The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Cedar Rapids seeks bike-friendly status similar to cool places like Madison, Eugene, Fort Collins and Ann Arbor; Podzimek giddy

In Brian Fagan, City Hall, Kris Gulick, Pat Shey, Tom Podzimek on May 22, 2008 at 4:54 pm

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that most if not all of the nine members of the City Council are eager to do what they can to raise the profile of Cedar Rapids.

After a push from council member Tom Podzimek, the city now is moving ahead on the task of earning for Cedar Rapids the status of “Bicycle Friendly Community,” a distinction handed down by the League of American Bicyclists.

No Iowa city now has such distinction, though Iowa City once did have it, and a number of Iowa cities have applied, according to city officials.

Eighty-four cities nationwide are now designated bicycle friendly, including such places as Madison, Wis., Eugene, Ore., Ann Arbor, Mich., LaCrosse, Wis., Fort Collins, Colo., and big cities, Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

According to a City Hall memo, such a designation is not easy to obtain.

Among the requirements are for a city to provide bike racks on most city facilities; equip buses with bike racks (which the city is doing this summer); identify low-volume roads as “touring routes;” and implement a “complete streets” policy that requires accommodations for bicycles and pedestrians as part of new road construction (a discussion that the City Council is now having).

Podzimek couldn’t have been happier on Wednesday evening to hear that the city is pushing ahead.

“Gee that was easy,” he said in an e-mail. “(I) should have asked that question 30 months ago.”

He and council colleagues Pat Shey, Brian Fagan and Kris Gulick all participated in the recent ride-a-bike-to-work-week ride.

Shey rode his bike to the council meeting last night. He said he was mad about gasoline prices, and intended to ride the bike all week.


  1. Would a bike-friendly plan include educating motor vehicle drivers about safe ways to share the road with bicyclists? I sure hope so. My neighbor told me the other day that her teen son bikes a lot, and car and truck drivers regularly honk, shout profanities and have even clipped the back of his bike to “teach him a lesson.” Why? Because they don’t understand he has a right to be on the road. I have not found Cedar Rapids to be a pedestrian-friendly town either. I wish I had a $1 for every time I had to jump out of the way of a car making a turn while walking WITH THE PED SIGNAL downtown. One time I got sandwiched between two cars making left turns at the same time, one behind me, the other in front of me. Another time, a driver continued to make a right onto a one-way even as I repeatedly beat on his hood in an effort to keep him from running me over, as I was in the crosswalk when he started turning. The guy never even looked right before making the turn, as he was only concerned about cars hitting him, not pedestrians. I wish bike riders a lot of luck.

  2. Gee, guess I’m old fashion. I would rather have a “street Friendly community” with no potholes etc.. that wouldn’t damage my car. Guess we must have our Priorites tho!

  3. Marion has curb cuts at most intersections, allowing riding on sidewalks along busy streets. I look forward to bike racks on buses. They work well in Portland OR.

  4. It is great to see the city moving in this direction, but we have a long, long way to go. Ask anyone who rides a bicycle around Cedar Rapids and they’ll have several stories like Dot’s.

    Two suggestions to help get the cycling-friendly atmosphere going:

    Install bike racks at City Hall to show support and encourage people who work there to ride instead of drive.

    Come along for the Bike Lane Friday ride starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 30, at Greene Square Park. Be ready to follow traffic laws and be polite.

  5. I agree with DOT. I hope it will not take another tragedy before the government realizes that routine enforcement of existing traffic laws and public education are the only realistic methods to change the hostile behaviors of motorists toward bicyclists.

    By the way, did anyone notice if any of the Cedar Rapids City Council members participated in Bike Lane Friday?

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