To become a more bike friendly city, Des Moines, Iowa, has to start somewhere. That starting point was the painting of shared-lane street markings and creation of a “contraflow” bike lane – the only one in Iowa – in downtown Des Moines in late August.

Carl Voss of the Des Moines Bicycle Collective told the Des Moines Register he welcomes the new marked bike lanes. But he said Des Moines is “five to seven years behind” other cities. “While we are celebrating bike lanes here, some progressive cities are
already on to the next step for bike accommodations,” 
Voss said.

Nevertheless, the work increases the miles of on-street bike accommodations in the city to 17 miles, or 10 percent of the goal of 170 miles as stated in the "Des Moines Bike and Trails Master Plan." A federal air quality grant paid for $300,000 of the $360,000 of the street project, according to the Register.

The hope is bike lanes and shared lanes will increase the number of people who commute by bike. In the latest Census survey, only a third of 1 percent of Des Moines commuters use bicycles, while 4 percent of Minneapolis commuters do.

Voss cited studies that indicate female riders feel safer with bike lanes. Women make up only a third of riders in Des Moines, he said.