Bicycle statistics for Iowa City area

July 7, 2009

By Gregg Hennigan

IOWA CITY – Curious how various intersections in Iowa City, Coralville and University Heights rank in terms of bicycle usage?

A memo released Tuesday by the Johnson County Council of Governments – a countywide planning organization more commonly referred to by its acronym, JCCOG – provides an interesting angle on this.

Using traffic counts, it ranks 20 intersections by the percentage of bicycle usage compared with total vehicle usage.

Not surprisingly, intersections near University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and other parts of the UI campus occupy many of the top spots.

The full memo is at the bottom of this post. Unless I’m missing something, the math on the top intersection isn’t right, but the rest appear to be correct. Let me know if you find any errors. Also, the memo suggests only certain intersections were observed.

JCCOG is leading the effort to get area communities designated Bicycle Friendly Communities by the League of American Bicyclists, which I’ve written about before.

A JCCOG board is to discuss its “Metro Bicycle Master Plan” at a meeting July 14.  

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Coralville fish store in the NY Times

July 6, 2009

IOWA CITY – On the Fourth of July, the New York Times op-ed page had a piece on a tropical fish store in Coralville devastated by last year’s flood.

Now, the store has reopened in a new location, thanks to a lot of help from people in the community and beyond. One has to think that the perseverance of store owner Ed Fisher was a key factor, too.

Author and Iowa Writers’ Workshop Director Lan Samantha Chang wrote the story. To read it, click here.

Cities expect to discuss franchise fees

June 25, 2009

By Gregg Hennigan

IOWA CITY – Some Iowa City Council members have referred to it as a “little gift” from the state.

They’re talking about the new state law that allows cities to impose franchise fees of up to 5 percent on natural gas and electric service.

While it’s doubtful many utility customers will speak of it as warmly, the appeal to city officials is that the fees are a potential new revenue source other than property taxes, upon which city budgets are heavily reliant.

How common the fees will be is not yet know.

The Iowa City Council will discuss it further at a work session Monday. Officials in Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Marion and North Liberty said they had not yet talked about the fees. Waterloo Mayor Tim Hurley said city staff have discussed it but no plan has been developed.

But the fees likely will be brought up when  cities begin preparing their budgets later this year.

“Certainly that (franchise fees) is something we are going to be looking at as we do our future financial planning for next year’s budget, but right now” the city has no plans on imposing them, Cedar Rapids City Manager Jim Prosser said.

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Flood of 2008

June 7, 2009

Today’s Gazette includes a special section on the 2008 flood, with a lot of stories, first-person accounts and photos from throughout Eastern Iowa. Much of that information, along with videos and much more, can be found here. For those of you in Johnson County, click here for a story on that area.

Also, look for more stories in The Gazette and at GazetteOnline throughout this week, including one from me, which I’ll also post on this blog, on whether Coralville Lake should be dredged.