116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Supersharrows, green bike lanes and road diets are more than just funny-sounding bike-themed words. They've made biking in the Corridor safer and more convenient, some cyclists say.
Richard Bradford, a Rockwell Collins engineer who pedaled to the 'Bike Lunch with the Mayor” on Wednesday as part of 2016 Bike to Work Week, has biked the same route to work for years. The little bit of paint to mark bike lanes has made a noticeable difference, he said.
'The bike lanes really make a lot of difference to get cars to give you enough room on the road.” said Bradford, 54. 'It's gotten much better in recent years with more bike lanes, curb cuts that make it easier to use sidewalks on the outskirts of town, and more people are biking so motorists are looking out.”
Cities in the Corridor have been racing to become more bike friendly, a quality of life indicator many now expect in urban settings. Installing odd-titled bike amenities is part of the process, and much more is coming.
Iowa City is testing a bike boulevard - a low-volume and low-speed street that gives priority to cyclists. College Street will be converted to a bike boulevard from 8 a.m. to noon this Saturday.
Cedar Rapids painted green bike lanes to designate a place for cyclists, and expanded the use of 'supersharrows” to Third Street SE in the New Bohemia District recently. These paint markings have a bike silhouette bordered by dashed lines in the center of the travel lane.
'That marking helps designate so cars recognize a cyclist can be in that position on the road,” said Emily Muhlbach, a Cedar Rapids public works spokeswoman.
A variety of road projects this year and in the years to come, including 42nd Street, B Avenue, Memorial Drive and Second Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids, will add bike lanes or supersharrows, said Ron Griffith, a Cedar Rapids traffic engineer.
Road diets, in which a four lane is squeezed to three with the center lane for turning and bike lanes on each side, are also being studied.
Recreational trail miles in the Cedar Rapids metro have doubled to 50 since 2009 and 7.5 miles are planned this year. New stretches of CEMAR trail will be added near Daniels Park and the Mount Mercy University sport complex, he said.
Riders said conditions are better than just a few years ago, but more work remains.
Bradford said he'd like to see better bike access on the tight Edgewood Road bridge over the Cedar River. Still, even little things such as valet bike parking at the Farmers Market and instructional sessions about how to use the new bike amenities at Meet Me at the Market, a weekly evening social outing, sets a tone that Cedar Rapids embraces cycling, he said.
Kathy Murphy, of Cedar Rapids and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, describes herself as a 'seven day a week rider.” She said too many geese and the lack of east-west bike trails are her top concerns, but better cycling infrastructure downtown has allowed her time to notice different businesses and she doesn't have to pay for parking.
'The volume of cyclists has increased, and the addition of bike lanes and sharrows are positives,” she said. 'This has become a great biking city.”
Cedar Rapids is considered a bronze level bike-friendly city by the League of American Cyclists, a national bike advocacy organization. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett said his goal is to reach silver. Platinum is the top ranking, followed by gold.
'Every city is competing against other cities,” Corbett said. 'We are the first community in the state that has protected bike lanes.”
These are lanes where a barrier separates cars and bicycles. Cedar Rapids uses parked cars as its barrier on Third Avenue SE downtown.
Iowa City has the top bike friendly designation in the state at a silver.
In March, the Iowa City Council adopted a strategic plan to achieve gold status by 2017 with an ambition to eventually reach platinum, Mayor Jim Throgmorton said.
'Making bicycling on streets safer” is the No. 1 request from cyclists, said Throgmorton, a bike commuter. Other top requests include putting a road diet on Gilbert Street and making the Burlington Street Bridge near downtown better for bikes, he said.
Iowa City has lagged in adding bike accommodations to city streets, but the college town has the highest bike ridership in the state at 2.3 percent of the population, a recent Census shows.