By Isabella Senno
On your mark, get set, take a bike.
Johnson County is in the midst of celebrating its first-ever Bike Month, having outgrown previous years’ Bike to Work Week programming. Organized by Think Bicycles of Johnson County, the communities of Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, and University Heights have partnered with local businesses and cycling associations for a month of activities intended to promote a
message of education and outreach.
One of the quintessential events for Iowa City will be the annual Car-Bus-Bike Race on May 15.
“It’s basically a way to show that there are lots of ways to get around and that … a bicycle can be a fairly quick and efficient way to get around,” said Anne Duggan, the president of Think Bicycles of Johnson County. “We actually like to have the elected officials do it just because it helps keep them in the loop as to convenience and accommodations [for bicycles] and that kind of thing.”
Officials are drawn from each of the participating communities.
“We try to have somebody either from the county or from one of those municipalities — University Heights, North Liberty, Coralville, and Iowa City — so each year we have a different group of people who are involved in the race, but we try to have representation from three of those entities,” said Sarah Walz, an assistant transportation planner with the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County.
Duggan said Bike Month 2017 was planned as a flexible extension of Bike to Work Week, which is now integrated into a larger celebration.
“We went from having 12 events last year on the flier [to] this year’s flier having 29 events, and we have more that are on the Facebook page that didn’t make the flier,” Duggan said. “The programming came together in a very organic way.”
More than 10 businesses around the area have joined in this year, including the Coralville New Pioneer Co-op, which will host a meeting May 17.
“We’ve always been an advocate of bike riding as an organization for its positive health and environmental impact,” said Eric Creach, a store leader for the Coralville New Pioneer Co-op. “This is just a very fun event that the community has responded to really well; it’s gown and grown and grown.”
Bike Month 2017 began May 2 and extends for another three weeks, containing events that range from family-friendly trail rides to breakfast gatherings. This variation in programming is meant to encourage everyone to enjoy the month rather than limiting activities to serious cyclists only, Duggan said.
“We’re trying to reach … the ‘interested but concerned’ folks who would like to ride and who are interested in riding more often or frequently to more things but are nervous about riding …” Walz said. “The importance is that if we’re really going to make bicycling viable, it’s going to have to reach a far greater number of people, and those are people who are less familiar with bicycling.”