A proposal to require Iowa bicycle riders to have a rear-facing bicycle light between sunset and sunrise has stalled in the Iowa Senate after a bicycle advocacy group declined to endorse the measure and legislators had their own questions.

Senate File 18, sponsored by Sen. David Johnson, I-Ocheyedan, failed to advance Wednesday before a three-member Senate subcommittee. The proposal stemmed from an incident in the past in northwest Iowa's Lyon County, which is inside Johnson's legislative district. A man was riding a motorcycle at night and came upon three bicyclists in the same lane on a county road ahead of him who were not using rear lights. A crash resulted, which led to the motorcyclist and two bicycle riders being injured.

Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, said it's unusual for his organization to be undecided on a safety issue, but he appreciated the Legislature considering the proposal. However, he noted that bicycles are not legally required now to be sold with lights, and that federal consumer safety officials make an assumption that bicycles are generally not ridden at night. In addition, most bicycle crashes do not happen at night, he said.

State law currently requires a bicycle rider to use a front lighted lamp and a rear lighted lamp or a rear reflector when it's dark outside. Wyatt noted that technology varies widely for bicycle lights and he said rural Iowans don't have as many retailers that sell bicycle lights as urban residents have.

“You cannot walk into Casey’s store and get a bike light. It is more convenient to get a cell phone in rural lowa than a bike light," he said.

Wyatt also said there are significant differences between riding a bicycle on a rural road and a city street at night, and many cities already have ordinances regulating bicycle lights and reflectors.

We need a little give & take. I think most cyclists are on board with using lights. I know cyclists want more protection from/with the law. Our legislature could give two #$%$% about us

#1 - MrPeske posted Jan 31, 2017

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