A “sample” of the Des Moines subway bicycle ordinance is available

A photo of a bicycle.

A cyclist along a street in downtown Des Moines in 2016. Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP

A regional transportation group has voted indefinitely on whether to recommend a bicycle safety regulation to Des Moines area governments.

  • Concerns about a possible legislative backlash and Metro opposition put the plan on hold last month.

Why it matters: The network of recreation trails in Central Iowa is growing.

  • Improved safety regulations can save lives, proponents of the model regulation claim.

Catch up fast: The recommendations were developed over the past year by the Central Iowa Bicycle and Pedestrian Roundtable.

  • For example, state law requires drivers to give way to pedestrians at crosswalks. The ordinance would include bicycles.
  • Law enforcement would also have more flexibility to issue 72-hour repair notices rather than fine bikers for light or reflector violations.
  • Group members work with several transportation groups in central Iowa, including the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

zoom in: The model regulation is intended to assist local governments in regulating non-vehicle traffic in jurisdictions where there is limited state or federal regulation.

  • If adopted, it would make it easier to enforce safe overtaking or distance laws and more clearly define technologies like e-bikes that have been developed in recent years.

What you say: State lawmakers could view the ordinance as an overstatement and take steps to block it, West Des Moines Mayor Russ Trimble warned MPO members at a meeting last month.

  • And if some local communities refuse to pass the ordinance, it could leave a patchwork of unequal rules across the subway, Trimble said before the MPO agreed to table the plan.

Game Status: The regulation is effectively in a “wait and see” position to see if changes can be made at the state level, Gunnar Olson, a spokesman for the MPO, told Axios last week.

  • The policy could be revived, but there’s no timeline for that right now, Olson said.

Remarkable: MPO recommendations are generally considered regional best practice.

  • Local governments could adopt the ordinance without the MPO’s nod.


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