300+ Cyclists Turn out for 2014 Mayors’ Bike Ride

By Brady Smith, KCRG-TV9

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Linn County Mayors’ Bike Ride is held to get people thinking of cycling as transportation, not just for fun. Ride organizers use the event to highlight how easy it is to bike to where you want to go around Linn County, but they say it’s also a chance to see how they can improve accommodations for cyclists. Many cyclists said Monday the city’s bike trails are much better than just a few years ago, but some said trail access, visibility and safety could still be better.

Larry Riley of Cedar Rapids was one of hundreds participating in the ride, and we caught up with him after the 8-mile trek.

“Being on a bike gives you a great feeling,” said Riley, who bikes a few times a week.

But that great feeling could get even better for other riders. Jesse Gearheart, also of Cedar Rapids, would like to see more connections to nearby trails.

“More access to what’s existing would be nice,” Gearheart told us. He still doesn’t feel comfortable biking in some areas with his daughter. “I felt safe because we were in a big group, but if it was just us, I probably wouldn’t ride downtown on the bike lanes.”

Amy Conyers said seeing more those lanes is great, but echoing Gearheart, added having kids along for the ride is a challenge.

“I think it seems a lot different in regards to having the lanes there, but it’s still really nice having the volunteers at all the intersections. I think that’s probably the hardest when you’re taking the kids,” Conyers told us.

As president of the Linn County Trails Association, Steve Hershner understands those perspectives. He’s seen cars using downtown bike lanes as turn lanes and points out some intersections aren’t as bike friendly as they could be.

“The thing people have to remember is that sometimes as a bike, you are a pedestrian,” Hershner told us. “There are pedestrian signals you can press that will let you get across and give you a little more time.”

However, Hershner said the city’s “Paving for Progress” street repair plan, which will unfold over the next decade with funding from the 1% local option sales tax, is streamlining things for cyclists along the way.

“That’s going to put a street service down that’s more comfortable for bikes,” Hershner said.

Hershner said the LCTA is working on a capital campaign, raising money to finish paving the Cedar Valley Nature Trail to Center Point. He said there’s also been talk of brightening up the markings on existing bike lanes in downtown to make them more visible.

l Comments: (319) 368-8863; brady.smith@kcrg.com

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