A recent letter suggested banning bicycles from streets like Covington Road, where there is insufficient room for motor vehicles to pass bicycles within the same lane, and insinuated cyclists cause crashes simply by riding on these streets. An examination of Iowa law exposes a lack of legal basis behind such claims.
Under the law, cyclists are afforded the same rights and responsibilities for road use as motorists. Cyclists should ride “as close as practicable” to the right roadway edge, but if a cyclist is not comfortable on the edge due to debris, poor conditions, etc., he or she may use the entire lane.
Trailing motorists must treat passing the cyclist like passing another motor vehicle. If they cannot be patient, and try to pass the cyclist within the lane, the motorist is at fault for any resulting crash.
The letter also questioned why, given the growing local network of designated bike facilities, cyclists even use roads like Covington. The city’s prioritizing of bicycle infrastructure is commendable, but restricting bicycles to only designated facilities would still render much of the metro area inaccessible via bike and make cycling a less practical mode of transportation.
For numerous reasons, including environmental and health benefits, we should make cycling easier for people to embrace, not harder. Motorists must realize they are not more important than, and do not have priority over, other road users.
If someone wants to add bike lanes to Covington and make everyone happier, all the better!