Iowans are encouraged to trade their four wheels for two this week as part of Bike To Work Week. Tina Hadden, one of the event’s state organizers, says the goals include encouraging Iowans to try bike commuting, increasing cycling awareness and promoting a healthy alternative form of transportation. Hadden says it’s not practical for all Iowans to hop on their ten-speeds and head to work, but many can — and do.
Hadden says: "In central Iowa, we’ve got a great trail system so that’s great if you’re out doing recreational riding, but the truth of the matter is, if you’re going to ride your bike to work, you’re going to be on the streets part of the time. Our goal would be to make the streets more user-friendly for the bikes by putting in bike lanes or bike routes and having those connected to the trail heads."
She says some Iowa cities have already put in bike lanes on main roads, while Des Moines just passed an ordinance recently to make Iowa’s largest city more bike-friendly — and the movement is catching on.
"Some of the suburbs are already starting to put bike lanes in when they’re putting in new streets or they’re going back and refurbishing old streets,"Hadden says, "you are starting to see a lot more awareness from our political leaders about the need for bicycle-friendly, complete streets."
Several Iowa communities are hosting events this week, including discounts for bike riders at coffee shops, bike commuter breakfasts, tune-up specials at bike shops and even an after-work biking happy hour at a Des Moines tavern. Hadden says this Bike to Work Week has several goals, including gas conservation, money savings and getting healthy.
"Biking to work is a great way to get your exercise in before and after work," she says. "We have a gentleman who’s only filled up his gas tank twice since January, either by riding the bus or taking his bike to work. There is definitely some incentive with the gas prices the way that they are." While events are underway all week, Friday is Bike to Work Day. Governor Culver has proclaimed May 2008 as Bike Iowa Month. To find out about various events and to make your pro-biking voice heard, Hadden encourages bike riders to register on the Bike Iowa website and to commit to riding to work.