It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Iowa. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here).
This is a general overview of Iowa’s bicycle laws. To see them in their completion, please visit Iowa’s Department of Transportation. Feel free to reach out to Bike Law’s National Director Rachael Maney for further information.
Right to the Road
Bicycles are not defined as vehicles but generally have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers.
Where to Ride
- Bicyclists are required to ride as far to the right of the road as practicable and safe, when traveling less than the speed of traffic, except when overtaking another vehicle or when preparing to make a left turn.
- Bicyclists may (but are not required to) utilize any usable bicycle lane.
- State law is silent on bicyclists riding on sidewalks, but bicyclists should be sure to check local ordinance for specific rules.
HOW TO RIDE
- State law is silent on bicyclists riding more than one abreast, but bicyclists should be sure to check local ordinances for specific rules.
- Bicyclists are required to slow down and come to a complete stop at stop signs and traffic devices signaling red.
- Bicyclists must signal when turning or coming to a stop.
Bicyclists Overtaking Cars
Bicyclists on roadways must exercise due care when passing on the left of a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
Cars Overtaking Bicyclists
Motor vehicle drivers are required to pass bicyclists at a safe distance.
At night, a bicycle must be equipped with a front white light and a rear red tail light, both visible from at least 300 feet away. A red reflector might be used in addition to the rear light.
- A bicycle may not carry more than the number of persons for which it is designed, except an adult rider carrying a child securely in a backpack or sling.
- Sirens are prohibited on bicycles, except when used by a police or fire department.
- Bicyclists may not ride other than upon or astride a permanent attached regular seat.
Motor Vehicles and Bicyclists
- Motor vehicle drivers are not allowed to steer their motor vehicles unreasonably toward bicyclists.
- People may not intentionally project any object or substance at bicyclists.
- Motor vehicle drivers must reduce their speed to a reasonable and proper rate when passing or approaching slow moving vehicles, i.e. bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Penalties for Crash Victim
Iowa has additional penalties which may be imposed if a crash results in the injury or death of a bicyclist.