DES MOINES — It’s no coincidence the Iowa Department of Transportation is releasing its new edition of the Iowa Bike Map the same week tens of thousands of cycling enthusiasts are in the state for RAGBRAI.
Mark Hansen, a DOT transportation planner, says officials are hoping some of those out-of-state visitors will pick up a free bike map and make plans for a return trip to Iowa.
“Yeah, that’s the thought,” Hansen says, “and we tried to get some of the bike maps out before RAGBRAI actually started, so that on their trip out to Sioux City, hopefully, some of those biking teams stopped at the rest areas and found bike maps.”
The state ordered 150,000 bike maps this year and they’re available at all welcome centers, interstate rest areas, and by visiting iowadot.gov/iowabikes.
The maps display hundreds of miles of multiuse trails, as well as a summary of Iowa bicycling laws, and bike safety tips. They also include trail maps of the state’s largest cities, and something new this year that helps cyclists choose the routes that best suit their level of riding experience.
“It’s great because it shows the traffic volumes on the roadway system,” Hansen says. “We query our database and we will show the amounts of traffic that’s on the roadway, so that’s one feature that I really liked and I know a lot of the other riders do as well.” The maps detail paved and unpaved bike paths, as well as trailheads, restrooms, public water supplies, and more. Iowa’s interstates were highlighted in red on previous maps, but that’s changed this year.
“We wanted to mute that color back a little bit so the symbolization is there showing that you can’t ride on the interstates,” Hansen says, “but the interstates aren’t as highlighted as they were once before so they’re gray, kind of muted in the background.”
The maps once detailed every bike trail in Iowa that was at least five miles long, but that list got to be too long, so Hansen says this year’s map shows 51 trails that are at least -ten- miles long.
“We do show the bike trails that are shorter than that on the front with a dot, with a black square,” Hansen says, “and those are the ones that we say, ‘ask the local authorities,’ to see what information they have on those trails.”
The map’s cover photo this year is of the new Interstate 74 bridge at the Quad Cities which includes a bike trail on its western span.