Thursday, February 26, 2009

Iowa Senate Passes Bike Safety Bill

This afternoon, the Iowa Senate passed the bike safety bill (formerly known as the "Bicycle Bill of Rights"). The best quorte of the debate came from, I think, Senator Quirmbach from Story County. He actually borrowed the quote from the character Sancho Panza in the musical Man of La Mancha, "Whether the stone hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the stone it's going to be bad for the pitcher." Special thanks to local Senators Joe Bolkcom and Bob Dvorsky for their support. The bill will face some challenges in the Iowa House, so let your representative know you support the safety of cyclists and they should too!

A portion of the debate focused on bicyclist fatalities. It made me think of my old friend and cycling companion, Kevin Joyce. Kevin was killed by a motorist in June of 1995 while riding to West Branch. RIP Kevin.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Senate File 34 Introduced

From the IBC:

Iowa Senators Joe Bolkcom, William Dotzler, and Matt McCoy introduced the Iowa
Bike Safety Bill. Senate File 34 is a bill for an act relating to the operation of bicycles on a street or highway, providing requirements for motor vehicle operators encountering other vehicles or bicycles, and providing penalties.

The legislation changes the Code of Iowa to reflect basic changes in bicycle operation, like using your right arm pointing right for a right turn signal and stopping the requirement to honk at pedestrians. The bill also clarifies bicycle access by prohibiting locals laws that dangerously force cyclists onto the sidewalks and if a cyclists uses a crosswalk motorists are required to yield. The bill amends Iowa Code to require a five foot passing distance, safe following distance for bicycles. Additional laws require drivers to check for conflicts before opening a door in a traffic lane and drivers cannot interfere with bikes taking the lane if the lane is too narrow for safe passing.

Senate File 34 was assigned to the Transportation Committee. Within the Senate Transportation Committee, the bill was assigned to the subcommittee:

Senator Matt McCoy
Senate District 31
Des Moines

Senator Kim Reynolds
Senate District 48

Senator Daryl Beall
Senate District 25
Fort Dodge

Find your legislator and contact them.

Personal letters are always appreciated. Remember to stick to only one or two issues at a time, provide real-life personal examples, and be polite. Also, don't forget to carefully proofread your letter. Send your letter, addressed simply to: "Dear Rep." (fill in the name) or "Dear Sen." (fill in the name), Iowa Senate or Iowa House of Representatives, State Capitol Building, Des Moines, IA 50319.

Every lawmaker now has an e-mail address and many even prefer this method of communication. Keep in mind, however, that most legislators prefer to use e-mail for quick and simple messages. If you have a detailed message, it's probably best to send it via regular mail.

When speed is of the essence, you can always phone a quick message in to your legislator by calling 515-281-3371 (Senate) or 515-281-3221 (House).