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A Tale of Two Travels: Expanding Sprawl vs. Complete Streets

PHOTO: Waterloo is one of three cities in the state being lauded for making development decisions with all modes of transit in mind, including pedestrians and bicyclists. Photo credit: David Wilson
PHOTO: Waterloo is one of three cities in the state being lauded for making development decisions with all modes of transit in mind, including pedestrians and bicyclists. Photo credit: David Wilson
April 10, 2014

WATERLOO, Iowa – It's a tale of two travels in Iowa, as some communities have made the list of cities dealing with the most sprawl, while others are being honored for their work on transportation that includes options for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Those being recognized include Cedar Falls, Muscatine and Waterloo, which were all among the national leaders in Complete Streets policies in 2013.

"As we rebuild streets or build new streets, we are very cognizant of the fact that we are trying to expand the walkability and bikeability of our streets,” says Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark.

“Putting in sidewalks where there are none. Putting in bike trails where there are none as we can afford to."

Meanwhile, both Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs are listed in the latest study on the areas of the U.S. with the most sprawl, linked to more traffic fatalities, longer commute times and less physical activity.

Clark says the driving force behind Waterloo's adoption of a Complete Streets policy is its involvement in the Blue Zones Project, which is part of Iowa's initiative to become the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.

"I'm sitting in my window right now and there's a fellow bicycling down and he's on the street,” Clark says. “We're just trying to accept that. It's becoming more popular and people are becoming more health conscious, and we want to accommodate that."


John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA