Iowa DOT Releases Draft Bike Plan

The Iowa DOT has released a long-awaited draft of the Iowa Bicycle and Pedestrian Long Range Plan.  The plan builds upon the State Transportation Plan, Iowa In Motion 2014 to expand opportunities and further improve conditions for bicycling and walking in Iowa.  You can read the full plan at https://iowadot.gov/iowainmotion/files/BikePedPlanDraft.pdf

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition is excited about the final product. “This plan has the potential to be a game-changer for walking and bicycling in Iowa”, says Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.  “This is a shift of philosophy to make bike lanes, trails, sidewalks, and curb cuts the rule rather than an exception. This doesn’t mean every highway in Iowa is getting a sidewalk, but it does put forth some clear procedures to evaluate where the infrastructure is needed.”  

The plan details how the Iowa DOT intends to “mainstream” bicycling with investments into infrastructure, programs, and policies.  The plan creates a system of measurements to judge if the efforts are effective. The key performance indicators include:

  • Increase the mode share of bicycles in our transportation system.
  • Decrease overall crashes.
  • Decrease crashes involving kids.
  • Increase the percentage of transpo network suitable for bicycling.

The plan includes a complete streets policy to be adopted by the Iowa DOT.  A complete streets policy directs routine safe accommodation of all transportation users including bicyclists and pedestrians. The policy has a stringent system of review if accommodation of bikes and peds are deemed unnecessary.  

The complete section of the plan addresses the funding strategy need to complete bike and ped projects. The funding strategy recommends a three-pronged approach: 1. Complete streets funding of roadway projects; 2. Rural Road Gap elimination; and 3. Stand-alone funding.  The plan outlines complete streets funding as, “Providing bicycle and pedestrian accommodations as small but important parts of larger street and road projects and funding these accommodations from the same source as the larger project is the most significant opportunity to improve Iowa’s bicycling and walking systems.”  Same source funding is estimated to be a small percentage of funding directed to the bike/ped components, but significant in overall expansion of the bicycling and pedestrian network.

An additional component of the plan is an alignment for US Bike Routes in Iowa. Iowa is currently planning for five US Bike Routes.  Two of the routes include the Lewis & Clark Trail and Mississippi River Trail. The other routes include USBR 51 – a north-south route from Missouri to Minnesota through Des Moines and Okoboji; USBR 36 from Sioux City to Dubuque; and USBR 40 from Council Bluffs to Davenport.

The plan endorses the work the Iowa Bicycle Coalition has been leading with the efforts to pass a safe passing distance law and other policies to create safer bicycling.  The plan has implementation and education steps to bring DOT staff up to speed and make resources available for projects called on by the plan.

The Iowa Bicycle Coalition extends a congratulations to the Iowa DOT in release of the draft Iowa Bicycle and Pedestrian Long Range Plan.  The organization looks forward to the work ahead implementing the projects outlined in the plan.


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