# Bicycling

Iowa closes "resounding gaps" in state law on crosswalks

Iowa drivers will be required to yield to bicyclists and others on wheels in crosswalks, under a new law Governor Kim Reynolds signed on May 3.

Before House File 2568, Iowa was one of just twelve states where drivers approaching a crosswalk were required to yield only to pedestrians, defined narrowly as “any person afoot.” The bill expands the definition of pedestrian to include those using a “pedestrian conveyance,” “including but not limited to a wheelchair, stroller, skateboard, scooter, or other similar device.” It also makes clear that drivers must yield to “a person riding a bicycle crossing the roadway” within marked or unmarked crosswalks at an intersection.

Groups representing bicyclists, people with disabilities, and older Iowans had lobbied for the bill. At a House subcommittee in February, Iowa Bicycle Coalition executive director Luke Hoffman told lawmakers the crosswalks bill was his group’s second highest legislative priority, following a “hands-free” bill for drivers using cell phones.

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Calling on RAGBRAI riders to help plant milkweed for monarchs

Monarch butterfly enthusiasts have prepared more than 50,000 balls containing common milkweed seeds for riders participating in next week’s Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). As its name suggests, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is the most prevalent among the 17 types of milkweed found in Iowa. However, the use of genetically-modified Roundup Ready corn and soybeans greatly diminished common milkweed on Iowa cropland. “Kelly Milkweed” Guilbeau and a friend scattered some milkweed seeds while doing RAGBRAI in 2014, then prepared about 2,000 balls of seed to hand out during last summer’s ride across Iowa.

Elizabeth Hill, who manages the Conard Environmental Research Area at Grinnell College, has collaborated with Guilbeau on the Milkweed Matters initiative, greatly expanded this year. I wish them every success; driving around Iowa last week, I saw huge stands of wild parsnip along too many roadsides.

I enclose below two pictures of common milkweed blooming, as well as a press release explaining where riders can pick up seed balls to toss in unmowed ditches along the RAGBRAI route, which runs across southern Iowa from July 24 through 30.

You can learn more at the Milkweed Matters website and receive regular updates on Twitter (@milkweedmatters) or Facebook. Butterfly fans can find more good links at the Monarchs in Eastern Iowa website. Although I’m not skilled at identifying butterflies, I enjoy the occasional “butterfly forecasts” by the Poweshiek Skipper Project.

P.S.- Hill will always have a special place in my heart as the accidental godmother of Bleeding Heartland’s Iowa wildflower Wednesday series.

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2016 RAGBRAI route announced: A short ride across southern Iowa

After two straight years of taking bicyclists across northern parts of the state, the Des Moines Register announced this evening that the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) will cross southern Iowa from July 24 to 30. The route starting in Glenwood and ending in Muscatine will take riders “419.9 miles (third-shortest in the event’s 44-year history), with a total climb of 18,488 feet (making it the 24th flattest).”

Full details on the 2016 route are on the official RAGBRAI website. After the jump I’ve listed the overnight stops, along with daily mileage totals and feet of climb and some political trivia about places riders will visit this summer.

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2015 RAGBRAI route announced: Another northern trip

A few minutes ago, the Des Moines Register announced the 2015 route for the Register’s Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). None of the ten most-guessed overnight towns are on this year’s ride; many people wrongly predicted a southerly route after last year’s northern passage. Instead, most of the route will traverse northern Iowa again this year, until the last two nights in Coralville and Davenport. Muscatine boosters, buoyed by unsubstantiated rumors, will have to hope for next year.

A 15-mile gravel loop will be an option for riders on July 20, added this year to honor the memory of Steve Hed. The legendary bike designer passed away last November.

Overnight stops are after the jump, along with daily mileage totals and feet of climb. Three overnight stops on this year’s route were part of the original RAGBRAI in 1973.

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Weekend open thread: Walking the talk edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

State Representative Chuck Isenhart, the ranking Democrat on the Iowa House Environmental Protection Committee, has installed solar panels on his Dubuque home as a personal step to address climate change. Details are after the jump. Solar power has a reputation for being expensive to install, but technological advances and policy changes have reduced the payback time for many home and business owners. Isenhart expects to save money in the long-term. A bill approved during this year’s legislative session improved Iowa’s tax incentives for solar in several ways.

The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, begins its northern route in Rock Valley today. Good luck to everyone in the Bleeding Heartland community planning to do all or part of RAGBRAI. Last week’s weather would have been absolutely perfect; I hope the high temperatures will mostly stay below 90 this week. In its recent feature on “33 useful tips for newbies” to the experience, I found it strange that the Register focused so much on the drinking culture. Carl Voss, a Des Moines bicycling advocate and veteran of 36 RAGBRAIs, unloaded on what he called “sophomoric drivel” in an angry letter to the editor. Excerpt:

Granted, alcohol attracts some riders and non-riders among the more than 10,000 RAGBRAI participants. It happens. But trust me, that isn’t the way most participants enjoy RAGBRAI, Iowa and our communities.

Now, flip to the RAGBRAI website, where RAGBRAI (and therefore the Register) includes among the “Top 10 Recommendations for Rider Safety“: Do NOT drink alcohol and ride. […]

Publishing crap like this in your news columns will turn me off to RAGBRAI and the Register.

Another letter to the editor, which I’ve posted after the jump, focused on the large number of puppy mills near this year’s RAGBRAI route. The Iowa legislature passed a bill in 2010 that was designed to reduce abuses at puppy mills, but unfortunately Iowa still has some bad actors in the industry. Adopting a pet from a shelter such as the Animal Rescue League has so many advantages. If your heart is set on a purebred animal, at least visit the breeder’s facility before buying a pet.

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2014 RAGBRAI route announced: Northern passage, great architecture

On Saturday night the Des Moines Register announced the major stops on the 2014 Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). The rumor going around the Iowa Bike Expo today turned out to be true: the 418-mile ride takes a northern path through the state from July 20 to July 26. It is the third-shortest route in RAGBRAI history and the second-easiest in terms of feet of climb. I’ve seen some bicyclists complaining on social media already, but let’s face it: north-central Iowa is pretty flat.

Overnight stops are after the jump. This may be the best RAGBRAI ever for architecture buffs.

UPDATE: I’ve been playing around with the Location Affordability Portal this weekend, so just for fun I thought I’d see which of the RAGBRAI overnight stops are the most and least affordable for residents, in terms of housing and transportation costs. Scroll down for the available data.

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David Byrne feels the love for Des Moines

Iowans are easily offended when critics slam our way of life, but we love to be validated by outsiders. Countless Iowans shared David Byrne’s reflections on Des Moines on social media today. The former frontman for Talking Heads was in Des Moines over the July 4 weekend as a headliner for the 80/35 music festival. A huge bicycling advocate in New York City, Byrne loved the “gorgeous” and “well-maintained” network of bike trails in central Iowa. He also thought Des Moines compared favorably to other mid-sized cities he has visited on tour. In fact, he considers our community “maybe an ideal place to grow up or raise your kids,” to which I say, yes and yes.

I’ve posted a few excerpts from Byrne’s reflections after the jump. Ben Gran commented on the pieces at the Des Moines Is Not Boring blog.

P.S. – Talking Heads were the best of the new wave bands. Regardless of what you thought in high school, the group’s best album was Remain in Light. Those songs (especially the first four tracks) hold up incredibly well.

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2013 RAGBRAI route announced

On Saturday night the Des Moines Register announced the major stops on the 2013 Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). The 406.6-mile ride takes a southern path through the state from July 21 to July 27. It is the second-shortest route in RAGBRAI history and the seventh-easiest in terms of feet of climb. (Last year’s route was also on the easy side.) Bonus for RAGBRAI riders: this year’s route goes through what is probably Iowa’s best small town for ethnic food. UPDATE: The lead ride planner for the Des Moines Register explained at the announcement party that they went with a relaxed route this year because although last year’s ride was supposed to be easy, it turned out to be grueling with temperatures above 100 degrees several days.

Overnight stops are after the jump.

P.S.-An exhibition on RAGBRAI and the history of bicycling in Iowa will open this summer at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines, I learned today at the Iowa Bike Expo. Anyone who appreciates trails, bike lanes and everything that makes bicycling safer and more fun in Iowa should go join the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

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Iowa City introducing car-sharing program

The University of Iowa and the city of Iowa City announced a new car sharing program yesterday, available to local residents as well as to university students, faculty, and staff. Iowa City is already bike-friendly, well-served by public transit and the most walkable city in Iowa. Car sharing will be an excellent option for Iowa City residents who need a car only occasionally for errands or day trips. Many cities in other states have similar car sharing services. A friend of mine has used Zipcar for years and found it much cheaper than making monthly payments for a car, insurance, and parking in his area.

More details on the new car-sharing program are after the jump. On a related note, Erin Gustafson wrote a piece for the Sierra Club’s blog about the 30 bike-sharing programs that have popped up around the U.S. in recent years. Members of the Des Moines Bike Collective and Iowa Bicycle Coalition helped get Des Moines B-cycle going downtown.

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Weekend open thread: Bicycling in Iowa

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? If you use bike trails in Iowa, you’ve probably noticed the multitude of people apparently training for the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), which starts one week from today. I hope the intense heat breaks before then. Stay safe and hydrated, cyclists, and remember to call out “rider up” or “passing on your left” when appropriate. I’ve seen some near-collisions with walkers or runners on the trails.

I still haven’t taken my bike out to ride the High Trestle Trail, but those who do should be aware that local police are reportedly issuing lots of tickets to bicyclists who don’t come to a full stop at every stop sign. One officer even ticketed a woman who did stop at a crossing, because he has a chip on his shoulder got the impression she wasn’t going to stop. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition reacted to that incident here.

Central Iowans, if you have an old bike that never gets used, consider donating it to the Des Moines Bike Collective. They will fix it up and either give it away or sell it at a reasonable price to someone in need. The Des Moines Bike Collective’s free valet bike parking at the downtown Des Moines farmers market is a great service as well, conveniently located near good Indian food, “Tacopacolypse” and herbal lemonade from Blue Gate Farm’s stand.

This is an open thread; All topics welcome.

2012 RAGBRAI route announced

On Saturday night the Des Moines Register announced the major stops on the 2012 Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). The 471-mile ride will start in Sioux Center on July 21 and end in Clinton on July 28.

Overnight stops are after the jump, along with findings from a new study on the economic impacts of recreational bicycling for Iowa.

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Weekend open thread: Local Iowa news edition

Dubuque area residents are still dealing with the aftermath of more than 10 inches of rain in a 24-hour period this week, which caused massive flash flooding and road closures. It was a one-day record for rainfall. Governor Terry Branstad changed his schedule on July 28 to inspect the damage.

The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa wrapped up today in Davenport. From what I’ve read and seen on the news, it sounds like the pass-through and overnight towns generally did a great job providing refreshments and entertainment for the riders. It can’t have been pleasant bicycling and camping out in this week’s high heat, but thousands of riders made it all the way to the Mississippi River. RAGBRAI officials made minor route changes in Davenport, fearing flooding after the heavy rain in Dubuque, but the river stayed in its banks.

A little more than a year ago, flooding washed away the dam at Lake Delhi in Delaware County. The lake quickly drained, ruining what had been a popular resort area. The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied funding for people who owned houses on the former lake. Property values and tax receipts are way down. In the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund bill for fiscal year 2012, state legislators included funding for a Lake Delhi dam restoration study, as well as “intent” language regarding future funds for reconstruction. Branstad used his item veto power to remove the planned funding to rebuild the dam, saying any commitment was premature before the study results have been received. More details on Branstad’s veto are after the jump. I see his point, but the veto will hurt local efforts to secure other financing for the project.

It’s worth noting that Branstad urged state legislators to pass a bill this year promoting nuclear reactor construction in Iowa, even though MidAmerican is only one year into a three-year feasibility study on that project. The pro-nuclear bill passed the Iowa House but didn’t come up for a floor vote in the Iowa Senate.

This week Kiplinger released its 2011 list of “Best Value Cities” nationwide, and Cedar Rapids was ranked number 9. Analysts cited strong local employers, good amenities, reasonable home prices, and a good recovery from the 2008 flooding. Kiplinger mentioned major downtown renovation projects but not the I-JOBS state infrastructure bonding initiative, which was a crucial for financing those projects. State Representative Renee Schulte, who represents part of northeast Cedar Rapids, cheered the praise from Kiplinger. Like all other Iowa House Republicans, she voted against the I-JOBS program. Schulte won her first election in Iowa House district 37 by just 13 votes in 2008. The Democrat she defeated, Art Staed, is seeking a rematch in the new House district 66 in 2012.

This is an open thread. What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers?

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Events coming up this week

Earth Day is Friday, April 22, but festivals, community clean-ups and related celebrations begin this week in many Iowa communities. Details on those and other events are after the jump. As always, please post a comment or send me an e-mail if you know of another public event that should be included on this calendar.

While I was checking the Iowa Environmental Council’s calendar and April newsletter, I learned that earlier this year, the American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter office in Des Moines became the U.S. Green Building Council first LEED Platinum certified project in Iowa. Congratulations to the AIA for demonstrating how to do an office renovation in an eco-friendly way. Click here to learn more about the project’s sustainable features.  

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Weekend open thread: 2011 RAGBRAI route edition

The Des Moines Register announced the overnight stops for the 39th Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) this evening. It starts in Glenwood (Mills County, south of Council Bluffs) on July 24 with overnights in Atlantic (Cass County), Carroll (Carroll County), Boone (Boone County), Altoona (Polk County), Grinnell (Poweshiek County) and Coralville (Johnson County) before ending in Davenport (Scott County) on July 30.

Go to ragbrai.com for more information about the ride or to register. Lots of RAGBRAI trivia can be found here. For instance,

• Longest RAGBRAI route: 550 miles from Hawarden to Clinton in 1985 Shortest route: 370 miles from Onawa to Lansing in 1977

• Average length of RAGBRAI route: 472 miles

• Longest single day: 114 miles from Webster to Waverly in 1980

• Shortest single day: 25 miles from Elkader to Guttenberg, also in 1980 […]

• Most climb: 26,374 feet of incline going up hills between Missouri Valley and Keokuk in 1981

• Least climb: 10,675 feet of incline going up hills between Onawa and Lansing in 1977

• Most climb in a single day: 5,942 feet of incline between Des Moines and Williamsburg in 1973. That’s almost 10 trips up the state’s tallest skyscraper, the 630-foot tower at 801 Grand.

• Least climb in a single day: 760 feet of incline from Onawa to Ida Grove in 1977

This is an open thread. What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers?

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"Road diet" hasn't affected commute on major Des Moines artery

When the city of Des Moines put Ingersoll Avenue on a “road diet” last month, some locals warned the change would inconvenience drivers and hurt area businesses. I drive down Ingersoll several times a week and have noticed no change in the traffic flow. Now a new study shows commuters have hardly been affected:

In early May, Ingersoll was “re-striped” between Polk Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, decreasing the number of vehicle lanes from four to three. There is one lane in each direction, a center left-turn lane and bicycle lanes on both sides of the street.

In the worst case, travel times increased roughly 20 seconds for westbound motorists traveling between Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and 42nd Street during the afternoon rush hour, said Gary Fox, the city’s traffic engineer. There were essentially no changes overall and slight improvements in midday vehicle travel times, he added. […]

The Ingersoll plan is part of a broader “complete streets” initiative that aims to make Des Moines streets more accessible to bicycles and pedestrians.

Giving people safe alternatives to driving is the main reason to adopt “complete streets” policies, but this re-striping also created about 50 additional on-street parking spaces, which helps Ingersoll business owners and their customers. Click here for more information on road diets and here to learn about complete streets. Like Des Moines, the small town of Cascade, Iowa City and the Johnson County Council of Governments have also adopted complete streets policies. Earlier this year, Dubuque received a federal grant to help residents of the historic Millwork District commute to work on foot, bike, or via public transit.

LATE UPDATE: On June 24 I had to drive west almost the whole length of Ingersoll just before 5 pm, which must be around the worst time for “rush hour” traffic. I didn’t notice any problems, and hardly saw any congestion except for the stretch between 24th and 31st streets. Even that wasn’t bad.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

Governor Chet Culver kicks off his re-election campaign on Monday, May 17. The governor, First Lady Mari Culver, and Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge will hold events in 41 counties over five days. Members of the public can RSVP to attend the Culver campaign events here.

Details on those and many other events can be found after the jump.

Bike to Work week also begins next Monday and runs through May 21. According to the Iowa Bicycle Coalition,

In 2009, 716 employers, 114 cities, and 2,395 commuters (22% first-timers) participated. Approximately 63,188 commuting miles were pledged, 3,510 gallons of gas saved, and $7,336.83 saved in fuel costs. Contact Mark Wyatt at (515) 309-2867 or mark@iowabicyclecoalition.org.

Here’s hoping the bicycle commuters will get warm, dry weather next week.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

Food advice for the Iowa State Fair, which runs from August 13-23: The best deal on lemonade is at the honey producers’ booth in the ag building. The best ice cream is in the Bauder’s truck, not far from the ag building. Don’t miss popcorn with real butter.

If you’re looking for something useful to do in August, I’ve got lots of event details after the jump.

Please consider attending some town hall meetings with members of Congress. Don’t let right-wing astroturf mobs dominate all of this month’s town-hall meetings.

As always, post a comment or send an e-mail to desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com if you know of something I’ve left out. You can volunteer for Curt Hanson’s campaign in Iowa House district 90 any weekend this month. I noticed that Mariannette Miller-Meeks has been knocking on doors for the Republican candidate, Stephen Burgmeier.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks (updated)

Who else is looking forward to the Iowa State Fair, which runs from August 13-23?

If you’re looking for something useful to do in August, I’ve got lots of event details after the jump. As always, post a comment or send an e-mail to desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com if you know of something I’ve left out. You can volunteer for Curt Hanson’s campaign in Iowa House district 90 any weekend this month.

Please submit a comment to preserve public input on CAFO permits by Thursday, August 6. The Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter has made it easy for people to send comments to the right DNR official as well as all the members of the Environmental Protection Commission.

UPDATE: Added some public events featuring Democratic members of Congress. Don’t let right-wing astroturf mobs dominate all of this month’s town-hall meetings.

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Register announces overnight RAGBRAI stops

I’ve never done the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, but I know many of my readers have. I thought you’d be interested in this story about the route for the 38th RAGBRAI, scheduled for July 19-25, 2009:

[T]he ride cuts a 442-mile route through the southern half of the state, with overnight stops in Council Bluffs, Red Oak, Greenfield, Indianola, Chariton, Ottumwa, Mt. Pleasant and Burlington.

The route is the sixth-shortest in the ride’s history but ranks tenth in terms of overall climb, rising 22,806 from its start in the Missouri River to its finish in the Mississippi. Even so, riders won’t struggle any more than they did last year on the asphalt rollercoaster between Harlan and Jefferson.

“You go south and people just assume it’s going to be really hilly, but this year will be pretty close to last year,” said RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz. “It’ll be an extremely scenic adventure.”

I think Bleeding Heartland needs an official RAGBRAI blogger, assuming internet access is available along the way. Any volunteers out there?

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

Send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) or post a comment if you know of another event that should be added to this calendar.

Sunday, January 18:

From Blog for Iowa (click the link for more details):

On Sunday, January 18, the Iowa City Environmental Film Festival and Sierra Club will sponsor a screening of Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars.  The film portrays how Texans formed unlikely coalitions to fight the construction of nineteen coal-fired power plants being fast-tracked by the state’s governor, Rick Perry.  The film, narrated by Robert Redford, has received numerous awards.

Representatives from two groups instrumental in challenging the construction of the two plants in Iowa will lead a discussion following the film.  Mike Carberry, Sierra Club, will be joined by Carrie LeSeur, founder and Executive Director of Plains Justice, to talk about what is being done and what Iowans can do to stop construction of the coal-fired power plants.   Plains Justice, a public interest law center, was founded in 2006 in part in response to the Waterloo, Iowa Coal Plant Proposal, which has now been withdrawn.        

[…] Sunday, January 18th at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., Room A at 3:00 PM.

The screening is free and open to the public.

Monday, January 19:

From Polk County Democrats:

From Vern Naffier

Come to the Pre-Inauguration Celebration

Friends:  Join me Monday night at 7 pm at the State Historical Building for an inspiring event celebrating Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Barack Obama’s inauguration, and the beginning of an era of peace, reconciliation, and social justice throughout the world. See announcement below.


Rebirthing King – Rebirthing America

A pre-inauguration celebration

State Historical Building

600 East Locust

Des Moines

January 19, 2009

7-8 pm

Come join the effort to reclaim the dream of America free from racism, militarism, and materialism. Come join the candlelight march for Martin’s memory and Barack’s beginning.

The Iowa Obama Presidential Inauguration Committee invites you to bring items for the DMARC Food Pantry.

Sponsored by the King Birthday Celebration Planning Committee

Tuesday, January 20:

George W. Bush’s presidency will finally end as Barack Obama takes the oath of office. What are you doing to celebrate? There must be many parties going on all over this state.

Urban Dreams Presents

Brown, Black & The Blues People’s Ball

Celebrating the Inauguration of

President Barack Obama

Together through the diversity of our community

Jnauary 20, 2009

8:00 PM until…

Hotel Fort Des Moines

1000 Walnut Street

Des Moines, IA  50309

$25 / person

Dress to Impress

Featuring Musica Latina, Soul and the Blues

A nonpartisan event open to the whole community

for more information please call 515-288-4742

The Brown, Black & The Blues People’s Ball is brought to you by

Project V.O.T.E. (Voting Opportunities Through Education).

PLease call Hotel Fort Des Moines at 515-243-1181 if interested in room reservations.

From 1000 Friends of Iowa:

There will be a Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Public Input Meeting in the DMAMPO Meeting Room, Merle Hay Center, 6200 Aurora Avenue, Suite 300W, Urbandale, IA. Click here for more details about what’s on the agenda and why you should care.

Friday, January 23:

For bicycling advocates and enthusiasts:

Iowa Bicycle Summit

January 23-24, Des Moines

Iowa Bicycle Summit will be held in Des Moines at the Holiday Inn, Downtown, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday’s session features Steve Durrant from Portland, Oregon, a registered landscape architect and planner with over 30 years experience helping communities become better places to live. A Friday Bike Night fundraiser will feature a presentation by mountain-biking legend Gary Fisher at a dinner and silent auction. Saturday is geared for grassroots bicyclists who want to better their communities. Sessions include Safe Routes to Schools, Bike to Work Week, legislative issues and more. Primary sponsors are the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. Participation is limited. Find out more or register at the Iowa Bicycle Summit webpage, http://www.iowabicyclecoalitio…

From the Iowa Environmental Council newsletter:

Winter Solstice Workshop: No Child Left Inside

January 23-25, Honey Creek State Park

The Iowa Conservation Education Coalition’s annual Environmental Education Workshop, Winter Solstice, will be held on January 23-25, 2009.  The workshop title is No Child Left Inside.  Winter Solstice will be held at the Honey Creek State Park Resort on Lake Rathbun. This new resort features motel rooms, a restaurant, an indoor water park, and most important for ICEC, a wonderful conference center. Our keynote speakers include: Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder; Connie Mutel, author of The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa; and Jim Pease and Susan O’Brien author of Environmental Literacy in Iowa. For questions about the workshop, please contact Gail Barels at gail.barels@linncounty.org or Heather Niec at adminicec@hotmail.com.

Saturday, January 24:

For those who enjoy public art:

Design a Dragonfly on Ice at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory

January 24, West Lake Okoboji

Filmmaker Chad Branham will design this year’s Artslive’s People Project on Saturday, January 24, on the ice in Miller’s Bay, beginning at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. This ephemeral art project will line people up on the ice on West Lake Okoboji, in the shape of a giant 100 foot dragonfly. This design will take over 225 people to complete. Once everyone is in place the dragonfly will be photographed from an airplane by Judy Hemphill. Due to limited parking at Lakeside, participants are asked to gather at Peace Corner, at the corner of Highways 9 and 86, at 12:30 pm, and take a shuttle bus to the project site at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. People are encouraged to dress warmly and, if possible, in bright primary colors.  To sign up to participate, or for more information about participating in this year’s ArtsLive People’s Project, contact Jen Johnson at (712)332-6502 or jen@activeokoboji.org, or visit artslive.com.

Tuesday, January 27:

From Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement:

Jan. 27, 2009  

BIG Rally & Lobby Day

Mark your calendars and plan to be at our Rally & Lobby Day at the State Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 27. We need you there to show our legislators that thousands of Iowans will be holding them accountable this legislative session to issues like local control, clean elections, homeowner protections and the rights of all workers.

Decisions made at the Statehouse impact us every day. This is our chance to put our issues at the top of the legislative agenda. Join with us today – click here for more information and REGISTER TODAY!

Friday, January 30:

From Polk County Democrats:

The Ankeny Area Democrats and The Polk County Democrats Present An Inauguration Celebration Dinner At The Iowa State Historical Building

Friday, January 30, 2009

Catered by Baratta’s Restaurant

Social Hour begins at 6:00 PM

Dinner at 7:00 PM

Live music through the Musician’s Union

Tickets $25 per person

Tickets include chicken / pasta dinner and sides, soft drinks, coffee, iced tea or water

Semi-formal attire encouraged, but not required

Tickets available by calling Tamyra at 515-285-1800 or Mary Oliver at 515-964-1227

Email polkdems@gmail.com or Ankenyareadems@msn.com

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Events coming up this week

Lots happening this week, culminating in the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner featuring Al Gore in Des Moines on Saturday

Tuesday, September 30:

Today is the last day of the current FEC reporting period. Give money to good Democrats before midnight!

From the Obama campaign in Iowa:

Des Moines, Iowa – Today, at 2:45 PM CDT, Governor Chet Culver will respond to Senator John McCain’s attack on ethanol during his event in Des Moines and discuss why Senator McCain is wrong for Iowa’s economy. During Friday’s debate, and again today during a roundtable in Des Moines, Senator McCain expressed his strong opposition to ethanol subsidies. The details are:


2:45 PM CDT

Governor Chet Culver to Respond to Senator John McCain’s Attack on Ethanol and Discuss Why Senator McCain is Wrong for Iowa’s Economy

Obama Iowa Campaign for Change office

1408 Locust St.

Des Moines, Iowa  

Des Moines, Iowa – On Tuesday, September 30th, 2008, Iowa First Lady Mari Culver will hold roundtable discussions in Fort Dodge and Carroll to discuss John McCain’s radical health care plan and Barack Obama’s plan to fix America’s broken health care system.

“Affordable health care is one of the most important issues facing Iowa working families, and we are thrilled to have First Lady Culver talk about Barack Obama’s plan to fix our broken health care system,” said Jackie Norris, Iowa State Director for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.  “There is an enormous difference between the two candidates when it comes to health care.  Senator Obama has a detailed plan to cover every American and lower costs for every family by $2,500.  This is in stark contrast to Senator McCain, who will do nothing to reduce the number of uninsured.”

First Lady Culver will be talking about health care and other issues important in this election, as well as encouraging Obama supporters to vote early so they can volunteer on Election Day.

Early voting in Iowa has begun and the Obama campaign has set up a voter information hotline, 877 – IA08VOTE, for Iowans to call to get information on how they can vote. Iowans can also visit iowa.barackobama.com for more information.

The details of the events are:


10:30 AM

Roundtable Discussion with First Lady Mari Culver


900 Central Ave #10

(in the Trolley Station)

Fort Dodge, Iowa

1:30 PM

Roundtable Discussion with First Lady Mari Culver

Coffee World/Crossroads Bar and Grill

1012 N US Highway 71 (corner of Highways 30 and 71)

Carroll, Iowa

The Iowa Citizen Action Network is organizing another “listening post” event on health care:

Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN) is proud to take a lead role in the “Health

Care for America Now” campaign and we hope you will join us and all the coalition partners in Iowa to make our voices heard!

Health Care for America Now is all about raising this very important question in the minds of the public and in decision makers: Do we want a health care system where everyone has responsibility to ensure access for all Americans – individuals, employers, our communities, and our government?  Or do we want to continue with a system that says – “You’re all on your own to deal with insurance companies.”

We’ve been doing just that this summer, and we’re excited to bring this campaign to cities all around Iowa.  Take a look and see where you can join us.




Have you been struggling with your health insurance coverage?  Do you find yourself paying more for less coverage every year?  Have you been denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions?  Have you been dropped from your coverage and aren’t sure how to fight back?  Do you have a family member or neighbor who is struggling?

Here’s your chance to let your elected representatives know what you’re going through, and what you think they should do about it.

September 30th, 6:30-7:30

Cedar Rapids, IA



From the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation:

Please attend forums on

Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund

The Sustainable Funding Coalition, a diverse group of Iowa organizations (including INHF) that works for sustainable conservation funding, is sponsoring a series of candidate forums on the proposed Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.

So you can make your voice heard on this important issue, this e-mail provides background information on the forums, a list of forum dates & locations, and pre-registration instructions.

About the Fund: The proposed Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund would provide a permanent funding source to support efforts to improve and preserve Iowa’s water quality, soils, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

To create the fund, proposed legislation mandates that 3/8ths of a cent from state sales tax revenue will be appropriated for the Trust Fund the next time the Iowa legislature approves a sales tax increase. The Sustainable Funding Coalition hopes to pass Trust Fund legislation during Iowa’s 2009 legislative session.  NOTE: This bill does not raise taxes, nor does it give voters the ability to raise the sales tax-only the legislature can do that.

About the forums

Ten candidate forums scattered throughout the state provide a chance for citizens and legislators/candidates to discuss this legislation together. Please consider attending the forum nearest you to learn more about this proposal, show your legislators/candidates that Iowans care about conservation funding, and promote passing the needed legislation for this fund during Iowa’s 2009 legislative session.

How to pre-register & attend: Find the forum nearest you in the list below and then pre-register at http://conservation-candidate-… NOTE: Pre-registration is critical because individual events may be canceled if pre-registration numbers are low.

Schedule of Forums

Ames, 9/30/2008 @ 6:30 PM

Ames Public Library (515 Douglas Ave)

Fort Dodge, 10/1/2008 @ 7 PM

Iowa Central Community College (One Triton Circle)

Muscatine, 10/4/2008 @ 9AM

the Student Center at Muscatine Community College, (152 Colorado St)

Mason City, 10/6/2008 @ 6:30 PM

Mason City Library (225 Second St. SE)

Wednesday, October 1:

There’s a candidate forum on the sustainable funding initiative at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge at 7 pm (see above for details)

Thursday, October 2:

Gwen Ifill moderates the vice-presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, which will start at 8 pm central time. Pop some popcorn and enjoy the show!

Friday, October 3:

From One Iowa:

  Pappajohn Center

1200 Locust

Des Moines, IA 50309


Date:   10/3/2008 from 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm (Central Time)

Hosted By:   One Iowa

RSVP by:   October 3, 2008 at 5:30 pm (Central Time)

Join Us For The First Annual Sweet Equality

Join us for the First Annual Sweet Equality! Professional chefs, local celebrities, and businesses will come together to show off their skills in the name of Equality! To celebrate Iowa’s rich history of equality, you are invited to a fun-filled evening of dessert competition, wine tasting, friends and music!

Amateur Sweet Equality competitors include local celebrities such as First Lady Christie Vilsack, Tracy Levine, Christine Hensley, and a special treat from Meredith test kitchen.

Wine tasting from local Iowa Wineries and live entertainment, from local artists will round out the festivities.

The event costs $35. RSVP to Scott@oneiowa.org or call 515-288-4019 extension 207

Saturday, October 4:

The Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner will be held in Des Moines. Al Gore will be the featured speaker. Tickets are available at www.iowademocrats.org or by calling (515) 974-1691. You can also get tickets that do not include dinner.

There’s a candidate forum on the sustainable funding initiative in Muscatine at 9 am at the Student Center at Muscatine Community College, (152 Colorado St). See above for details.

Capital City Pride events will be held on October 4 and 5 in Des Moines. For details about the schedule and volunteer opportunities, go to www.oneiowa.org.

There will be a Prairie Seed Harvest at Marietta Sand Prairie State Preserve, near Albion in Marshall County, Oct 4, beginning at 1 p.m. All ages are welcome to help hand-harvest native prairie seeds on the preserve, to be planted on a recently-acquired addition.  Learn about prairie from your fellow volunteers, many of whom will be prairie experts. This is a casual day: drop in and stay as long as you like. For more details, contact the Marshall County Conservation Board at 641-752-5490.

Sunday, October 5:

Capital City Pride events continue in Des Moines.

From the Iowa Environmental Council’s calendar or events:

 Farm Crawl 2008

October 5, Central Iowa

Enjoy a leisurely autumn day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., “crawling” between six unique small-family farms in south-central Iowa – one hour south of DM Tour the farms, visit the animals, meet the farmers, sample the goodies, purchase locally grown products and have fun in the beautiful Iowa countryside. While at the farms, enter to win a basket of goodies assembled with wonderful items from each farm. Visit the Farm Crawl 2008 website at http://www.farmcrawl.com to learn more about the farms.  A map can be found at http://www.farmcrawl.com/maps….

Submitted by Matt Russell

* * * * * * * * * *

Bike Ride and Trail Celebration

Celebrate a new trail segment: Join us on Sunday, Oct. 5 for a bike ride and celebration of progress being made on the Ankeny-Woodward Trail. Riders should gather at the Ankeny trailhead at 11:30 a.m. The free, 12-mile ride (one way) begins in Ankeny at noon and ends at the Heart of Iowa trailhead in Slater.  There, at 2 p.m., riders and others can enjoy a program, entertainment, refreshments and door prizes. Riders should gather in at the Ankeny trailhead at 11:30 a.m. This ride covers part of 18 miles of newly paved trail between Ankeny and Madrid. If another $1 million can be raised in time, partners can complete the final four miles to Woodward (including a spectacular ½-mile bridge) by 2010. For details or directions, visit www.inhf.org.

Submitted by Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Tuesday, October 7:

From Becky Greenwald’s campaign:

Please join First Lady Mari Culver & Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (SD-at large) for a Women’s Reception to benefit Becky Greenwald, Democratic Candidate for Congress (IA-04)

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

5:30 PM Pre-Reception

6:00 PM General Reception

at the home of Toni Urban, 214 Foster Drive, Des Moines, IA

Contribution Levels:

Host:  $1,000  Sponsor:  $500    Friend:  $250    Supporter:  $100

(Host, Sponsor and Friend levels include admission to pre-reception and photo opportunity with Rep. Herseth-Sandlin)

General Admission: $30

To RSVP or for further information, please contact Eric Dillon at (515) 987-2800 or dillon@beckygreenwald.com.  

Join Whiterock Conservancy’s land stewardship crew in collecting prairie and savanna seeds for use in restoration projects. Learn to identify grassland plant species, learn their habitats, and assist in collecting the seeds for the future. Join the collection crew just east of Coon Rapids on: October 7 and October 12. Help collect today so that we may plant tomorrow. Contact WRC’s ecologist, Elizabeth Hill to sign up for prairie seed collection forays: elizabeth@whiterockconservancy.org.

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I'm so glad Iowa's first district is not competitive

because if it were I would have to cover Republican candidate Dave Hartsuch a lot more often. He’s the social conservative who beat longtime moderate incumbent Maggie Tinsman in the 2006 Republican primary for Iowa Senate district 41. His main campaign strategy against Congressman Bruce Braley seems to be to repeat right-wing talking points with no basis in fact.

However, I noticed in Sunday’s Des Moines Register that Hartsuch is staking out new ground by criticizing Braley’s support for bicycling:

Braley has joined the Congressional Bike Caucus, a group aimed at promoting safer roads, more bikeways, convenient bike parking and increased recognition of cycling. He is a freshman lawmaker representing Iowa’s 1st District, where bicycling has grown in popularity as a green method of transportation.

State Sen. David Hartsuch, a Bettendorf Republican who is opposing Braley’s bid for re-election in November, said he is not against bicycling. But Hartsuch has a different view on federal involvement in bicycling.

“I don’t think it’s a proper federal function to put money into bicycling,” Hartsuch said. “I think the federal government exists for national defense and the promoting of the general welfare. I think states are quite capable of building their own bicycle ways, and I don’t think the federal government should be having a national bicycle network. It’s not the same as a national highway or the interstate highway system. Bicycling is a rather local thing.”

Braley recently told reporters in Des Moines that one of his priorities is expanding the availability and quality of Iowa’s more than 1,000 miles of multipurpose recreational trails.

He also wants to restore the 52-mile Cedar Valley Nature Trail in northeast Iowa, which sustained millions of dollars in flood damage.

Hartsuch must be joking. Does he have any idea how many local road projects would never get built without federal funding? The proposed northeast Polk County beltway is a perfect example of a road that would benefit only a small number of central Iowa residents and property owners, but would require hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

Fortunately, Braley is under no threat whatsoever. Iowa’s first district has a partisan index of D+4, based on how it voted in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. But Democrats have substantially increased their voter registration edge in IA-01 since then. Also, Barack Obama’s coattails are likely to help Braley in his eastern Iowa.

Furthermore, Braley had $419,222 cash on hand as of June 30, while Hartsuch had raised $16,661 for his Congressional bid and had $12,664 cash on hand.

So, I don’t plan to write much about the Braley-Hartsuch race this fall. But don’t let that discourage Bleeding Heartland readers from posting a diary here if there is any interesting news from the first district campaign.

Getting back to transportation policy, I learned from this Register article that Congressman Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s second district and Congressman Leonard Boswell of Iowa’s third district are also in the Congressional Bike Caucus. Good for them.

Since Boswell sits on the House Transportation Committee (like Braley), I hope we can count on him to support new priorities in the highway bill due to be considered by Congress in 2009. I would also like to see Boswell and Braley join Loebsack in backing efforts to make transportation policy part of any forthcoming legislation on global warming.

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Events coming up this week

Please put up a comment if you know of an event I’ve missed, or e-mail me to let me know about upcoming events: desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com.

A bunch of meetups and other events are listed on William Meyers’ website (http://www.meyersforhouse.com/home.html), but I couldn’t find details about the time or location for any of those.

I listed the central Iowa events for Bike to Work week, but there are also events taking place in Iowa City and the Quad Cities. Go here to find a link to those event schedules:


Monday, May 12:

Bike with Congressman Leonard Boswell, 7:45 a.m., 39th and Grand Avenue, ride to 300 E. Locust in Des Moines. Federal, state, and city policy makers will ride to kick off the work week. The number of riders demonstrates to them how many of us are watching and listening and demanding safer bicycle facilities.

Becky Greenwald, a Democratic candidate in the IA-04 primary, will be in Decorah from 7-8 p.m. at the Oaks Restaurant to meet and talk with Democratic activists in Winneshiek County.

Tuesday, May 13:

Bike Kollective Breakfast, 6:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. • 617 Grand Avenue in Des Moines. Stop down, grab a bite and check out the new space called the Des Moines Bike Kollective (while supplies last).

The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Annual Award Dinner, Reception at 6 pm, Dinner at 7 pm, Hotel Fort Des Moines, 1000 Walnut Street, Des Moines. The Keynote Speaker will be The Right Reverend Jane Holmes Dixon, retired Episcopal Bishop of Washington; second woman in the United States to be elevated to the office of Bishop. The Interfaith Award will be presented to Rekha Basu. The Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus will perform. Individual reservations are $50. Although reservations for this event were due by May 8, you may be able to squeeze in. For more information, email tiaiowa@dwx.com or call (515) 279-8715.

One Iowa “Happy Hour/Coffee House” at Ritual Cafe, 13th St. between Grand and Locust in downtown Des Moines, 5 pm to 6:45 pm. This is a time to meet like-minded friends and relax in a welcoming atmosphere. If you have never attended, the Happy Hour crowd will put you right at ease. If you are a regular or have attended in the past, we want you to come see how we have grown! On Tuesday, One Iowa has the honor to host Mathew Skuya, one of One Iowa’s Regional Organizers at Ritual; he will talk about the all of the Pride events happening around Des Moines and throughout Iowa in June, and discuss how you can become more involved.  Matt’s presentation will start at 5:30pm. Ritual Cafe is an LGBT-operated coffee shop and cafe offering “really great coffee and food” in an open and affirming place.

State Representative District 16 Forum and local Democratic candidates, 7 pm at the Decorah City Hall, Council Chambers. For further info contact Lyle Otte, 563-382-3137

House party for Jerry Sullivan, candidate in House district 59, at the home of Kerry Bowen in Windsor Heights, starting at 6:30 pm. Call 274-1877 to RSVP and get address details.

Wednesday, May 14:

This is the last day of the current reporting period for candidates seeking state offices in Iowa. Donate to one or more Democrats facing a tough House or Senate race!

“Helmet Hair Specials” are available at participating businesses all over the state as part of Bike to Work Week. Coffee shops all over the metro are offering those who bike and shop great deals. Show your support, because these businesses support us! After the jump I’ve put the full list of Des Moines-area businesses offering discounts to bicyclists on Wednesday.

Thursday, May 15:

If you need maintenance done on your bicycle, this is the day to take it to a participating bike shop. Many of them are offering deals on maintenance items as well as maintenance classes on this day. Call your local bike shops for details.

Friday, May 16:

It’s the official Bike to Work Day. Go to biketowork.bikeiowa.com for a list of free breakfasts, showers and staging locations. Staging locations are for camaraderie, commuting with friends, and creating a group of cyclists for visibility. Today one lucky registered rider will win the grand CASH prize! Awards will also be announced for the top Two Bicycle Clubs and Employers with the most registered riders.

“Potluck” Commuter breakfast in Ames, 6:15 a.m. – 8:00 a.m., Skunk River Cycles. Coffee, juice, and some bagels/bakery goods will be provided. Free to bring something to share with others that stop in. While supplies last.

Afterwork drop-in following Bike to Work day, 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the Stomping Grounds in Ames (303 Welch Avenue in Campustown). Stop and share stories of the day and put your name in the drawing for prizes.

Crossroads Luncheon organized by The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa.The Crossroads speaker is Rev. Dr. Jim Ryan, Executive Director of Colorado Council of Churches (formerly Executive Director of Ecumenical Ministries of Iowa & senior minister at First Christian Church, Des Moines). The concept of his new book Doing Justice in a Purple Congregation and of the conversation at Crossroads is there really are no red or blue congregations but a mixture (making purple).  Yet, how do purple congregations really “do” social justice to create change?  It is a very relevant conversation in these times and at the intersection of religion and politics.  Reservations are due by noon this Tuesday, May 13. For more information, email tiaiowa@dwx.com or call (515) 279-8715.

Handlebar Happy Hour celebrating Bike to Work week starts at 5 pm at the El Bait Shop, 200 SW 2nd St, Des Moines. Ed Fallon will ride his bike down to the event and play his accordian.

Saturday, May 17:

Pancake breakfast for Windsor Heights Firefighters, 8 am to 1 pm at the Windsor Heights City Hall (a block south of University on 66th St.). Windsor Heights Mayor Jerry Sullivan, candidate for House district 59, will be there. It’s a fun event for families–kids can see and even touch a real fire truck! $5 per person or $10 per family.

The Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club is having a fundraiser for its Political Action Committee at the Des Moines Botanical Center, 909 Robert D Ray Dr., May 17, 2008 from 3-5 PM. Refreshments will be served. The cost is $50. A presentation by Ty Smeades, nature photographer, called “Things Worth Saving” combines, wildflowers, wildlife, and Iowa scenes, into a 17 minute show set to music. Ty says, “I truly went the quality route with this show”. Contact Debbie Neustadt at debbieneu AT earthlink.net if you plan to attend.

Sunday, May 18:

Fourth Congressional District Democratic candidate Forum:

1:00-2:00 p.m. Knights of Columbus Hall, Waukon

2:30-4:00 p.m. at The Oaks Steakhouse, Highway 9 in Decorah

5:00-6:00 p.m. at Mabe’s Pizza, Cresco

For further info contact Barb Ettleson 563-382-1469

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Bike to Work week starts May 10

Check out Bike Iowa’s page on Bike to Work week:


There’s a ton of information there about special events, promotions, benefits of cycling, and lots of other topics.

I am not working outside the home now, but if you or your employer are participating in Bike to Work week, please put up a diary to let us know how it goes!

I noticed that on the morning of Monday, May 12, Congressman Leonard Boswell is organizing a bike ride to his office in downtown Des Moines. Good for him. May I suggest that he become a co-sponsor of the Safe and Complete Streets bill that Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) just introduced in the House of Representatives:

The bill would make sure that roads built and improved with federal funds safely serve everyone using the roadway-including pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders, as well as those with disabilities.

“Once again, gas prices have hit record highs this week. As American families continue to feel the pain at the pump due to the skyrocketing costs of gasoline, they are driving less and less,” said Rep. Matsui. “By diversifying our roadways, we can provide real alternatives to travel by car.”

Boswell sits on the Transportation Committee and could help move this bill along.

Tom Harkin and Thomas Carper (D-DE) have already introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

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If you don't have plans for this weekend

You might want to head to Cedar Rapids for the Iowa Network for Community Agriculture’s 13th annual local foods conference on Friday and Saturday. Click the link for more details about the event.

Alternatively, if you like being out in the freezing cold, you could ride your bike from Perry to Rippey on Saturday. Click the link for info on events planned in both communities, or check out the websites for Bike Iowa and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

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