Owning and Riding
Your Bicycle in Iowa City

Iowa City/Coralville Area Online Resource
Brought to you by JEONET.

It is the policy of the City of Iowa City to encourage bicycling as a legitimate means of transportation to and from school or work, and as a recreational activity. To do this, the City has attempted to create and maintain a safe environment for bicycling in Iowa City.


When you are riding your bicycle on the roadway you are subject to the same traffic rules as apply to motorists. This includes rules pertaining to stop signs, traffic lights, exceeding the speed limit, one-way streets, and changing lanes. If you are charged with a traffic violation, you are subject to the same fines and penalties as a motorist.


In certain areas of Iowa City bikeways are provided to make bicycling easier and safer. These may be in the form of BIKE LANES, a painted lane for bicycles on the street, or multi-user trails, separate facilities for bicyclists and other users that are not part of the roadway. In a bike lane you must ride in the same direction as adjacent motor vehicle traffic. On a trail you should stay to the right except when passing, and you should give an audible warning when passing, such as "bike on your left".


Sidewalks are designed primarily for pedestrians. It is unlawful for bicyclists to ride upon the downtown pedestrian mall, known as City Plaza, or upon the sidewalk in the commercial district within the city which includes the downtown central business district. Outside of commercial districts, bicyclists are permitted upon sidewalks but must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian.


Persons riding bicycles on the roadway shall ride single file. Bicycles are entitled to a full lane of the roadway. However, you should stay as far to the right as is practicable, except when making a left turn or when traveling at the same speed as a motor vehicle, such as, when traveling downhill. Watch out for doors opening on parked cars and pedestrians walking out from between parked cars.


Anyone riding a bicycle must sit on a seat which is a regular part of the bicycle. A bicycle is not to be ridden by more than one person unless it is a tandem bicycle intended for such use.

Don't try to carry anything which will prevent you from keeping both hands on the handlebars.


If you ride your bike between the hours of sunset and sunrise, you must have a headlight. The light must be white and visible at least 500 feet from the front of your bicycle. The rear of your bike should have a light or reflective surface visible from at least 300 feet. It is a good idea to wear light-colored or reflective clothing when riding at night.


Don't park your bike where it will obstruct pedestrian or motor vehicle travel. There are bike racks conveniently located throughout downtown Iowa City, the University of Iowa, at all the schools, and at many businesses outside of downtown. If you are within 300 feet of a bike rack, you must park at that rack. Bicycles parked on public property in a commercial district shall not be attached to poles, parking meters, signs, trees, trash receptacles, street hardware, or any permanent structure. Always attempt to lock the frame and both wheels of your bike to the bike rack. If your bike is illegally parked or left in a place where it is obstructing traffic or creating a hazard, it is subject to being impounded by the police.


Thieves often avoid things with identifying marks. The following two methods are recommended:
  1. Register your bike with the Iowa City Police Department and keep a record of that registration.
  2. Record your bicycle's information (Make, Size, Type, Color, Serial Number, Police Registration Number, and Identifying Marks) and put the information in a safe place.
  3. Engrave your bike with your Iowa Driver's license number or the license number of the head of your household.


If your bike is stolen on the University of Iowa property, contact University Department of Public Safety at (319) 335-5022. If your bike is stolen anywhere else in Iowa City, contact the Iowa City Police Department at (319) 356-5275. Give a detailed description of the bike including the above numbers. They can be the best assurance that your bike will be returned to you if it is found.

If you should see someone riding your bike after it has been stolen, get a description of the person and the location. Then call the police. Do not try to recover the bicycle yourself.


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