Bike to school and enjoy ice cream

BY CHRIS CLARK | APRIL 22, 2009 7:26 AM

Two favorite childhood memories will come together today on the Pentacrest: bike riding and eating ice cream.

The UI Environmental Coalition is teaming up with local businesses and other university organizations to celebrate Earth Day.

“We need a cool event to host for Earth Day, and we are trying to promote biking as an alternative mode of transportation,” said Eric Holthaus, a co-president of the UI Environmental Coalition.

The coalition will host a variety activities on the Pentacrest between 1 and 5 p.m. today. Two students will serve Heyn’s Ice Cream, UI Health and Wellness will hand out sweatshirts, and World of Bikes, 723 S. Gilbert St., will host clinics throughout the event, Holthaus said.

World of Bikes owner Ryan Baker said employees will offer on-the-spot technical support and host two open sessions — at 2 and 4 p.m. — to teach riders how to change flat tires and demonstrate other general bike maintenance.

“We like to get out to events like this and encourage earth-friendly recreation, promote the sport, and promote our business.”

New Pioneer Co-op, 22 S. Van Buren St., will also be on the Pentacrest today to hand out frozen treats to bikers.

Bike to School Day comes just two days after Kristopher Ackerson — the Johnson County Council of Governments assistant transportation planner — presented a Metro Bicycle Master Plan to the Iowa City City Council.

The plan is aimed at analyzing the city’s existing bicycle accommodations and services, assessing the bicycle needs of the community, and developing recommendations to accommodate the needs of local cyclists.

Ackerson said up to 10 percent of Iowa City residents commute by bike or foot.

The plan outlines several specific changes the city could make to help the community become more bicycle-friendly. Ackerson said if the plan is approved, the city should consider adding 5- foot-wide bicycle lanes on some streets, provide maps of trails and convenient bike paths, and find larger and better-quality space for bike parking.

Last month, the state Legislature considered a bill to improve safety for bicyclists using public roadways, but the measure didn’t pass.

The bill would have forced drivers to give cyclists at least 5 feet of space when passing and prohibit motorists from limiting bikers to only using designated lanes, among other changes.

Holthaus said he hopes more than 200 people will attend today’s Bike to School Day events, which he will consider an accomplishment if all of the ice cream is eaten.

“If we get people out there eating ice cream and socializing, then we were successful,” he said.

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