Parking in bike lanes has never been permitted in Iowa City, but this was one parking infraction where enforcement was lax, because it was classified in city code as a moving violation, and only police officers could issue tickets or have a vehicle towed. That’s changed now, and the city’s parking enforcement staff will be able to issue tickets for blocking bike lanes as they do for parking violations.
The Iowa City Council voted unanimously to approve the change at its formal meeting last week, in order to expand enforcement of the rule on blocking bike lanes.
When the proposal was first introduced at the council meeting on March 1, Iowa City Transportation Director Darian Nagle-Gamm explained the problem of drivers parking in bike lanes had gotten worse over the last two years, especially downtown “around lunch or dinner time.”
“It’s increased during the pandemic, I think due in part to the proliferation of food delivery and other delivery services,” Nagle-Gamm told the council. “And really this is causing a safety issue, especially for cyclists, but also for drivers who really need to swerve around the parked vehicles, which are often in the bike lane and in part of the through lane. And at peak time, it can happen multiple times, so it really creates a kind of slalom effect that we’re trying to avoid.”
According to a news release from Iowa City Transportation, for the first week parking enforcement “will provide written warning/citations, accompanied by a flyer containing a QR code that links to a map with available parking options in the area. New signage is posted on Clinton Street to remind drivers that no stopping, standing, or parking is allowed in bike lanes.”
After this week, there will be a transition to writing tickets for violations, with a fine of $15 for illegally parking in a bike lane. Violators also face the possibility of having their cars towed.
There are 41 designated loading zones downtown, in addition to free parking for the first hour in all the city’s parking ramps.