Bike-SignMotorists in Iowa would be required to change lanes on highways when passing a bicycle under a bill approved in the Iowa Senate.

The measure was approved Wednesday on a vote of 38 to 12. It would require a vehicle passing a bike to get completely over in the adjoining lane, instead of just giving the cyclist a few feet.

Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, talked about a frightening experience while riding a bicycle in rural Butler County.

“Where semis, for some reason, wouldn’t get over a foot. Several times, I was blown off the road because the vehicle came so close that I could have reached out and slapped the vehicle going by me at 65 to 70 miles an hour,” Dotzler said.

Iowa City Democrat and avid cyclist Joe Bolkcom says it’s hard to understand the danger until you’ve experienced it on two wheels. “I would guess that more than half the Senate has never been on a bike on a county road, going 10 or 15 miles- an-hour and being passed by a car or six or eight cars in a row going 55 or 60 miles-an-hour,” Bolkcom said.

Supporters say the measure would reduce the number of fatal car versus bicycle crashes. Opponents question the safety of cars lining up behind a slow-moving bicycle until it’s clear enough to pass. Backers say Iowa is one of only a few states without a law on passing bicycles.

(Thanks to Michael Leland, Iowa Public Radio)