Downtown Des Moines is getting its summer face lift. The City of Des Moines is calling it the “Complete Streets Conversion.” “The goal of the project is to provide better access for all users (pedestrians, transit uses, bicyclists, and vehicles) while also increasing safety for everyone,” according to the city’s project page .
Grand Avenue seems to be the showcase and pilot for this new city planning strategy. Phase one of the project, the eastern section of Grand, has already been completed. It features separated bike lanes and raised public transit stops, and still leaves room for parking. Phase two, from 2nd Ave. to Robert D Ray, is expected to be finished this fall.
Des Moines still ranks very low in bike friendliness. The League of American Cyclists gave Des Moines a bronze rating, its lowest honor. Cities like Portland, OR and Minneapolis, MN consistently get highest marks.
The benefits of a human powered commuting city are many, according to Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer reviewed journal. They performed a complex simulation case study on Auckland, New Zealand’s fastest growing city, similar to Des Moines. They found that roughly every dollar spent on improving bike infrastructure yielded at least 10 dollars back in benefits. These benefits included but were not limited to, reduced costs of healthcare and less money spent on automobiles.
This is a pilot program, so expansion and further development depend largely on the success or failure of Grand Ave. The city is looking for feedback on this project to help with future plans. If you have comments please see the project page for contact information.