The middle of an icy, snowy winter in Iowa is not usually the time most people are thinking about bicycling, yet the Iowa Bicycle Summit opens Thursday in Des Moines. Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, says the conference will appeal to two groups of people.
Wyatt says Thursday is dedicated to workshops for engineers and planners who build bicycling facilities across Iowa. The second day of the conference is directed toward bicycling advocates, parks managers and trail managers who want to learn more about education, enforcement and encouragement. Wyatt, who lives in North Liberty, says attendees will explore issues including bicycle tourism, complete streets, safety, education, trail funding and bicycle clubs.
He says bicycling is becoming very popular, thanks in part to what he calls the "Lance Armstrong factor," but he says more bike trails and connections in Iowa are also helping the sport to gain momentum. The latest figures show more than 300-thousand Iowans own bicycles and Wyatt says many of them don’t let a pesky thing like winter get in the way.
He says it’s surprising, but a lot of people are still out riding their bikes every day. He says over one-quarter of people in the U.S. don’t have a driver’s license and many use bicycles as their primary means of transportation. The Third Annual Iowa Bicycle Summit runs Thursday and Friday at the Holiday Inn Downtown at Mercy Campus in Des Moines.