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Ask a Trooper: Bicycles obeying traffic control devices

May 27, 2015
By Trooper Vince Kurtz - Iowa State Patrol Safety Education , Estherville News

Q: I enjoy riding bicycle with my family around town. One of my frustrations with other bikers is when they run through stop signs or yield signs without considering the possible outcomes. Can you write an article that talks about what the law is in this area?

A: This is a topic that ranks right up there with Dad putting his helmet on for the bike ride. Here is how it usually goes at my house.

Dad (me) puts his bike helmet on as the family gets geared up for the ride. Eldest daughter looks over at Dad and stops abruptly. "Dad, are you really going to wear that helmet?" Dad realizes that his helmet is 'un-cool'. But the rules are there for a reason. "Yes, I am. You know the rules." Dad replies. This is immediately met with a sharp eye roll from said daughter as she pedals off ahead. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Stopping at stop signs around town is almost the same debate. The most common argument is, "but there isn't anyone coming". That may be true this time, but it won't be the case every time. Out comes the earlier mentioned eye roll.

Iowa code section 321.234 requires bicyclists to obey all motor vehicle codes just like a car would. This includes stopping and yielding at traffic control devices, but also applies to riding on the right hand side of the road. Section 321.397 requires bicyclists to be equipped with a headlamp and red tail lamp (or reflector) for operation after sunset.

While these sections are commonly overlooked by many bicyclists riding around town, the rules are there to protect us. Unspeakable crashes involving bicycles happen daily throughout our country. These crashes never end well for the bicyclist.

Please take the extra time to obey traffic control devices on your next bike ride. That eye roll you get may end up saving a life.

"Ask a Trooper" is a reader-directed, bi-monthly publication that appears in 31 newspapers across western Iowa. Submit your question to Trooper Kurtz at Follow the Iowa State Patrol in northwest Iowa on Twitter @TrooperKurtz and



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