July 5, 2011

Sharing the Road with Bicycles

NEWS FOR YOU…. from the Iowa D.O.T.

By Debra Carney
Driver License Supervisor
Office of Driver Services
Davenport, IA

Did you know that bicycles are a recognized form of transportation in Iowa? Under Iowa law, bicyclists and motorists must comply with the same rules of the road and be given the same rights. Sharing the road means sharing these rights and responsibilities.

Bicyclists may be riding for pleasure or to work, getting some great exercise or participating in organized rides around the state, or in the case of Ragbrai, through the state. Ragbrai begins in Glenwood on July 24 and ends 454 miles later in Davenport on July 30.

As motorists we must be alert, for bicyclists and should realize they are very vulnerable in crashes. If possible, assess the bicyclist’s skills. Just as with motor vehicle operators, bicyclists have varying skill levels.

Inexperienced riders may ignore traffic signs or signals, swerve unexpectedly or appear unsteady while riding.

As a motorist, you need to be ready to yield the right-of-way, even at times the bicyclist should yield to you. They have no defense against a car or truck, so it is your responsibility as a motorist to watch out for them. The following are a few tips for sharing the road with bicyclists:

• LOOK! Then LOOK again! Double check before pulling out from stop signs, traffic lights or making turns. Remember bicyclists typically ride along the right edge of the roadway.
• Allow plenty of room between your vehicle and the bicyclist.
• Do not honk your horn or flash your headlights at bicyclists to avoid startling them.
• Use extra caution during peak traffic hours or in locations with high bicyclist traffic, such as near athletic playing fields or swimming pools.
• Watch for road hazards or trash on the roadway that may cause bicyclists to enter your lane unexpectedly.
• If you have parallel parked your vehicle, check for bicyclists before opening your door.

While driving, if you need to pass a bicyclist, remember they have the same rights that you do:
• Pass as if the bicyclist were a vehicle.
• Wait for oncoming traffic to clear.
• Signal your intent to pass.
• Move to the other lane.
• Check your blind spot before returning to your lane, again using your signal.