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The year was 2011 and the month way May. The League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designations and Des Moines was (finally) one of 'em!

When Des Moines first applied for BFC status in 2006, it failed to received any designation. In 2008, Des Moines applied again and received honorable mention.

Bronze

Bronze isn't the Top Dog, but it is still on the winner's podium, and that... was good thing for Des Moines. The designation earned some well-deserved press and resulted in a nice push for more bicycle amenities throughout the city.

Trail connectivity plans were looking good, bike racks were being installed and the DM traffic planners were looking at the big picture. It was still an uphill battle to gather enough funding to make things happen.

Legacy makes Legacies

A little over a year later a legacy bond popped into the scene for Polk County that had the possibility to provide $50 million in park and trail improvements over a 20 year period.

The only catch... It needed 60% of the voters to vote 'YES' to raise their taxed $9 a year. Anytime the public is asked to raise their own taxes, we can bet which way the vote will go. A massive campaign ensued to educate the public and it paid off!

On Nov 6th 2012, the bond passes with 72.3% YES votes!

Thus began an evolution...

Four Years

Fast forward Four years... Four really fast years.

Think about all the great things that have happened in the last four years. The trail connections, the bike lanes, New Trails, bike rack installations, park and green-way improvements, city-wide trail signage, hubs and kiosks, new mountain bike trails, Bike Month growth, increased DART Bike rack usage, downtown bicycle parking and amenities. Breweries, restaurants and bars along the bike trail. Urban Assault Rides, Bike parking at the Farmer's market, 80/35 music festival and the Art Festival. The growth of the Iowa Bike Expo and RAGBRAI announcement party. B-cycle.

These are some highlights that have occurred, but there is so much more. The downtown urban revitalization has sparked a millennia movement to be healthy and car-free. There are many newly formed committees to over-see new projects and visions throughout the city and many of it's suburbs and close rural communities.

Des Moines is (almost) Hip. Ok... It is very Hip!


Hi-Ho Silver

Thou Shall Apply Again - In late February 2015, the City of Des Moines submitted another Bicycle Friendly Community application. 12 pages of updated information, statistics, demographics, profiles and improvements were sent to the League of American Bicyclists.

Will Des Moines take one more step UP on the podium? Has the city make enough improvements to be considered "SILVER" ?

Denver CO, Bozeman, MT, New York, NY, Sacramento, CA, Redmond WA and even Iowa City IA have Silver designations (All Silver Cities) - How does Des Moines match up?

Sometime in early May, Des Moines get a notice.

Prediction

Des Moines has made some undeniable great strides in the last 4 years. Is everything the way we'd like it? No, but will it ever be?

Even with all the improvements, amenities and cultural up-ticks, there are still three areas that Des Moines is still lacking - A full-time Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, Education outreach and Enforcement (laws and ordinances). If you look at the graph below, we believe Des Moines DOES meet the requirements.

We predict Des Moines will be upgraded from Bronze to Silver.

What do YOU think?

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