IOWA BICYCLE LAWS
For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Jim Freeman directly.
Right to the Road
- Iowa bicyclists generally have the same rights, and same duties, as drivers of motor vehicles.
- Sirens are not permitted on bicycles except for used by a police or fire department.
- There is no statewide requirement for helmet use.
Where to Ride
- Bicycles are to ride as close as practicable and safe to the right side of the roadway except when overtaking another vehicle or when preparing to make a left turn.
- Iowa state law is silent as to bicycling on the sidewalk, but some municipalities prohibit sidewalk biking.
- Iowa City – City Plaza or Commercial District
- Cedar Rapids – Business District
- Fairfield – Central Business District
Bike Lanes, Bike Paths and Multi-Use Paths
- Iowa bicyclists are not required to ride in or upon bike lanes or paths.
Stop Signs and Traffic Control Devices
- Bicyclists are required to come to a full and complete stop at all stop signs and traffic lights displaying a red signal.
- Bicyclists must use hand/arm signals when turning and stopping.
- Left turn – Left hand and arm extended horizontally.
- Right turn – Left hand and arm extended upward.
- Stop or decrease of speed – Left hand and arm extended downward.
Actions Against Bicyclists
- A driver shall not steer a vehicle toward a bicyclist.
- It is illegal to throw an object or substance at a bicyclist.
Vulnerable User Law
- Iowa has additional penalties that may be imposed in a collision that results in the injury or death of a cyclist.
- Iowa state law does not address how many riders may ride abreast.
- Come towns or cities may have their own restrictions.
- Iowa City – Single file
- No texting while driving
- Every bicycle must equipped with a white front facing headlight, and a red rear reflector or light, visible from at least 300 feet when used at nighttime.
- Lights must be used sunset to sunrise and when conditions provide insufficient lighting to see a person at a distance of five hundred feet. Conditions may include fog, snow, and rain.
Electric Assist Bikes
- “Bicycle” includes an E-bike with pedals and an eclectic assist motor of less than 750 watts (one horsepower) with a maximum unassisted speed of less than twenty miles per hour.