Talking Points Memo
Bicycle Safety & Safe Passing Bill
Bills: House File 513 & Senate File 450
Committee: House Transportation & Senate Transportation
Managers: Rep. John Wills & Sen. Roby Smith
Clarifies passing of bicycles similar to passing of vehicles.
- Language is same as passing for motor vehicles, but allows paved shoulders and bike lanes to be considered adjacent lanes.
- Already in DOT driver manual, supported by Iowa Attorney General, and 2001 Supreme Court ruling.
- Still confusion remains with courts, law enforcement, and public. Language provides clarity.
- Can be taught in driver education courses.
- Easy to learn, teach, and enforce.
- Bicyclists have noticed an improvement in past year. Fatal overtaking crashes dropped in past year.
- Change lanes adopted by Nevada and Delaware. 26 other states have 3’ distance or more.
Improves lights on bikes at night
- Removes option to use reflector at night. Only lights are allowed.
- Creates fix-it ticket option similar to vehicle headlights out. Allows 72 hours to repair or replace light. Must sign & return an affidavit.
- Will impact low income population, but prices on night-visible lights have dropped and front light is required.
Passing in a no pass zone
- Legal in Colorado (mountains) and recently adopted in Illinois.
- Only applies to passing bicycles.
- Cannot pass with oncoming vehicles, near crest of hill, bridge, intersection, etc.
- Same language that restricts passing in a passing zone.
- Bicyclists traveling less than the maximum speed are often passed.
There was an amendment last year that killed this bill. We have heard there may be an amendment again. This bill is about safe driving and prohibiting motorists from buzzing bicyclists, passing dangerously, and driving unsafe. Safe passing should be the standard practice of motorists and illegal if it isn’t. Daytime visibility is a separate issue that needs more examination.
- We urge bicyclists to be visible, but mandate may not be the best answer.
- Studies are conflicting and no evidence of crash reduction.
- Risk of target fixation may cause crashes. (Public safety is very aware of this risk)
- Practicality may be difficult. (What colors? How much of colors? What angle of visibility? Does reflective count?)
- Compliance may be difficult. (Will public know? Out of staters? Will they choose to comply?)
- False sense of security (Will it cause risk taking from assumption of visibility? Will lights be replaced in darkness or fog?)
- Questions on where law might apply (crossing road, trail in right-of-way, etc)
- No other state has this mandate.
- DOT has a Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator and Advisory committee. Recommend study of issue and report back to legislature with recommendations.