There are lots of road hazards a cyclist needs to avoid. Potholes, railroad tracks, ice, mud… the list is long.
But if you are riding downtown on the Ingersoll bike lane, you’ll be in for a special surprise around 24th Street. Two giant steel plates cover the lane and extend into the car lane.
You really want to avoid riding over these plates. Particularly when it’s wet out. Everything you heard about riding over railway crossings is doubled for steel plates.
Better to get off the bike and walk.
Can you stop at a stop sign without putting your foot down? How how at a light just before it turns green? Track stands are an important aspect of commuting. Here’s one way to get started.
As soon as it warms up, Des Moines trails are full of road cyclists, mountain bikes, cruisers, dog walkers, children… it’s like suddenly everyone is heading somewhere.
Many of cyclists you’ll see on Des Moines trails are commuters too, like Alan Eshelman who is pumped about doing a 14 miles roundtrip between Windsor Heights and his job in downtown Des Moines. He’s a veteran of the commute. It’s his third year, but he’s always excited to get back on the trail.
Alan, what bike do you commute with and why did you choose it?
I started infrequently backpacking it to work on a mountain bike a few years ago. As my frequency of bike commuting increased, I felt the need to commit more to the task equipment-wise.
I ended up with a Trek/Gary Fisher “Lane” cyclocross bike as my commuter, but I didn’t buy it with that intent. Initially it was to be used for longer recreational rides and for some cyclocross practice to see if I liked that type of riding. But after about a month of ownership I realized it would be a lot better for commuting, so I added fenders, rack, and paniers, and retired the mountain bike.
The League of American Bicyclists just dropped Iowa 5 more positions this year. Their annual survery considers bicycle policies and programs, as well as infrastructure growth and education. This is too bad since only 4 years ago Iowa was ranked in the top 10 states.
The drop was largely due to the poor development of bicycle infrastructure, where other states are far out-stripping the land of RAGBRAI.
Who’s ahead of Iowa? Maine and Utah are right up their. Our neighbors, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota are still on the top 10. One consolation is that Texas is just behind us at number 22. South Dakota is at 46 on the list.
“I think it’s a blueprint for things we need to work on,” said Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.
Compared to other states, Iowa falls behind on street safety, Wyatt said. A bill that would require a safe passing distance for motorists to go around cyclists, and another bill that would require drivers to look to make sure there is no oncoming bike traffic before opening a car door have not succeeded in the Legislature.
Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, who introduced both bills in the Senate, said he struggles to understand opposition to measures to make Iowa roads safer for cyclists.
Recently the Des Moines Bicycle Collective moved from 6th and Grand to East 6th and Grand.
It’s hard to imagine how many bicycles and parts got moved. And getting everything organized as a running bike shop is no mean feat.
But every day volunteers work to refurbish bike and customers rent space to repair their rides. Whether they can find parts or not. And gradually.. amid all the repairs, those parts find their way back to where they will be found.