Crosswalks and Sidewalks
Crosswalks and Sidewalks
in Iowa City
What Other Cities Are Doing
What Other Cities
are Doing
Strategies for Activism
Strategies for Activism
"The point of cities is multiplicity of choice."
—Jane Jacobs

Vote for and Support a Candidate who is Bike- and Pedestrian-friendly in the October Iowa City Council Elections on November 6! Remember Mike Wright when you go to the polls!

In the upcoming Iowa City City Council elections newcomer Mike Wright is a candidate for City Council who will support pedestrian and cyclist rights! Mike will support improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists along with increased law enforcement toward drivers to make non-motorized transportation safer and more feasible.Vote November 6!

For a Pedestrian Rights Manifesto from the CBC program Definitely Not the Opera, click here (mp3 file). Let's turn Iowa City into Halifax!
Among the choices to which the late Jane Jacobs referred are sustainable transportation options such as walking, cycling, and public transportation. With more expensive fuel prices, and increasing awareness of the automobile's negative effect on both the environment and a community's social capital, the choice of non-motorized transportation
should be encouraged. Persons interested in encouraging and protecting pedestrian activity in Iowa City now have a forum to exchange ideas for activism and lobby traffic engineers, planners, and law enforcement to protect the interests of pedestrians. This is what Pedestrians of Iowa City (PedzIC) is all about. We are that forum.

The law is on the side of pedestrians, but we are intimidated when attempting to cross the street legally, and pedestrians often find themselves sharing sidewalks with cyclists. This is safe neither for the pedestrian or the cyclist. The City of Iowa City provides only occasional signage and pavement marking for unsignalized crosswalks (a crosswalk is legally defined as any intersection of two surface streets regardless of signage or pavement markings). The Iowa City Police Department cannot be depended upon to defend the rights of pedestrians and all too often pedestrians and cyclists are depicted by the ICPD as the problem.

Iowa Law is very similar to the laws of all 50 states regarding pedestrians (from the Code of Iowa):

321.327 Pedestrians' right-of-way.

Where traffic-control signals are not in place or in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

A person convicted of a violation of this section is guilty of a simple misdemeanor punishable as a scheduled violation under section 805.8A, subsection 7, paragraph "b".

This law is very rarely enforced by the Iowa City Police Department. While tickets are frequently written to pedestrians for jaywalking violations, tickets are rarely written to motorists for failure to yield. Ask an Iowa City officer if he's written a ticket for failure to yield and chances are he'll tell you that all pedestrian fatalities and accidents are the fault of pedestrians.

Bicyclists, because their rights to use the roadway are rarely protected by the ICPD as well, have resorted to using sidewalks because they do not feel their safety is protected by law enforcement. This shared use frequently places pedestrians at risk. Cycling on sidewalks also places cyclists at high risk for accidents since drivers are rarely looking for them as turns into driveways and intersections are made. Cyclists probably do not have the right of way in such accidents as they are not defined as pedestrians under Iowa Code.

The City of Iowa City seems to be able to find almost limitless funding for transportation improvements for drivers and car storage but in a community with very high rates of pedestrian and cycling for commuting purposes, significant money is rarely available for improvements for non-motorized transportation. Iowa City's most impressive structures, if only sheer size is considered, are parking ramps. The University of Iowa's campus plan states "in order to suport a pedestrian oriented campus and facilitate circulation, parking needs must be considered. A number of parking issues have been identified: convenience, supply of close-in spaces, need for ramps, potential displacements of lots, and future growth in parking need. Parking space is projected to grow to 1,622 new spaces by 2011." (italics mine).

How does the University of Iowa purport to create a more pedestrian oriented campus by providing more parking spaces?

The University of Iowa Parking and Transportation Department runs a laughable and frequent ad in the Daily Iowan reminding bicycle riders to lock their bikes in appropriate places and not use bicycles inside campus buildings. Would it not occur to the Department to run an occasional ad reminding drivers to obey speed limits and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks? This has been suggested by your webmaster with no response.

Iowa City needs to do better. PedzIC aims to make this happen.

© 2007 Donald Baxter (contact Donald Baxter) and Pedestrians of Iowa City
This site is dedicated to the memory of Jane Jacobs, 1916-2006