By Katie Dahlstrom Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Several hundred people access Clinton by using a bicycle, but with more cyclist-friendly amenities some feel that number could reach into the thousands.
The city of Clinton and Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau officials are considering ways to make the city more bike friendly, such as creating a map of bicycle trails throughout the city.
River Bend Bike Club President Mary Moore estimated there are several hundred cyclists in Clinton, but there could be more if the city would close the gap of bike-friendliness that separates Clinton from other cities.
“Going from somewhere that is very bike friendly to somewhere that is not as bike friendly is kind of a shock,” Moore said .”This attracts young people. This attracts business. It has to be the city leaders connecting those dots.”
According to the Iowa Bicycle Coalition’s report on the economic and health benefits of cycling, recreational cyclists have a $364.8 million annual direct and indirect economic impact on the state.
To tap into some of those dollars, not to mention the numerous health benefits biking boasts, city leaders are talking about creating a bike trail map that could cater to different types of cyclists, such as families, avid riders and people looking to tour historic parts of the community.
“It’s something that appeals to all kinds of people and it’s also really on trend. There are lots of communities embracing it,” CVB Director Carrie Donaire said. “If there are several hundred bikers around the area we could easily attract several thousand.”
But to leverage that many visitors by way of bike, the city would need more than just a map of where the trails are, Donaire asserted. It would require placing the maps online and making them interactive or tying the maps to different events, restaurants and businesses in Clinton.
“That way, people traveling to Clinton from Illinois or the Quad-Cities could see what we have going on. For visitors you kind of need to create the itinerary,” Donaire said.
While many groups travel through the city on bikes, the city could make travels easier for pedal-pushing sightseers. Moore suggested as officials look at creating a map they should also incorporate information on how to travel to Clinton from outside of town or how to connect to the Illinois trails. She agreed it should direct bikers to places where they can spend money.
“We need signage of what is in the different parts. Where do you go to restaurants? Where do you go to coffee shops? There’s no real businesses other than Candlelight and the marina along the trail where people could stop at,” Moore said.
A bicycle master plan also would help immensely, Moore said. The master plan would go beyond detailing what trails are open in the city, but where the city would place bike racks and how it intends to make Clinton bicycle friendly.
While the map and a bicycle master plan are not at the top of the city’s priority list, a number of projects that will benefit cyclists soon will surface.
The new Lyons streetscape will include a bike lane and the city is set to create the final leg of the Mississippi River Trail that will connect it from where it stops at 11th Avenue South and Fourth Street to the Riverview Drive portion of the trail.
City officials are also trying to reactivate the Shared Use Trails Committee.
City Engineer Jason Craft said there are some roads in the community with widths that would accommodate a bike lane if that’s a direction city leaders wanted to take.
“If the community is serious about cycling and providing those types of opportunities, there’s a lot of roads in town we can restripe. It’s pretty cheap to add a bike lane if that’s something the council wants to do,” he said.