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The Iowa Bicycle Summit is today in the Des Moines metro area to promote cycling as a form of transportation, recreation, and health.

Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, says the conference will feature a variety of experts in the field of cycling and trail development. Wyatt says people who will attend include cycling enthusiasts, bike retailers, city planners, trail builders, tourism officials, and more.

“We’re looking at things like how to put mountain bike trails into a community, or looking at the trail that’s running along the Iowa River Valley between Iowa Falls and Marshalltown,” Wyatt says, “and then we’re even talking about some federal policies, so how do we get block funding at the federal level so you can build more infrastructure in your community.”

Workshops will include topics like, “Building Sustainable Bike Trails,” “Seven Interventions for Bike and Pedestrian Safety,” and, “How to Maximize Your Trail Brand.” “Bike trails have become a really good connector between urban areas and rural areas,” Wyatt says. “They’ve brought economic development and economic impact out into the rural areas, which is sorely needed. You don’t have to look very far to see places like Madrid and Slater that have businesses that have popped up along the trails to serve the bicyclists that ride out there.”

Many of Iowa’s popular bike trails are interconnected, so a cyclist can ride for hours without ever having to get on the road. Wyatt says Iowa easily has more than two-thousand miles of dedicated bike trails, and he says still more are needed.“Unfortunately, we do have some of what we call ‘trail impaired’ areas of the state that just don’t have trails,” Wyatt says, “and definitely there’s some demand there for people that want that.”


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