The two-day Iowa Bicycle Summit will bring two-wheeling enthusiasts to Des Moines later this week. Mark Wyatt, organizer and executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, says it’s an event that’s dedicated to producing low-cost, accessible education on building stronger bicycle communities across Iowa.

“The Friday session is geared toward planners, engineers, city officials,” Wyatt says. “Saturday is geared more toward the grassroots bicycle advocates, people who want to see more trails, more bicycling in their area, but also it’s really valuable for that city official, trail official, people that want to build better bicycling infrastructure.”

Wyatt says the summit is designed to provide planners and advocates with information on the best practices in bicycling for transportation and recreation, while featuring presentations on bicycle education that fosters vibrant and healthy communities. “We want to get more people on bicycles, that’s the whole key,” Wyatt says.

“We want people that don’t bicycle to expect them to be there, creating more awareness and a culture of people that just assume it’s easier to go where I want to go by bike. That’s a great thing to have happen.” Speakers will present topics including safe streets planning, innovations in bicycle bridges, promoting sustainable food and physical activity with youth, community bicycle clubs, cycling safety, and new marketing ideas like bike-share programs.

Wyatt says the summit aims to build a model bicycle culture here in Iowa. “We’ve been ranked pretty high as far as bike-friendly states,” Wyatt says. “We can continue to do better if those benchmarks are being assessed. The other states are becoming more competitive and we really have to keep on top of our game and keep people bicycling in Iowa.”

The summit runs Friday and Saturday at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines. The event will conclude with the announcement of the 2011 RAGBRAI Route. At least a thousand biking enthusiasts are expected to attend that announcement.