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Bicyclists on Roads: Iowa AG Says Some Cities Violating Law

Some cities have laws prohibiting bikes from the roadway, which is not in compliance with Iowa Code, according to the Iowa Attorney General's office.

At least two cities in Iowa - one that's in Dallas and Polk Counties and one in Johnson County - have laws that violate state code that states bicyclists in Iowa have the same rights to the roadway as cars.

Grimes and North Liberty appear to be violating the law by limiting cyclists use of the roadways, according to a report by the Des Moines Register. Grimes code requires that cyclists use a path when it is available, according to the article.

The Iowa Attorney's General office sent a letter to the city of Grimes last month notifying the town that it's not legal to prohibit bikes on roadways.

Grimes is one of several Iowa communities, including North Liberty, with ordinances that limit bike riders from using city streets along with motor vehicles.

Iowa Code states that cyclists have the same rights as all drivers, Deputy Attorney General Julie Pottorff wrote. While local governments have the power to regulate the operation of bicycles, registration and licensing, elected officials are not allowed to contradict bicyclists’ rights as a driver.

“In light of the statutory language of Iowa Code, we believe it is clear that the city of Grimes cannot by ordinance prohibit bicycles from using the roadways, including a city street, and require bicyclists instead to use a bike path that is available,” Pottorff wrote.

Grimes Mayor Tom Armstrong said the town would look at the law and make changes if necessary, while North Liberty Mayor Tom Salm said he was caught be surprise that his town's code was violating the law and that they would take up the issue in the next couple months. Salm said the law is not enforced.

State Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, and Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City, brought the matter to the Attorney General's office after being contacted by the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

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