Coinciding with Bike to Work Week, a study places Iowa seventh overall in the nation’s Bike Friendly State rankings. The report from the League of American Bicyclists looks at categories like pro-cycling legislation, education efforts and bike-friendly infrastructure, from bike lanes to bike trails. Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Coralville-based Iowa Bicycle Coalition, says he’s thrilled with the state’s top-ten ranking.
“We did really well in education, evaluation and planning, and enforcement,” Wyatt says. “We were first across the board in those sections, which is really exciting.” Iowa is one of the country’s front-runners in converting hundreds of miles of old railroad beds to dedicated bike trails, and we’re home to RAGBRAI, the statewide ride which lures thousands of pedal power enthusiasts every summer. He says more than two-thousand Iowans signed up at the website BikeIowa.com to take part in Bike to Work Week.
Wyatt says Iowa’s also among the nation’s top ten bike-friendly states — ninth — in terms of infrastructure. “We have some great things going on in the state but I think we can do better,” Wyatt says. “Some of our urban areas are just starting to plan and develop their bikeway systems and when those sorts of things come online, we’re going to go up in the rankings.”
Iowa’s worst showing on the list was the rank of 37th in the category of legislation. Wyatt says cycling advocates have been diligent in trying to lobby Iowa lawmakers to pass a Biker’s Bill of Rights, but have been unsuccessful in getting the full package approved. He notes, state legislators during the 2010 session did adopt a couple of bike-friendly laws, which will take effect in July.
“The legislature passed two items, one is that you can’t operate unreasonably close to a bicyclist and you can’t throw items at bicyclists,” Wyatt says. “Each of those would result in a $250 fine. The difference between that law and what has passed in other states is that there’s no specific safe passing distance. Most states, in fact 26 states, have passed a three-foot passing distance.”
The rankings are based on a 95-item questionnaire that evaluates a state’s commitment to bicycling in a half-dozen key areas. This is the third year for the rankings. Iowa fell one notch from 6th overall last year but is up from 20th in 2008.
See the full report at “www.bicyclefriendlystate.org“.