Iowa considers three foot passing law

Three is a magic number

Iowa legislators have introduced three bills for the 2013 session, each of which amends Iowa vehicle code to require at least three feet of space when a motorist passes a cyclist.

H.F. 151 by Ron Jorgensen (R) of Sioux City requires the driver of a motor vehicle,to maintain a safe distance of at least three feet between the motor vehicle and the bicycle. This safe passing distance applies whether the cyclist is in the roadway, in a bike lane, or in the road shoulder. Violating this law can subject the driver to a $100 fine. If violation of the safe passing law causes serious injury, the court can impose a fine of up to $500, a drivers license suspension of up to 90 days, or both. A violation resulting in death doubles those penalties to $1,000 and 180 days. This bill is currently in the House Transportation Committee, of which Jorgensen is a member.

Representatives Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D – Cedar Rapids), Bob Kressig (D – Cedar Falls), and Sharon Steckman (D – Mason City) have introduced H.F. 244. 244 requires the motorist to change lanes to pass bicycles and give at least three feet of passing space. The bill also allows drivers to cross a solid yellow centerline when safe to pass cyclists, “implements of husbandry” (e.g. farm tractors and combines), and vehicles displaying the slow-moving vehicle reflective triangle (e.g. Amish buggies). Additionally, this bill adds a “fix it” clause for bicyclists who are cited for failure to use lights at night – show the court you’ve added the required headlights and reflectors for night riding, and avoid paying the $25 fine. Like H.F. 151, this bill is currently in the House Transportation Committee.

Finally, Iowa Senators Joe Bolkcom (D – Iowa City), William Dotzler, Jr. (D – Waterloo), Robert Dvorsky (D – Coralville), and Matt McCoy (D – Des Moines) introduce d S.F. 157. This is the Senate version of H.F. 244.

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition are tracking these and other bike safety bills and include contact information for legislators.

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