With a number of trail projects in the works in southwest Iowa, Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development of Oakland has started a program to promote bicycling safety.
The Wellmark Foundation recently awarded the nonprofit organization a $25,000 matching grant for the new bicycle safety program, according to Golden Hills. The project will focus on bicycle education for both cyclists and drivers in Pottawattamie, Mills, Harrison, Fremont, Montgomery, Page and Shelby Counties.
“There’s a lot of growing interest in biking. New trails are being built and planned in the area,” said Lance Brisbois, project coordinator with Golden Hills. “We saw a need for the education aspect. Especially for people that want to ride on streets and roads, for places where trails aren’t available.”
Among the projects in the area is a trail connecting Council Bluffs to Underwood and Neola, along with efforts starting in Glenwood that will continue throughout Mills County.
One that will feature a number of shared roadways — with cyclists and drivers on the same route — is the proposed Lewis and Clark Today Route. The Frontier Iowa Trails Network is working on the designation of the trail, which will span from Woodbury County in the north and head southward to Fremont County.
“The combination of education and cooperation between all users of streets and roadways will allow for increased safe use of bicycles, which has direct positive health, environmental and economic effects,” Golden Hills said in a release.
The organization touted economic gains that come with improved accessibility to bicycling. They noted it’s important for both cyclists and drivers to know the rules of the road and how to interact with one another.
“The idea is to educate both people who ride bikes and people driving on the road. So that everyone can stay safe,” Brisbois said.
Golden Hills staff will host educational presentations for beginning drivers at driver education classes, as well as through school classrooms, bike rodeos and other programs encouraging students to bike to school, according to the release. The project will also educate bicyclists about defensive cycling, taking precautions such as wearing brightly-colored clothing, helmets, reflectors, lights, using mirrors and hand signals and obeying traffic signals and laws.
The Wellmark Foundation grant requires a $25,000 match, which Brisbois said Golden Hills is contributing to, along with local trail groups and cities providing in-kind contributions to reach the $25,000 total.
For more information on the project, go to
“We just hope that it helps encourage people to get out on their bikes and feel safe, comfortable and confident,” Brisbois said.