With this week’s statewide bicycle ride RAGBRAI canceled by the pandemic, Iowa cycling enthusiasts are meeting online instead as part of the Bike for Climate Week of Action.

Julie Johnson, an organizer for Environment Iowa, says it’s an effort to support biking and other forms of clean transportation.
“Throughout the week, participants will take grassroots actions such as making phone calls and signing petitions,” Johnson says, “to show their elected officials the importance of biking infrastructure for Iowans.”

That includes marked bike lanes on roadways and dedicated bike trails. Virtual gatherings are planned this week to discuss topics like the benefits of biking infrastructure, tips for new and intermediate bikers, and the state of biking legislation in Iowa.

“The keynote event of the Bike Week of Action will be a biking and clean transportation conversation tomorrow,” Johnson says. “The event will feature a lot of different speakers, such as the director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s ‘Transform and Transportation’ campaign, and also Ryan Baker, who owns Iowa City’s World of Bikes.”

That conversation is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday. She says the state’s cars and trucks are responsible for more than a quarter of Iowa’s global warming pollution, so it’s clear our transportation system is due for a zero-carbon upgrade.
“We want Iowans to be able to avoid using their car when they could be biking instead,” Johnson says. “Bike more, drive less, is basically the idea. Get out and enjoy nature and also protect the planet while you’re doing it.”

Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, says “The pandemic has shown a lot of people want to ride bicycles and they want safe spaces to ride them.” Learn more at the group’s Facebook page.