are not required to use a bike lane or trail if one is nearby. There are very good reasons to not use the bike lane or trail. There could be debris or dangerous potholes. The bike path could also be crowded. Bicyclists destination makes it inconvenient or impractical. It’s the driver’s responsibility to give the bike rider the benefit of the doubt.
Don’t honk or yell if you see a bicyclist riding on the road.
If a driver is crossing a bike lane or trail, the first action for a driver is to slow down and stop if needed. Look in all directions for approaching bike riders. If you need to cross a bike lane, proceed across the lane like you would change lanes and only when the bike lane is clear.
If you are driving near a trail crossing be sure yield to bicyclists on trail. Always check your blind spots and mirrors. Yield to persons on bikes the same way you yield to pedestrians, but remember that bicyclists are faster than walkers.
Drivers may encounter signs and road markings that will indicate the presence of bike riders. Sharrows (otherwise known as shared lane pavement markings) are guidance for bike rider positioning. Green bike lane markings make the bike lane stand out. Bike route/wayfinding signs signify the best routes to popular destinations. Share the Road signs remind drivers that bike riders have the same legal right to the roadway. School speed zones helps slow traffic during peak hours.
In conclusion, drivers should expect to see bicyclists on roads, trails, paved shoulders, or bike lanes. If driving near a bike lane or trail, slow down and look in all directions for people on bikes. Keep an eye out for signs and pavement markings that indicate bicycle traffic.
Share the Road with Bicycles
Press Release #3: Expect Bicycle Traffic
Sharing the Road With Bicycles in Iowa: How to drive safely near bicycles.
Iowa drivers could encounter a person on a bike anytime. The best advice for any driver is to slow down when you approach a person on a bike.
You can pass a person on a bike, but you need to make sure the left lane is clear of oncoming traffic. Move a safe and reasonable distance to the left of the person on a bike by changing lanes. Allow room in case the person riding moves to avoid obstacles. Don’t return to the right until safely past the bicyclist. Don’t try to squeeze in when you don’t have enough time or room. Designated ‘No Passing” Zones mean that you cannot pass.
Treat passing the bike rider as you would treat passing a car.
If you are driving at an intersection with bikes, slow your speed. If you need to pass the bicyclist, wait to pass after an intersection. A common crash scenario is when a car passes and immediately turns right. If following a bicycle, but need to turn soon, follow safely and avoid passing. Use your turn signal when turning right. Look and scan your blind spots before you turn the wheel.
Frequent crashes also occur when motorists are turning left. Keep in mind, bicyclists may be coming from opposite direction on a trail. Slow or stop before turning left, look for people in the oncoming lane, and check your mirrors and scan over your shoulder. Always signal when turning.
Expect bike traffic on sidewalks and trails near roads. It is easy to overlook people on bicycles. Bicycles may approach from either direction and may be traveling faster than you think.. Children bicycling on sidewalks are not able to judge moving traffic.
Bicyclists on the roadways may pass cars that are stopped or parked. Passengers or drivers who open doors into moving traffic can cause crashes. People riding bicycles will try to avoid the door zone when passing and will ride to the left cars several feet outside parked cars. Be sure to check your mirror before opening the door to your vehicle. Close your door after loading and unloading.
If you are unable to pass a bicyclist, don’t honk or tailgate. You can startle the bicyclist and potentially cause a life threatening accident. People on bikes riding on roads have the legal right. The bicyclist may be riding to the left to avoid car doors and to be visible to drivers. The bicyclist may be avoiding obstacles like pot-holes and debris. It’s better to slow down, give the bike rider the space.
Avoid ANYTHING which may impair your ability to drive safely. Do not send text messages while driving. Do not consume drugs or alcohol and drive impaired. Do not allow yourself to get distracted while driving.
Drivers should operate vehicles with regard for the safety of others. This means drivers should slow their speed and change lanes to pass if it safe to pass. Crashes at intersections can be avoided by slowing and scanning in all directions. Most of all, do not drive distracted or impaired.