Bicycle safety advocates in Iowa are making another try to pass state legislation that was considered last year but stalled amid a lack of support from lawmakers.
Senate File 450 would require a motorist overtaking a bicycle in the same lane to pass to the left in an adjacent travel lane or on the opposite side of the roadway. The motorist could not return to the right side of the road until the vehicle was clear of the bicycle.
However, the provisions would not apply if the bicyclist was traveling on a paved shoulder or a designated bicycle lane.
The bill also requires bicycles operating at night to have front- and rear-facing lights, although a local government could authorize a rear reflector in place of rear-facing lights.
The legislation was advanced Monday on a 3-0 Iowa Senate subcommittee vote, sending it for consideration to the full Senate Transportation Committee.
Violators of the proposed passing rules could be subject to fines of $100 or $250, depending on the circumstances. Additional penalties could be imposed in cases of serious injury or death. The fine for a violation of the light requirements would be $25, but the citation would be dropped if the problem was fixed within 72 hours.
Lawmakers who considered the bill Monday asked some questions of advocates of the proposal, but didn't amend the measure before agreeing to advance it.
"We want to keep bicyclists safe in Iowa," said Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, who chaired the panel. "We want them to be healthy and safe and this is something we should do and move forward.”
Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, said bicycle advocates from throughout the state are encouraging their legislators to support the bill.
"We think we have an opportunity to promote cycling safety and it’s going to make a big difference," Wyatt said.