The Challenge of Biking in a Car-Dependent Community

by Renee Tyler, City of Dubuque Transportation Services


Dubuque is a community rich in culture, located in the Driftless region of the Midwest.  Unlike many areas of Iowa, our city is hilly, and some of our streets are narrow, leaving us with very few bike paths and lanes to encourage the use of bikes as an alternate option for travel throughout the city. As the Director of Transportation for the City of Dubuque, I grapple daily with the challenge of promoting bike riding as more than just a pastime in the world of transportation management.

So what can we do to turn the concept of walkable communities, high-quality bike lanes, and a strong public transportation system from a host of pipe dreams into attainable goals that will make our region more sustainable, healthier, and more equitable?

Let’s look at some fun options that will incentivize people to ride bikes.  Beginning with organizing a walk audit, this audit allows bike enthusiasts to band together to assess street conditions.  Your audit can assist in identifying bike lanes and areas that are most suitable to build biking routes throughout the city.

Engage your council members, and invite them out to meet with you.  Have a plan of action that is workable.

Encourage your employer to use incentives to get people to bike to work. These incentives can include free lunch, monetary stipends, gym memberships, etc.  Don’t forget to ask for bike racks at your place of employment to secure your bikes.

From the City side, I encourage you to participate in Bike to Work Week.  This is the week that you can ride to work, and you have the opportunity to ride the bus back to your neighborhood for free.  Your bike will ride safely on the bike rack affixed to the front of the bus. Participation in one bike to work day can garner enough support for a bike to work week, month, or when weather permits year-round.  Who knows? You might just like the concept of riding your bike and riding the bus!

Our community is a great community.  We are constantly looking for ways to improve and maintain the wonderful quality of life that is offered here.  In order for me to do my part in supporting this initiative, I need your help, your input, and your support.  Please share your ideas and suggestions with me.  My contact information is: and my office number is 563.589.4341.

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