Government

Preparing for bike share program, Cedar Rapids changes bike, scooter rules

A pictograph marks the bike lane on Second Avenue Southeast in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. The painted bike lanes are a new addition to downtown Cedar Rapids' network of  bike-friendly streets. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
A pictograph marks the bike lane on Second Avenue Southeast in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. The painted bike lanes are a new addition to downtown Cedar Rapids' network of bike-friendly streets. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — In advance of the launch next month of a new downtown bike share, the Cedar Rapids City Council approved new rules Tuesday regulating the use of electric-assist bikes and electric-assist scooters in the city core.

Key changes include restricting e-bikes and e-scooters from downtown sidewalks — from which traditional bicycles already are banned — between First Avenue SE/SW and 16th Avenue SE/SW and Second Street SW and Fifth Street SE; and prohibiting “dooring” or opening a vehicle door without ensuring it does not interfere with another moving person or vehicle. The latter rule will help determine liability in a collision.

“We didn’t have anything about e-scooters or e-bikes in our ordinance and we have the bike share coming,” Mayor Brad Hart said. “We are creating a zone in downtown and Kingston Village where we prohibit bikes and scooters on sidewalks because that’s were we have a lot of people walking. And, we have bike lanes and want people to use those.”

This first year of the bike share will operate between May and October. The initial fleet will include 150 electric-assist bicycles in May, followed by 20 fat-tire bikes based at Mount Trashmore arriving later in the summer, and a pilot program including 30 electric stand-up scooters beginning in late August.

City officials believe the electric scooters will be popular with college students, but hope to determine if they are a good fit for the city.

In other news, the council:

• Agreed to the appointment of Greg T. Smith as the new fire chief. City Manager Jeff Pomeranz picked Smith after interviewing four finalists. More than 60 candidates applied as part of a national search to replace Mark English, who retired last year.

“In addition to the time Greg has spent with the department,” Pomeranz said of Smith’s 24 years serving in Cedar Rapids, “he is a natural leader. I had numerous employees, and in particular employees from the Fire Department, come talk to me about why Greg would be the best person as a leader for the department.”

His annual salary was set at $127,483.20.

• Agreed to new three-year contracts with several of its collective bargaining units.

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Members of the Cedar Rapids Association of Firefighters will see a 4 percent increase in year one, 3.5 percent in year two and another 3.5 percent in year three.

Members of the Chauffeurs, Teamsters and Helpers Union will see 3 percent increases in each year of the contract.

Members of the Cedar Rapids Police Bargaining Union will see 3 percent increases each year for non-sworn positions and 4 percent, 3.5 percent and another 3.5 percent for sworn positions.

Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union will see 3 percent increases each year.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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