The Cedar Rapids Police Department would like to remind both motorists and bicyclists of important laws and safety information to ensure that motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians are able to work together for safe usage of area roadways.
Under Iowa law, bicyclists have a right to use the road and, at the same time, bicyclists must follow the same rules of the road as motorists.
Here are some safety tips and traffic law information:
- Bicyclists have the same rights and obligations as operators of motor vehicles including the responsibility to obey traffic signs and signals (including stop signs and red lights) and must use appropriate hand signals when turning.
- It is recommended that bicyclists wear a helmet. A bicycle helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward, or side to side. The helmet strap must always be buckled, but not too tightly. Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent.
- Bicyclists are allowed to use sidewalks within Cedar Rapids. Bicyclists are not allowed to use the sidewalk in the business district of Cedar Rapids or anywhere that a “no sidewalk riding” sign is posted. When riding on the sidewalk is prohibited, bicyclists must dismount and walk on the sidewalk or ride in the street.
- Bicyclists should ride as far to the right as safely possible. However, a bicyclist is allowed to use the travel lane of a roadway and may use the full lane if they feel that the right edge of the road way is unsafe in any way, including road debris, parked cars, or to ensure safe passing of motorists.
- For improved safety, bicyclists should make eye contact with drivers. Bicyclists should never assume a motorist sees you or that you have the right-of-way.
- Bicyclists should be cautious for parked vehicles pulling into traffic or vehicle doors opening into their path. Special caution is required around parked vehicles as vehicle doors may open unexpectedly; it is recommended that bicyclists not ride within 3 feet of parked vehicles.
- Bicycles shall be equipped with red rear reflectors that can be visible from 300 feet away. If riding a bicycle between sunset and sunrise, the bicycle must display a lamp that emits white light visible from a distance of at least 300 feet from the front of the bicycle. A red light capable of flashing is recommended on the back of a bicycle for increased visibility.
- Motorists are required to pass a bicycle at a safe distance. It may be necessary for a motorist to slow down and wait to pass a bicyclist.
- When in doubt, a motorist should yield to pedestrians and bicyclists.
Pavement Symbols and Bike Lane Information:
- Protected Bike Lane: A protected bike lane is designed for bicycles only. A cyclist is protected from the travel lane by planters, curbs, or parked vehicles. Protected bike lanes separate cyclists from moving vehicles, create a more comfortable experience for those riding bikes, and decrease incidents of “dooring.”
- Conventional Bike Lane: A conventional bike lane is designed for bicycles only. It will be marked with a bicycle and a solid line on each side. Motorists should not cross into these lanes unless they are preparing to turn or park their vehicle. When attempting to turn where a bike lane with solid lines is present, the motorist should merge at least 50 feet prior to the intersection and must yield to oncoming bicyclists.
- Sharrows: A shared lane marking, also known as a sharrow or super sharrow, helps identify where people riding bicycles should be positioned safely on the road to avoid “dooring.” It also reminds motorists to watch for bicycles. Motorists may drive their vehicles as normal but should pass bicyclists on the left side at a safe distance. Super Sharrows indicate where cyclists may use the full travel lane.
- Green Bike Lanes: The City of Cedar Rapids was the first community in Iowa to have green colored bike lanes, which were intended to increase the visibility of the bike lane. The colored lanes are a reminder that bicyclists have priority in the highlighted areas. Motorists must yield to oncoming bicyclists prior to passing through a green bike lane.