Iowa Legislator Drafting Bill Requiring Cyclists to Have Rear LED Taillight

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  A bill being drafted by Republican Representative John Wills would mean extra cost to cyclists, but the legislator believes it will also mean extra safety for people both on bikes and in motor vehicles.

The bill would require cyclists to have a red LED taillight on their bicycle.

Wills started drafting the bill when a constituent came to him.

The man had previously hit a group of cyclists with his motorcycle while the sun was setting.

“He was convinced that if they would've had a flashing red led light on the back of their bikes, he would have seen them,” said Representative Wills.

None of the cyclists were killed in the accident, but it made Wills start looking for more information.

“Out of the 11 serious bike accidents that happened last year, seven of them were rear impact accidents, and basically the drivers of the vehicles that ran into the bikes claimed they didn’t see them,” said Wills.

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition, however, says the majority of crashes happen during the daytime and that lights would not make much of a difference.

“The testimony in the court cases have been the drivers looking away from the road for eight to 10 seconds. That’s a long time, that’s a few football fields. So I think there’s your bigger problem, so I’m not exactly sure lights during the daytime are going to fix that,” said Mark Wyatt, Executive Director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

The coalition worries the law would restrict access to riding.

“We don’t want to have restrictions that are too unusual and regulations that would prevent people from bicycling.  It is easier to buy a cell phone at any convenience store across the state than it is to go buy a bike light. It’s just not as accessible of a product as we’d like it to be,” said Wyatt.

Nevertheless, Wyatt says lights can’t hurt

“We encourage people to use lights; we encourage people to be visible,” he said.

However, not every cyclist feels that it should be optional.

“I think it’s a good idea, just because a lot of times like lately, it’s been foggy lately, they’d be able to see ya. Unfortunately mine fell off but I put it back on,” said cyclist Frank Miller.

The coalition says they’re pushing for a lane-change bill that would require drivers to move over before passing a cyclist.

Representative Wills says while it is not his goal, he would be willing to include lane-change if it means getting the LED requirement as well.

LED lights can be purchased online for $10 - $30.