Community Profile: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Recently we caught up with Derek Stepanek of Northtowne Cycling and Fitness to discuss where they see the opportunity in adding cycling infrastructure to their community.

1) How has Cedar Rapids changed with respect to cycling? What type of role has Northtowne played?

Nearly a decade ago our city suffered a major flood event. In its rebuilding efforts, the City and County have chosen to invest in developing a healthier and more bikeable/walkable community, which includes growing our cycling infrastructure. Cycling advocates in key roles of City Traffic Engineering and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (which allocates federal gas tax money spending in the area) have helped educate policy makers on the benefits of these efforts in addition to increasing awareness and spending in these areas.

Northtowne team members have served passionately and regularly on all local boards, committees, and organizations to help bolster their efforts with support from the cycling community.

Outdoor bike parking racks outside Mount Mercy University
Outdoor bike parking racks outside Mount Mercy University.

2) Do you have any tips for how to be more involved in local advocacy?

  • Be active and be visible.

  • Serve on local cycling group boards and committees.

  • Know your Mayor and City Council Members.

  • Attend public input meetings.

  • As part of your marketing strategy, make it a priority to support as many cycling events as you can.

  • Be the face and voice of cycling in your community, and use your business as a tool to advance the health of your community in any way you can, because it will come back to you many times over.

  • Take a long-term approach and be patient and willing to make these investments in time, effort and dollars now, to grow cycling in the future.

More branded bike parking can be found in the Uptown District of Cedar Rapids
More branded bike parking can be found in the Uptown District of Cedar Rapids.

3) Any recent projects you would like to share? What steps were involved?

Last year, the Cedar Rapids Downtown District decided to make a substantial investment in bike parking. Based on groundwork laid, other bike parking sales, and relationships built over many years, Northtowne and Saris were awarded the business and sourced a large batch of branded stadium racks for the Downtown District. The purchase of another batch to complete the implementation plan is also pending for later this year.

The anchor and premier stop in the rebuilt Cedar Rapids downtown area is an attraction called Newbo City Market. Newbo has 24 Saris bike parking docks installed surrounding the outdoor market yard. This year, Northtowne is donating and installing a Bike Fixation Deluxe Work Stand with bike pump and wheel chock as part of Newbo’s market yard rejuvenation campaign. This will be centered in the outdoor courtyard to welcome and assist cyclists visiting Newbo and reinforce the commitment to being a bike-friendly community.

Family visiting the Newbo Market in Cedar Rapids on a beautiful sunny 75-degree day
Family visiting the Newbo Market in Cedar Rapids on a beautiful sunny 75-degree day.

4) Why did you choose Saris products?

We love offering Saris bike parking products as a Midwest-based, made in the USA product. Orders and manufacturing are accomplished on time and budget, and if there’s a problem, they are a great partner in making it right and taking care of the customer.

An eBike finds a resting spot in downtown Cedar Rapids
An eBike finds a resting spot in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Thank you, Derek! We appreciate your dedication to your community and for choosing Saris Parking. Cheers to building a safe cycling community, and we can’t wait to see your soon-to-be-installed branded Bike Fixation Deluxe tool station!