Iowa closes "resounding gaps" in state law on crosswalks

Iowa drivers will be required to yield to bicyclists and others on wheels in crosswalks, under a new law Governor Kim Reynolds signed on May 3.

Before House File 2568, Iowa was one of just twelve states where drivers approaching a crosswalk were required to yield only to pedestrians, defined narrowly as “any person afoot.” The bill expands the definition of pedestrian to include those using a “pedestrian conveyance,” “including but not limited to a wheelchair, stroller, skateboard, scooter, or other similar device.” It also makes clear that drivers must yield to “a person riding a bicycle crossing the roadway” within marked or unmarked crosswalks at an intersection.

Groups representing bicyclists, people with disabilities, and older Iowans had lobbied for the bill. At a House subcommittee in February, Iowa Bicycle Coalition executive director Luke Hoffman told lawmakers the crosswalks bill was his group’s second highest legislative priority, following a “hands-free” bill for drivers using cell phones.


State Representative Thomas Gerhold introduced and floor managed the bill in the Iowa House. During the floor debate in late February, he cited a policy brief by the University of Iowa’s Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Safety Lab, which highlighted “resounding gaps” in existing Iowa Code on crosswalks.

According to that brief, “There were 885 crashes in Iowa involving vulnerable road users (bicycles, tricycles, unicycles, and pedal cars), wheelchairs, and other non-motorists in crosswalks from 2018-2023.” Of the nineteen Iowa cities that had fifteen or more such accidents during that time frame, only four (Ankeny, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Waterloo) had ordinances in place protecting bicyclists in crosswalks.

The University of Iowa researchers also noted that “many people use crosswalks on a daily basis,” and an estimated 42,700 Iowa households (about 1 in 17) “do not have a motor vehicle.”

During the House subcommittee, Democratic State Representative Bob Kressig (a longtime avid cyclist) recalled being knocked over by a vehicle while he was riding in a crosswalk. He suffered only minor injury, but Iowa Bicycle Coalition member Larry Loss told lawmakers he spent seventeen days in the hospital and was off work for two months after a distracted driver hit him in a crosswalk in May 2022.

When the House debated the bill, Republican State Representative Jon Dunwell spoke about his surgeries and week-long hospital stay after getting hit by a truck while he was riding in a bike lane. The House approved the bill by 84 votes to eight, with Republicans Ken Carlson, Mark Cisneros, Zach Dieken, Joel Fry, Cindy Golding, Tom Moore, David Sieck, and John Wills opposing it.

State Senator Mark Lofgren floor managed the bill in the Senate, where it received unanimous approval in April.

Following final passage of House File 2568, the Iowa Bicycle Coalition said in a statement the bill “closes a loophole” and brings Iowa in line with some surrounding states, including Nebraska. “Whether you are out on the trails as a cyclist, a person with disabilities in a wheelchair, a senior citizen on an electric scooter, a kid on a skateboard, or a parent with a baby in a stroller, it’s a win for all Iowans.”


The governor signing House File 2568 was a fitting way to kick off National Bike Month. But cycling advocates are already planning to accomplish more next year.

Hoffman told Bleeding Heartland on May 7, “After passing the Crosswalk Protections bill our volunteer leaders feel more motivated than ever to get hands free done next legislative session.” He noted that reducing distracted driving with new restrictions on handheld devices “would dramatically lower traffic fatalities and crashes in Iowa, would save lives and give law enforcement the tools they need to enforce existing law banning texting while driving as well.”

Lawmakers have introduced many versions of bills restricting cell phone use while driving in the Iowa House or Senate over the past decade. During the 2024 session, GOP State Senator Brad Zaun and State Representative Phil Thompson tried combining “hands free” language with new limits on traffic cameras. The Senate version of that bill got through committee but never came up for a vote in the full chamber. The House version didn’t get past the first “funnel” deadline in February.

In the end, the House advanced (and the Senate approved) a bill limiting local government use of traffic cameras to enforce speed limits, without any provisions on handheld devices for drivers. The traffic camera bill (House File 2681) is awaiting the governor’s signature.

Hoffman said the “longtime champions of hands free” in the Iowa Senate are all returning next year. On the House side, several “strong proponents” (including State Representative Ann Meyer, who has introduced hands free bills) are expected to be back in 2025 as well.

About the Author(s)

Laura Belin