On March 31, 2015 the Iowa Senate voted 45-5 in favor of a new law that requires bicycles to have a rear-facing light activated between sunset and sunrise. Senate File 424 imposes a $25 fine for cyclists found riding without this rear light but allows a rider to provide proof they have the light within 72 hours to waive the fine. Des Moines riders should incorporate the light among other bicycle safety gear as soon as possible.
According to the senators, the bill was introduced not to generate revenue through fines but to raise awareness of the importance of bicycle safety and visibility. Acceptable lights can be attached to the rear of the bicycle seat or the back of a helmet, backpack or clothing. As of April 4, 2015 the bill passed a House committee and is scheduled to be voted on at an upcoming House assembly.
Lights are not the only type of bicycle safety gear that can help prevent bicycle crashes and serious injuries. When shopping for a new bike or bike accessories, here are some other items to consider adding to your safety arsenal.
Bicycle Safety Gear
Your bicycle is the first area of concern when it comes to rider safety. Carry a tire pressure gauge at all times to ensure your tires are properly inflated before and after a ride. If you're riding and notice the tires do not feel balanced, pull over and check that the wheels are equal and within the proper range.
Your bike should have a front lamp, rear lamp and reflector, as well as reflectors on the pedals and sides of the spokes. The more illuminated and reflective your bike is, the easier it can be seen in the dark. Low-riding bikes such as recumbent bicycles should use a bike flag to improve visibility when riding with traffic because they can be hard to see among taller vehicles.
Also make sure you invest time before and after each ride to check your bicycle for wear and tear or damage. Account for occasional repairs in your bicycle budget to make sure you're always able to keep your bike in top shape.
Safety Gear for the Rider
Once your bike is outfitted with the full suite of safety gear, it's time to get dressed for a safe ride. The first thing every rider should purchase is a DOT-approved bicycle helmet that fits snugly and comfortably, and for children, is designed with room to grow.
Safety glasses or goggles can help protect a rider's eyesight from distracting and dangerous UV lights, as well as cut down glare from reflective surfaces in the daylight. This type of eye protection can help reduce road debris, bugs and other airborne hazards from impairing the rider's vision. To complete the head protection, a mouth guard can prevent dental injuries if a rider falls face-first off his or her bicycle in an accident.
Body protection is also important, especially for off-road BMX riding. Casual riders may want to consider investing in elbow and knee pads to protect their joints from damage in the event of a crash, and more active riders will find more protection in body armor that is integrated in a riding suit or worn under riding clothes.
Protect your hands from road rash in the event of a fall with riding gloves that are properly sized to fit snugly and maintain a grip on the handlebars. Riders should always wear closed-toed shoes with no-slip soles to maintain a good grip on the pedals. Toe clips, clip-in pedals and cleats can help keep your feet firmly connected to the pedals during a ride and reduce the chance of foot slippage as the cause of a crash.
Getting Bicycle Safety Gear Now Could Save Your Life
It's especially important for new riders to become familiar with safety gear from the moment they start riding and make it a habit for each ride. Iowa may not have a bicycle helmet law, but responsible riders shouldn't need a law to tell them to wear the best safety gear possible to protect themselves from crashes caused by the negligence of others.
If you or a loved one were injured in a serious bicycle crash regardless of safety gear, contact Walker, Billingsley & Bair for immediate assistance with a bicycle injury claim. Call (888) 435-9886 or fill out our online contact form and schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss your legal options for recovery of damages caused by a bike accident.