The 9 Best Resources for Biking in the City

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The 9 Best Resources for Biking in the City

This article is the second in a series of guest posts leading up to #CarLessWeek from July 13-17, 2015.  It is full of ideas for anyone frustrated with a slow, stop-and-go commute every day… or just wanting to lessen their impact while increasing their happiness.  Specific resources are listed for residents of Greater Des Moines, but similar resources are available in most cities for those willing to ask.  Thanks to Jeremy Lewis, Executive Director of the Des Moines Bicycle Collective for contributing this article and for changing Greater Des Moines two wheels at a time!


With over 600 miles of multi-use trails within 18 communities ranging from small towns to rapidly growing suburbs, the Greater Des Moines area in Iowa is a great place to do less with a car and more with a bike.

“I moved back to Des Moines last summer, and in February got into a minor car accident.  Instead of spending a chunk of money for repairs, I took the opportunity to go car-less.  It definitely took some planning to understand where I was going and the safest routes to get there, but surprisingly I found it very easy.  Except during this recent flood when the bike paths were under water, I could get anywhere I wanted with trails, bike lanes, and sidewalks – often just as fast or faster.  For instance, my gym is seven miles away, but with stop lights and traffic I actually arrive at the same time taking the bicycle trails.  I would encourage anyone that, with a little research, safety equipment, and the right mindset they could have less stress, more money, and better health by resting their car.  I even bike in the wintertime.”

~ Robert John Ford

Here are some practical tools to help you go #CarLess locally this summer:

Des Moines Bicycle Collective

Visit Des Moines only “do-it-together” community bike shop. There’s always a wide selection of restored bicycles available for sale at affordable rates. You can also become a member and have full access to all the tools, equipment, and experts needed to keep your bike in its best shape.  There is nothing like getting help.  Eventually, you’ll learn to service your own bike, and be able to help out a fellow cyclist in need.  Learn more.

DSM Bike Collective 2

Des Moines BCycle

Bike sharing has come to Des Moines and people dig it! There are 10 stations and 67 bikes strategically located throughout the urban core, which make it possible to get anywhere on two wheels.  These cruisers are the perfect afternoon break from work, or relaxing and beautiful first date downtown.  Learn more.


This is your one-stop source for everything bike-related, anywhere in Iowa. Check out the online community calendar, where you’ll find the low-down on organized community bike rides happening every day of the riding season.  The cycling community is many things, and boring is not one of them!  There is something for everyone, of all skill levels and social inclinations.  Have a drink.  Wear a costume.  Meet your people.  Learn more.





Bike Maintenance Classes

Every month, the Des Moines Bicycle Collective hosts community bike maintenance and repair classes, with two levels to choose from: Intro to Bike Maintenance or Intermediate Bike Mechanics. Learn the basics of bike cleaning, roadside repair, and changing a tire, or take it to the next level with more advanced training.  Learn more.

Bike Maintenance

Des Moines Area Rapid Transit (DART)

Every bus in our metro-area transportation system is equipped with free and easy-to-use bike racks. They get used, too: 50,000 times last year.  If you have a long trek, you can take the bus 90% of the way and then hop off and pedal to the finish line!  Combine walking, busing, and biking all in one journey.  Your body will thank you.  Learn more.

DART bike rack

2015 Regional Trail Map

Luckily, our regional trail system keeps growing, and there are new connections every year, like the Chichaqua Valley Trail that opened in April this year. Keep the pocket-size folding 2015 Regional Trail Map handy for the latest on every multi-use trail in our area.  Pick one up at the Des Moines Bicycle Collective at 506 E. 6th Street in the East Village.










Bike Valet

You can ride your bike with ease, skip the hassle of car parking, and keep your bike in good hands, when you use the free bike valet at the Downtown Farmers’ Market, the 80/35 Music Festival, the IMT Des Moines Marathon, Ingersoll Live, the Hinterland Music Festival, Iowa Cubs Sunday home games, and many more community events happening all season long.

Bike Valet

Google Maps

Google Maps can help you identify bike trails and bike friendly streets when planning routes. Under the “Getting Around” section, choose “Bicycling” and it will show the routes in green. Another handy feature of Google Maps is that it will show you the elevation changes for the route you select, so you can choose the less hilly one (if it exists).  Try it out.

Biking Legend

Iowa by Trail App

This free iOS or Android app from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation provides an interactive map for all 1,800 miles of trails statewide. It allows users to: geo-locate their position and find the closest trail; find points of interest along the way, like local restaurants, museums, and natural resource information, connect with friends and followers, and keep track of distance, weather, news and events.  Learn more.




  • How about you?
  • Know some other great tips?

Share them by joining the Facebook event for #CarLessWeek July 13-17, 2015 today.


Jeremy Lewis

Happy biking,

Jeremy Lewis, Executive Director
Des Moines Bicycle Collective
Changing Greater Des Moines two wheels at a time




Adam Hammes is the executive director of the Iowa Sustainable Business Forum, a consultant, author, and motivational speaker. He specializes in helping businesses and sustainability professionals with environmental and social performance.

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