Bike Lanes in Cedar Rapids Still Confusing for Motorists, Cyclists

By Brady Smith, Reporter

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By Brady Smith

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Bike lanes are part of a recent push by the city of Cedar Rapids to make its streets more friendly to cyclists. One local cycling group, the Linn County Trails Association, is concerned that the lanes are being misused by both bike riders and motorists.

“It’s confusing to the public, it’s confusing to the bicyclers, the motorists, and it’s also confusing to law enforcement as well,” said Cedar Rapids Police Sergeant Cristy Hamblin, speaking to the difficulties of figuring out who has the right of way when it comes to cyclists and motorists, both of which drive over bike lanes.

Sgt. Hamblin says the city’s push for more bike-friendly streets is a positive thing, but the public needs clarification about the locations and rules of bike lanes.

“We’re still researching to find out where in the state law it covers bicycle lanes. Where are the right-of-ways for bicycle lanes?” she explained.

Hamblin said cyclists should not let their guard down just because they have a lane to themselves. Some riders say bigger, bolder indicators of where the lanes begin and end might make them feel safer.

“Unless they make it real obvious and apparent that they’re a bike lane — the small lane — by writing right on the pavement that this is a bike lane, otherwise people are going to be confused,” said Ken Brine, who was riding his bike on a nearby trail.

However, not everyone feels that way.

“I think they’re very well marked,” said Heidi Smith, who rides with her children through the bike lanes from time to time. “The traffic, too, is very attentive to bikers downtown.”

Steve Hershner, President of the Linn County Trails Association, wants to work with the city with outreach and education, as more bike lanes are installed.

“We as bike riders need to respect the lanes, and watch for neighbors who are maybe pulling into driveways, because they have every right to cross that lane,” Hershner said.

Hamblin said cyclists still need to obey the same traffic laws as vehicles, no matter where they are.

“They have to stop at the stop light, they have to stop at stop signs, you can’t go the wrong way on a one-way street,” she explained.

And, speaking from her own experience, motorists still need to share the road.

“I’ve been in the bike lane, and a car pulled in front of me to make a right-hand turn, which cut me off.”

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