When it comes to cycling, I’ll pretty much ride anywhere.    I like pavement and I like gravel.  Trails rock.  So do city streets.   I love riding downtown by any available route.  I usually don’t mind sharing my space with cars.  As a general rule, most motorists are good, fair and decent.  There are, of course, exceptions to the general rule.

That brings me to my point.  A lot of people I engage as a cycling evangelist tell me that they won’t ride unless they have side paths and protected bike lanes just like their brethren in der Nederlanden.  Never mind that this isn’t exactly correct.  Plenty of Dutch boys and girls ride in traffic. Sexy as it is, there’s only one Hovenring in the whole country.

Since Jan and I arrived here on the western fringe of Iowa’s largest metro area  early last month I’ve come to appreciate that this is the epicenter of the side path movement in the United States.  Nowhere else I’ve ever cycled comes close.   I’m not talking one or two paths.  They’re everywhere and they connect everything.  They’re well thought out.    They tunnel under or fly over major roads.  They’re smooth and safe.   They make it easy to get everywhere on a bike.

Here are two examples of what I’m talking about.

Des Moines’ upscale mall, Jordan Creek Town Center, is totally accessible by bicycle. At the intersection just NW of the mall,  side paths tunnel under both Jordan Creek and EP True Parkways and deposit cyclists at the mall’s main entrance.

The sidepath navigates the highway intersection with no road crossings. It tunnels under both ramps and crosses the main lanes in a protected format.

So even though I currently live in deep suburbia, I can ride everywhere in metro Des Moines or (if I head the other way) out into the countryside and I seldom, if ever, have to share my space with a car.  When I do, motorists are among the most generally considerate.  So what does it look like?  I’m glad you asked.  Here you go…