Car-less in the Corridor Day 2: Iowa City to Cedar Rapids challenging but doable

Car-less in the Corridor Day 2: Iowa City to Cedar Rapids challenging but doable

Teachable moment of the day: bike commuting from Iowa City to Cedar Rapids makes for a long day, especially when you have a brutal headwind cutting across Iowa’s open landscape. I have a roughly 33 mile commute from Iowa City to The Gazette newsroom in Cedar Rapids, and I was curious what options I could find, and how long it’d take me to cover that ground. Public transit actually gets you further up and down the corridor then you might expect, but there’s still a good gap between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids where one transit system stops and the other starts. The No. 11 bus in CR Transit (free this week for bike commuters) runs every half hour during rush hour and every hour during off peak times. It takes about 20 minutes from the main bus terminal to its furthest southern stop – Wright Brothers Boulevard, almost to the Linn-Johnson County line. From there, you must overcome 11 miles on your own to North Liberty, where you can pick up a bus that connects with the Coralville and Iowa City transit systems. The problem is, the North Liberty bus only runs a loop twice a day, once in the morning and once in the early evening. I also looked into ride share websites, but didn’t have any luck, possibly because I just needed one-off ride and I didn’t really have anything to share. I also checked into Linn County Lifts and Johnson County Seats, but those transit services cater to disabled and elderly commuters, and only provide rides outside the county when resources allow. Some employers, such…
Car-less in the Corridor Day 1: Pack the rain gear

Car-less in the Corridor Day 1: Pack the rain gear

Editor’s note: Here’s a re-cap of day one without a car. TheGazette.com is also posting a map and multimedia from the journey. If you are bike commuting this week, during Bike to Work Week, use #BikeWeekIowa to Tweet your experiences.  It’s about 2.5-3 miles one-way from home on the east side of Iowa City to The Gazette/KCRG newsroom in downtown Iowa City, depending on my route. The quickest way is down Court Street and Burlington but it is also the busiest. Those streets also have some nasty potholes. The side roads are much better for commuting, so I changed course 2/3 the way to work and kept to backroads for the ride home. Road conditions aren’t great, but it’s much more relaxing without the cars. 30th Century Bikes in Iowa City was hosting a bike commuter breakfast, which I stopped at for coffee on the way to work. A student on the way to class, a couple people working downtown and a few leisure cyclists were also there.  The rainy forecast today lead me to pack some extra gear, including rain coat and rain pants. They proved necessary for the ride home at the tail end of the afternoon thunderstorm. I considered hopping on the city bus, which drops off close to home, but the rain was letting up by that point and I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to test my rain gear. The sky got really dark, but thankfully a blinky light was stashed in the bottom of my pannier, which I threw on my tail for the ride home to help cars see me. Aside...
Bike Challenge: Car-less in the Corridor for B2WW

Bike Challenge: Car-less in the Corridor for B2WW

    A week ago I posted about bike month and Bike to Work Week, which is this week, May 12-16. I wrote that while there’s several positive attributes to bike commuting, there’s also a number of obstacles.   The subtle hint was that we pat ourselves on the back once a year for our bike friendliness, but there’s some inherent challenges to living without a car in our communities.   One reader called me on this sentence from the article: “Many streets remain too congested or narrow for cyclists to travel safely, and on many roads there’s not a place for cyclists.”   The person wrote, “I think this one sentence is really inaccurate.”   “The road IS the place for cyclists - by Iowa law cyclists get a full lane, regardless of the width or traffic conditions. Research shows that bicyclists are safer on the road than on sidewalks. To me, that sentence seems to imply that cyclists don’t belong, and my concern is in justifying motorists aggression toward cyclists. That’s not right.”   The reader is right. That statement was based on assumptions and hearsay rather than a tested fact.   So, what better way to find out reality than a first-hand look?   This week I’ll make a good-faith effort to go car-less in the Corridor, and document how it goes. Follow along. I am also looking for as many others that want to (safely) give it a try, and share how it goes. Send me an email at brian.morelli@sourcemedia.net if you’d like to share you experiences. You can also tweet using hashtag #BikeWeekIowa It’s not case sensitive. I’ll be using...
Does it work to bike to work in Eastern Iowa?

Does it work to bike to work in Eastern Iowa?

May is designated as national bike month, and over the next few weeks you’ll hear about local cycling activities, perhaps none more than Bike to Work Week, which is May 12-16. Bike to Work Week is part of a national movement that’s been getting more and more attention each year. Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and other communities are celebrating with several activities. Events are listed at the bottom of this article. Cycling is a healthy activity, it reduces the number of cars on the road, it doesn’t require natural resources, and it doesn’t produce emissions. Some cities and towns have added amenities to encourage cycling, but there’s still plenty of obstacles that can serve as a deterrent. Plenty of cyclists have a comfort level navigating traffic, but for others there’s a perception that it isn’t safe, especially on busy and narrow streets if they don’t have a designated bike lane. Many cyclists and motorists are still learning rules of a shared road, which can create some dangerous situations. Trail systems don’t flow through the key areas where people need to get, in many cases. Some communities, such as Waterloo and Cedar Falls, have adopted an approach called Complete Streets, which is an urban planning philosophy where the road is for everyone including all ages of motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, shoppers or others. And, new project designs reflect that. That step was taken as part of the Blue Zones initiative to become healthier communities.   What changes would you like to see to make biking to work safer and more realistic for people in our region?    Full disclosure, I am an occasional cyclist and...