The city of Ames is pushing to have its bike paths connected to the High Trestle Trail and the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail.
Three different trail connections were proposed at the Ames City Council meeting on Sept. 20: the southwest corner of Ames, the southeast corner of Ames and the north corner of Ames.
Current funding has not yet been identified, but paving the trails would cost $400,000 per mile, Mike Cox, director of the Story County Conservation Board, said at the Sept. 20 meeting.
Ames consists of 52.46 miles of trails, but additions are expected. The 52.46 miles include trails and paths located on the side of the road, like the ones on 16th Street.
The city has 48.76 miles of shared-use paths that run alongside roads, and 3.7 miles of gravel paths.
"The [Ames] City Council had set aside some money to upgrade paths," said Joshua Thompson, parks and facilities superintendent.
No money is currently set aside to completely connect the trails.
"Ames is working with the Story County Conservation Center to figure what needs to happen to connect to central Iowa trails," Thompson said.
Work is being done in Ames specifically to find out whether the trails can be connected.
The Ames City Council asked staff about connection to the central Iowa trail system and what it would need to facilitate it, Thompson said.
Ames residents are excited about the possible expansion of the bike trails.
"If you build it, they will come," said Trevin Ward, a member of the Ames Bicycle Coalition.
Bike paths allow for an alternative means for Ames residents to use. Madrid, home of the scenic High Trestle Trail bridge, has restaurants on its trails.
"If we build a good, high-quality, safe and protected infrastructure, it encourages people to get out and bike," Ward said.
During the commute hours, there can be as many people riding bikes as there are people driving.
“For every person that you make comfortable to get outside their car and walk, bike or take the bus, that’s one fewer person on the road,” Ward said. “That means even the people who aren’t riding bikes have a benefit for building this infrastructure.”
Ames currently has bike paths that connect Iowa State and several of its apartment complexes.
“I like being outside, so that’s why I like to bike, but also Ames is small enough that you can bike around easily,” said Conrad Brendel, graduate student in agricultural and biosystems engineering and the mountain bike coordinator for the Cycling Club at Iowa State.
Several Iowa State students bike to school because of the convenience.
“Across campus, biking is nice,” Brendel said.
Because it costs $400,000 a mile to pave a trail, not every trail in Ames is paved. For cyclists, this isn’t a problem, but it can create issues for others.
“Mountain bike gravel roads are fine, but on a road bike, I think I’d prefer paved trails,” Brendel said. “The gravel gets all slippery.”
Bike paths are located throughout Ames and offer a simple transportation method for people who don't own cars or don’t live on CyRide routes.
All bicycles on the Iowa State campus are supposed to be registered. Students who need to register their bikes can do so at the Armory in room 27 or 55.