Mar 14, 2024 - News

Iowa's crosswalk loophole doesn't protect cyclists, people in wheelchairs

Illustration of a group of people crossing a crosswalk with exclamation points for lines

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A crosswalk loophole in Iowa law excludes drivers who hit people using bicycles, strollers or even wheelchairs from facing the same consequences as those who injure pedestrians who are walking.

Why it matters: A small change in Iowa code (HF2568) could better protect all people crossing roads, according to a policy brief by the University of Iowa.

State of play: Iowa's crosswalk laws require drivers to yield for pedestrians and imposes criminal charges if they injure or kill someone.

  • But pedestrian is defined as people who are "afoot," according to Cara Hamann, an injury epidemiologist at UI.
  • The bill would extend crosswalk protections to all vulnerable road users, including to people using e-bikes, scooters and skateboards.

Zoom in: Between 2018-23, crashes between cars and vulnerable road users occurred in 19 Iowa cities, including Ankeny, Des Moines, Waukee and West Des Moines.

  • Out of those in the Des Moines metro, Ankeny is the only one with a city code that also protects cyclists in crosswalks, according to the UI report.

The big picture: Minnesota, Nebraska and Illinois already have similar crosswalk laws.

What's next: The bill is eligible for full Senate debate.

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