Over 60 people this year attended the Iowa Bike Summit hosted by the Iowa Bicycle Coalition and Iowa DOT. I had the pleasure of hosting room two and presenting at the summit this year. Our keynote speaker was Malrley Blonski the individual behind All Bodies on Bikes gave a moving talk on how to create a more inclusive cycling community. The needs of bicycles and equipments for all bodies and changing how events work to make them more accessible to a greater number of participants. 

The first talk in room two was by Lora Friest from the Iowa Tourism Board, and the importance of partnering with them to maximize your bike brand, event, or even trail. I had never thought of bike trails (paved and dirt) as needing brands before, but if you don’t tell anyone about your bike trail, will they know to come to your community and ride? And spend some time in the area. Pumping dollars into the local community after pumping it on the track. Visit www.traveliowa.com to upload your cycling events, trails, and trailheads to get more people riding in your community. 

The next talk was from Mike Bell and Charlie Cowell of RDG Planning & Design about the River’s Edge project. A new 36-mile bike trail spanning from Marshalltown to Steamboat Rock that traverses seven communities over two counties. They discussed the importance of making a strong plan for a project of this scale and inviting the community to participate. They emphasized that this bike trail they are designing is not theirs it is for the community, so local input is vital. It reminded me of the importance of staying flexible as we try to promote cycling to different communities across Iowa, a one size fits all approach doesn’t work. It will take time to get to know the community and how they want to work with us to promote active transportation. I can’t wait for the trail to be completed so that I can head to Marshalltown and cycle the whole trail!

The last (and least) talk of room two was by Matt Burkey, the Safe Routes to School Manager. Describing to an apt audience the benefits of a Safe Routes to School program and the Coalition’s ambitious five year plan to change the program. Matt’s talk led to members of Iowa reaching out to learn more because they want Safe Routes programs in their communities. 

The summit was a great event to learn a lot and make connections across the state. Soon the slides of the talks will be posted on https://iowabicyclesummit.com/ so you can see what you missed or remember what you saw. 

Lora Friest of the Iowa Tourism Board letting the audience know about free tools to promote their cycling projects in Iowa.

Speaker Matt Burkey with summit goer Jennifer MacBain-Stephens.