UI, IC bike toward future


Iowa has been moving toward a bike share program for some time now. This will give the public access to bicycles for a small fee. (The Daily Iowan/Glenn Sonnie Wooden)

The UI and city government want a more bike-friendly campus and community.

By Jack Berning

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The University of Iowa and Iowa City government are encouraging local residents to reduce their carbon footprint through efforts to make the campus and Iowa City community more bike-friendly.

The city recently hired a biking consultant to complete the city’s “Bike Master Plan,” which will be heavily dependent on public input. The consultant is to begin on the first of the new year, and the plan is expected to be completed by July 2017.

“The city has already put several plans in place, one of those being a ‘road diet’ on Clinton Street,” said Kent Ralston, a city transportation planner. “The road will undergo a lane conversion from four lanes down to three to make room for bike lanes.”

The city is also planning a “road diet” for Madison Street in 2018 and is investigating a similar arrangement for Gilbert Street.

In addition to making bike travel easier on the roadways, the city is also committed to increasing recreational bike paths.

“We are creating a bike path to run from Sunset Street to Mormon Trek Boulevard along Highway 1,” Ralston said. “The city also has a project in the works to complete a trail along Highway 6 between Sycamore and Heinz. [The Highway 6 project] aims a little further out however, scheduled for 2021.”

Data from the 2008-12 American Community survey show that Iowa City ranked sixth in the Midwest for the percentage of people who bike to work, at 3.23 percent. Iowa City also ranked 14th in the country among cities with similar populations, between 65,000 and 100,000.

“I actually don’t even bring my car to school,” UI student and avid bike rider Jack McDaniel said. “With downtown and campus so close to one another, there is really no need to deal with parking, gas, and the other difficulties that come with having a car.”

The city’s main purpose in becoming more bike-friendly is to come up with specific objectives and prioritized action to increase sustainability goals, Ralston said.

The UI Office of Sustainability is also increasing efforts to get more people on bikes, because bicycling is a healthier and more environmentally friendly way to travel around the area.

“By working with our Bicycle Advisory Committee, we sponsor two bike challenges each year to show that bike commuting can be fun; as well as bike tune-ups to show proper bike maintenance,” said communications specialist George McCrory of the Sustainability Office.

“We also work with community groups such as the Bike Library and Think Bicycles to promote cycling,” McCrory said. “[The UI Department of] Parking and Transportation is a great partner as well. It provides bike racks, self-service maintenance stations, and voluntary bike registration.”

One of the university’s 2020 Vision Goals is to reduce the carbon impact in transportation, seeking a 10 percent reduction in per capita emissions of fossil-fuel-produced carbon dioxide. By encouraging people to bike, it reduces the miles traveled by people driving to work and class.

In addition to having a positive efect on the environment, McCrory said he hopes that Iowa City citizens can find personal benefits in biking as well.

“Biking is also a great way to make friends in several bike-related clubs or by taking a Lifetime Leisure Skills bike class,” McCrory said. “Iowa City boasts a growing bike culture, and the University of Iowa has been designated a silver-level Bicycle Friendly University.”

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