Passing laws: Iowa requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance.
Helmet law: There is no state law in Iowa that requires the operator of a bicycle to wear a helmet. However, although not required by law it is strongly recommended.
Vulnerable User Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: Iowa does not have any specific Vulnerable user laws. However, there is a law that states a motor vehicle will not steer unreasonably close to a cyclist and shall not knowingly project an object or substance at a person riding a bicycle. A person who commits the above offense shall have committed a simple misdemeanor.
Distracted Driving Laws: In Iowa there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. A driver of a motor vehicle may not use a telecommunications device to manually type a text message, send a text message or read a text message unless the motor vehicle is at a complete stop off the traveled portion of the roadway.
Where to Ride – Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking Iowa law requires bicyclists to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction; or
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
Sidewalk Riding: There is no statute that either permits or prohibits riding a bicycle on a sidewalk. It is important to note that Iowa does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane. So if there is a sidewalk, the choice of road or sidewalk is yours to make.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: Iowa’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and does NOT apply to bicyclists.
Stop Sign Laws: In Iowa bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and Iowa does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links