On February 23, 2015, the Iowa Senate convened a subcommittee on Senate File 241. The bill simply strikes reflectors from Iowa law and requires all bicyclists to use a red rear-facing light when operating a bicycle from dusk to dawn.
It was filed by Sen. Johnson (R-Ocheyedan) at the request of a constituent. The senator said it was in response to a bicycle crash. A person driving a motorcycle came upon teenagers bicycling on a rural highway without lights (per news reports). There are very few details about the crash available.
The Iowa Bicycle Coalition was supportive on the safety efforts of the bill, but were not clear on the science behind the bill. Standards exist for reflectors, but there is a lack of standards surrounding lights. Even a small bulb LED light could satisfy the law and give the rider a false sense of security while riding at night.
The Coalition seeks balance between access and safety and laws that do not prevent people from bicycling.
Some suggestion was given at the meeting about allowing a “fix it ticket” on bicycle lights similar to a burnt-out headlamp which allows 72 hours to repair or replace the lamp. A similar program was used in Iowa City with great compliance. After all, the goal is to have more people with lights and not more people who pay fines.
The subcommittee moved the bill ahead to the Iowa Senate Transportation Committee with amendments to appear on the next bill.