For bicyclists, finding ways to stay safe while on the roads means taking precautions with bright clothing and lights.

Even with those measures, cyclists say they still find themselves in dangers all too often.

Last years, the Iowa Bike Coalition counted seven fatal bicycling accidents, most involving a collision with a vehicle.

In Iowa, bicycles have the same rights to the road as any motored vehicle. 

While bike paths can provide a less frightening and congested ride, they can only take people pedaling so far.

That means venturing out onto the streets, especially for those relying on bicycles as their primary form of transportation and for some, it’s a necessity, while others choose to make the trip.

QC Bicycling Club Advocate Tom Donahoe said, “I bike to work and for errands every day.”

Those miles logged on the bike have left Tom Donahoe with stories of close calls.

“When I’ve had near misses or even collisions with motor vehicles, in some cases, I’ve been wearing high-vis clothing, and so I think the high-vis doesn’t get at the root problem, which is really, people not paying attention,” said Donahoe. 

And he’s not the only cyclist who said the threat of a collision is something face far too frequently.

Donnie Miller, a professional bicycle safety expert, said, “I’ve been hit by three cars in my 48 years of cycling.”

Cyclist Dean Mathias said, “Both me and my wife have been hit by cars, and it doesn’t matter, even high-vis, it doesn’t mean a signal thing if the person in the car is not looking.”

That has some Iowa politicians looking at how to make the road safer for those on two wheels.
One specific piece of legislation, HF 2341 first introduced last year is now back in front of lawmakers.

“Started out last year as a bill requiring motorists to change lanes in order to pass a bicycle.” Donahoe said, “It had a really good beginning.”

But an addition to the bill would require cyclists to wear 144-square inches or equivalent to a 12 by 12 square of high-visibility on the road with a speed limit of 45 miles per hours or more.

It would be for those riding in a group of 500 and less.

It has cyclists seeking to hit the brakes.

Their main concerns, what it’ll mean for the responsibility of safety and liability in crashes.

QC Bicycle Club President James Hudson said, “Person doesn’t have sufficient high vis clothing, on back of their or whatever they’re wearing could be found at fault even though they did nothing wrong other than not have the right clothes on. We don’t like that.”

QC Bicycle Clue President James Hudson, a retired police officer, said it would also be hard to regulate. 

Even though it’s an item many avid cyclists already wear, they said it takes the focus off the main issue in tackling safety, distractions on the road.

Miller said, “It doesn’t matter if it’s the cell phone, the radio, the other occupants in the car.”

To address that, cyclists say drivers need to focus more on the basics.

Miller said, “The first rule that we all learned when we got a driver’s license was duty of care. It is your responsibility to not hurt yourself or others while performing the act of driving a motor vehicle.”

Another concern cyclists have is the cost.

They say for those who ride a bike because it’s all they can afford. Dishing out hundreds of dollars in some cases for a high visibility jacket or jersey just isn’t an option. 

Miller said it’s important for cyclists to ride with the flow of traffic and to pass on the left, along with following traffic signs and laws. 

Miller also said in cities, it’s illegal to ride on sidewalks because it is a danger to those walking and cyclists would have to give the right of way to pedestrians.

He adds they do suggest kids be taught to ride on the sidewalk, but when speeds get about eight miles an hour, that’s when concerns arise. 

In Bettendorf, police report seven bicycling accidents in 2016, five resulting in injuries but no deals. In 2017, there were no bicycles and cars. So far in 2018, there is one accident but it’s not associated with any injuries.