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RAGBRAI riders and moving renters coexist in Iowa City

The ride coincided with a big day for students apartment moves

Riders early Saturday stream out of Iowa City along S. Gilbert Street after spending the last overnight stop of this year’s RAGBRAI in town. Gilbert Street is home to many student apartments, but despite the thousands of riders and street closures, tenants found they were able to move in or out in time for new annual leases. (Ben Roberts/Freelance)
Riders early Saturday stream out of Iowa City along S. Gilbert Street after spending the last overnight stop of this year’s RAGBRAI in town. Gilbert Street is home to many student apartments, but despite the thousands of riders and street closures, tenants found they were able to move in or out in time for new annual leases. (Ben Roberts/Freelance)
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IOWA CITY — RAGBRAI’s first overnight stop in Iowa City since 1976 fell on a moving day for some of the thousands of off-campus undergraduate students living in downtown apartments.

RAGBRAI restricted traffic along Gilbert Street throughout Friday and into Saturday morning. Renters moving in and out of downtown properties along the route largely still were able to go about business as usual, thanks to widely advertised advance warnings about lane closures and Iowa City police officers who directed traffic through the downtown area.

Recent University of Iowa graduate Cameron Whittaker’s lease for an apartment on S. Gilbert Street ends Sunday, but he began packing early and spent Friday moving to his hometown of Naperville, Ill.

Before the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa came through town, Whittaker’s landlord sent its renters an email warning outgoing tenants about street closures. Whittaker also took a look at Iowa City RAGBRAI route information.

Getting out of town took a little longer for him than usual Friday, but RAGBRAI didn’t overly complicate Whittaker’s move.

“I imagine if I just came expecting to move out and the road’s now closed, that would be a pain. Avoid downtown at all costs was sort of my logic,” Whittaker said.

About noon Friday, Apartments At Iowa tenants waiting to pick up or drop off keys formed a line leading out of the company’s 355 S. Gilbert St. office and down the block. Apartments At Iowa has more than 50 rental properties in and near the downtown area, seven of which are along Gilbert Street.

Bridget Huston, a junior at the University of Iowa, was one of the people moving into an Apartments At Iowa property on the west side of S. Gilbert Street.

“It’s kind of like, of course! Of course it (RAGBRAI) happens on the day that we move,” Huston said.

Huston, moving from Chicago with help from her family, came into Iowa City from the east and had to cross Gilbert Street to reach her apartment. By Friday afternoon, she had her moving van parked on Maiden Lane behind the building.

“Burlington and Gilbert were actually open. The cops let us through. ... So it wasn’t too terrible,” Huston said.

Eric Jones, co-owner of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City moving company Adamantine Spine Moving, said RAGBRAI was not a cause for concern for him or his employees.

“On the inconvenience scale it is pretty low. We’ve faced floods, blizzards, truck malfunctions, closed interstates; so 20,000 or 30,000 extra people in Iowa City is just a normal part of our work life,” Jones said.

Jones said most of his movers haven’t even had to worry about the street closures thanks to the police officers directing bicyclists and motorists through the city at major intersections, like the one at E. Burlington and S. Gilbert streets.

“Our trucks haven’t had to wait longer than 5 minutes at those lights,” Jones said. “ … They’ve done a pretty good job.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8514; molly.hunter@thegazette.com

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