Bicycle Information

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Under Iowa law, both bicyclists and motorists must comply with the same rules of the road and be afforded the same rights. For more specific City of Ames bicycle information, please follow this link to the Municipal Code.

How to Register a Bicycle.  All bicycles on the ISU campus must be registered. The City of Ames also recommends bicycle owners in the community to register their bikes. By registering your bicycle, you will help deter bicycle theft and assist in returning recovered, stolen, or lost bicycles to their owners. ISU and the City of Ames bicycle registration program is simple, free of charge, and never expires. Bicycle owners fill out a short form, either in person at the locations listed below, or on-line. Owner information is recorded and you receive a sticker with a registration number to affix to your bike.


Where to Register

  •  Iowa State Univ. Armory, Room 27
  •  City Finance Dept., City Hall, 515 Clark Avenue
  •  Online: Click to Register


What You Need to Register

  • Make, model, and type of bicycle
  • Serial number
  • Speeds
  • Color
  • Style

Tips.  Always lock your bicycle when left unattended. Secure it to a bicycle rack or strong stationary object. Feed a chain through both wheels and the frame and then around the stationary object, or at least make sure the chain goes through the rear wheel and frame. File a report as soon as possible with the police if your bicycle is stolen.

Important Information and Phone Numbers

Reporting Thefts and Accidents
Ames Police Department     515-239-5133
ISU Police Division     515-294-4428

Report Hazardous Road/Path Conditions
Ames Operations (Streets) Department     515-239-5548
ISU Facilities Management     515-294-5100

Bicycle Repair Shops
Bike World     515-232-3669
Skunk River Cycles     515-232-0322

For More Information and Maps...   

Story County Conservation
McFarland Park
56461 180th Street
Ames, IA 50010-9451
Fax: 515-232-6989

Or click here to go to the Story County Conservation website.

Sharing the Road with Bicycles.  All around Iowa, people are discovering the many environments, health and transportation benefits of bicycle riding. With some simple reminders of common rules of the road, bicyclists and motorists can safely share the road. Under Iowa law, both bicyclists and motorists must comply with the same rules of the road and be afforded the same rights. Sharing the road means sharing these rights and responsibilities.

Safety Tips for Motorists Safety Tips for Bicyclists
Do not honk your horn at bicyclists. They may be startled and lose control. Always wear a helmet.
Use extra caution when passing bicyclists. Move entirely into the left lane; on a two-lane road, don't pass a bicycle if oncoming traffic is near. Ride on the right. Ride in the right lane, except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or avoiding hazards.
Bicyclists might swerve to avoid road hazards. Common road hazards for bicyclists are potholes, debris, drainage grates, railroad tracks and narrow bridges. Obey traffic signs and signals. Use hand signals to advise motorists you plan to turn, change lanes or stop.
Be careful when opening your vehicle door. Road widths often force bicyclists to ride close to parked vehicles where they may be injured by an opening door.
Make eye contact with motorist. Never assume a motorist sees you or that you have the right-of-way. Expect the unexpected such as: parked vehicles pulling into traffic; vehicles doors opening into your path; and debris on the road.
When in doubt, yield to bicyclists.
At night, use a headlight, taillight and reflectors.

Iowa Bicycling Laws
Car and bicycle sharing the road

Obey traffic signals. Bicyclists are responsible for knowing and obeying all traffic laws. In order to reinforce the fact that bicycles belong on the road, bicyclists must obey traffic laws and be courteous to other road users.

 Bicycle rider on right side of road. Ride on the right. When no shoulder is available, move as far to the right as is practical and safe. Bicyclists must ride in the right-hand lane, and when being overtaken by another vehicle, must ride as close to the right as practical while still allowing room to react to broken glass, sewer grates and other road conditions that may affect the operation of the bicycle.

Bicycle riding against traffic with a car approaching

Never ride against traffic. Motorists and other cyclists aren't looking for a bicyclist on the wrong side of the roadway. Riding on the wrong side increases the likelihood and the severity of head-on collisions.


Bicycle hand signals

Use hand signals. Hand signals tell motorists when you intend to do. Signal as a matter of law, courtesy and self protection.



Bicycle with head and rear lights

Use lights at night. Every bicycle being used at night must be equipped with a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the the rear, both must be visible for at least 300 feet.


No bicycles allowed sign

Don't ride bicycles on interstate highways. Bicyclists are prohibited, by law, from using interstate highways in Iowa.


  Bicycle following street signage correctly

Follow lane markings. Like other traffic, bicyclists must follow lane markings. Bicyclists can't turn left from the right lane or go straight in a right-turn-only lane.


Two people on a single person bicycle with a mark indicating it is not correct

Don't "ride double." A bicycle on the highway may not be used to carry more persons than it is designed and equipped to carry.



A bicycle passing a car on the right with a sign indicating this is not correct
Don't pass on the right. Motorists are not looking for a bicyclist to pass on the right. Passing must be done at a safe distance to the left. The return to the right side of the road must not be made until there is a safe, clear distance in front of the passed vehicle.

A car and a person standing next to a bicycle

Bicycle and traffic violations: Bicyclists who violate traffic laws are subject to the same fines as motor vehicle drivers.


Ames/ISU Regulations

The City of Ames has other regulations in addition to the state laws pertaining to the use of bicycles. Drivers of bicycles within City limits must:

  • Ride no more than two abreast while riding on a street, except on designated bicycle paths.
  • Operate a bicycle equipped with a brake that will enable a braked wheel skid on on dry pavement.
  • Yield the right-of-way on an off-street bicycle path to traffic traveling on a public roadway.
  • Operate at reasonable and prudent speeds under existing conditions.
  • Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on sidewalks, in designated crosswalks, and to traffic on streets, while emerging from alleys, drive-ways, and buildings.
  • Not be attached to or towed by any vehicle.
  • Not carry articles that prevent the rider from having at least one hand on the handle bars.
  • Yield the right-of-way and give audible signals before overtaking pedestrians.
  • It is unlawful for any person to operate a bicycle, tricycle or unicycle upon any sidewalk on the following streets: Main Street from Duff Avenue to Clark Avenue, Lincoln Way on the south side from Stanton Avenue to Hayward Avenue, Hayward Avenue on the east side from Lincoln Way to Hunt Street, and Welch Avenue from Lincoln Way to Knapp Street. 

Iowa State University has regulations in addition to the state laws pertaining to the use of bicycles. Drivers of bicycles on the ISU campus must:

  • Use designated bike paths or designated bike path lanes. On streets regulated by ISU that do not have marked paths or lanes, bicyclists may use the existing roadway and are subject to motor vehicle regulations.
  • Not operate a bicycle on campus sidewalks, except those specifically designated as bicycle paths.
  • Not ride on lawns.
  • Not take a bicycle inside any university building except in areas authorized by the Department of Public Safety.
  • Park bicycles in the bicycle racks provided. Do not park bicycles on lawns or sidewalks. Do not chain bicycles to trees, light poles, fences, benches, etc. Bicycles improperly parked may be impounded -- locking devices may be cut and removed when necessary. Of particular concern are bicycles parked on disability access ramps. Bicycles found on these ramps will be immediately removed and impounded.

Path Etiquette

All Users

  • Show courtesy to other trail users.
  • Use the right side of the trail unless otherwise designated.
  • Move to the side when conversing or taking in a scenic view.
  • Let other users know when you are passing them.
  • Always pass on the left.
  • Keep dogs on a leash; remove pet feces from trail.
  • Obey all traffic signs.


  • Yield to pedestrians.
  • Give audible warning when passing other users.
  • Ride at a safe speed.

Pedestrians, Runners and Rollers

  • Stay to the right of the trail unless otherwise designated.
  • Watch out for other trail users.
  • Be especially alert when running.
  • Listen for audible signals and allow faster trail users to pass safely.

Off-Road Interests
Welcome to the Skunk River Greenbelt Recreational Trail System

All trails in McFarland Park are open to pedestrians, and most are open to off-road bicyclists. Watch for signs. There are "No Bikes" signs posted on some trails due to heavy pedestrian use and to protect extensive stairway systems.

Trails in Peterson Park are open to pedestrians, off-road bicyclists and equestrians.

The Skunk River Greenbelt is open to pedestrians and off-road bicyclists only from Soper's Mill (170th Street) to Bear Creek. It is open to pedestrians and off-road bicyclists, and equestrians from the Anderson Canoe Access (150th Street) to the E18 Greenbelt Access.