Fort Collins Named a Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists
As bicycling continues to grow in popularity, leaders in cities across the country, like Fort Collins, are embracing the environmental, financial and quality of life benefits that come with a population that likes to ride. Today, the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) and Fort Collins has been named a Platinum BFC. Read the rest of this entry
We celebrate Bike and Walk to School Days because, sadly, things have changed. Forty years ago, the majority of children walked or biked to school, particularly those from families that lived within 1 mile. Now this rate is from 5 to 15 percent nationally.
As much as 30 percent of morning traffic is parents transporting their children to school. The nation’s Safe Routes to School program was created in response to the decline in children biking and walking to school and due to concerns about children’s health and the environment.
The city of Fort Collins’ Safe Routes to School program has set an ambitious goal of getting 50 percent of schoolchildren biking or walking to school regularly. Current rates in our city are as low as 10 to 25 percent. Read the rest of this entry
Last year, Forbes Magazine reported the annual operating cost of a bicycle at $308, compared with $8,220 for the average car.
Are you ready to ditch your car to become a full-time bicycle commuter and save $7,912 a year? Even a partial savings of fuel costs adds up quickly. According to Consumer Reports, you could spend more than $11,000 annually to fill up your RAV4, or $15,000 for your Jeep Liberty.
Why not try it once or twice a week? Admittedly for the beginning or infrequent bicycle commuter, there are challenges. The good news is they all can be overcome with motivation, using the proper equipment, and wearing appropriate clothes. Read the rest of this entry
Springtime means flowers bloom and more people ride bikes, so it’s the perfect time to hone up on bike safety techniques, rules of the road and basic bike maintenance skills. And Loveland residents can do all three during “Roll Into Spring” week, April 22-26.
BPEC and its Bicycle Ambassador Program, in partnership with FC Bikes, the City of Loveland and all BPEC members, are hosting a week of fun bicycle events to encourage more people to ride and to do so safely. Highlights for the week include: Read the rest of this entry
I recently (and successfully) completed a League of American Bicyclists instructor course. After an exciting ride through downtown Fort Collins on a Friday night, several skills tests, group and individual presentations, and many teaching scenarios and discussions about how to teach bike safety, 11 local bicyclists and I are new League Cycling Instructors, or LCIs.
Mostly, the course reiterated information I’d already learned and skills I routinely use as I commute by bicycle year-round. One concept witnessed and lesson learned surprised me, however: how important it is to have the right kind of reflection to be visible at night.
People who know me may be chuckling right now, because I wear one of the most fluorescent riding jackets available. It was a gift from my husband, who’s a paramedic, and has a reflectivity rating high enough to make it legal apparel for directing traffic while standing in the center of Interstate 25. And in addition to a white front light and rear red flashing light mounted to my bike, I have one of the brightest helmet-mounted light systems on the market. If people can’t see me, they either aren’t looking or they are visually impaired.
But even with all of that, I did not win the “most visible after dark” prize in my LCI class. Our instructor did, because of the reflective, light-up band he wore on his left leg (the side nearest traffic most of the time). Here’s why: Read the rest of this entry
As the spring cycling season rolls upon us, our wheels are turning trying to keep pace with all the activities and events approaching in the coming months.
The momentum starts in April and it just keeps building through the summer. Whether you are a newbie to cycling or a seasoned veteran, whether you want to be on the outside looking in or you’re on the inside looking out — an eclectic array of opportunities awaits.
The more exposure we have to bicycling in any shape or form, the better we’ll all understand the bicycling culture — the people, the stuff and the physical space — and thus we overcome hesitancies to get on a bike and ride. Making it fun and easy is the key to increasing our comfort level, so start exploring opportunities now and get involved at the level that feels right for you. Challenge yourself to tap in to the bicycling scene in each of the following ways, at least once this year: Read the rest of this entry
Fort Collins is a community of active and involved bicyclists. Many of us pride ourselves on the frequency with which we ride, our eclectic collection of bicycles, the extreme conditions in which we ride, and the extent to which we get involved with local and statewide cycling events.
However, despite the high visibility of this involved group, this is not the majority of the bicycling population. There is a large — 60 percent — segment of the population that is identified as “interested but concerned,” which is the majority.
At the third annual Colorado Bicycle Summit in Denver last month, keynote speaker Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke of the importance of continuing to promote the bike-friendly brand for Colorado.
To this end, he identified the need to reach out to the various segments of bicyclists — particularly the biggest, yet most underserved portion — the “interested but concerned.” This group does not consist of thrill seekers, racers or hipsters, but rather fair-weather bikers who value comfort, safety and convenience. These riders may or may not own a bike and may hardly ever get out to ride because of the real and perceived dangers. Despite the fact that this is the largest segment of the biking population, it is the most overlooked. Read the rest of this entry
At 570 pounds, Ernest Gagnon decided to start riding a bicycle again. After overcoming his initial fear and shame, he rode as if his life depended on it. Two years later, he is 200 pounds lighter, with the goal of becoming a lean, mean racing machine.
I read his inspirational story recently, and it reminded me of one of the things I love most about bicycling: You don’t have to be skinny to do it. Cycling is a great sport for transportation, exercise and travel for people of all sizes and abilities.
Of all the sports and activities out there, cycling is a great way to get active again, whether you are overweight or not. It is low impact, you can start small and you can get exercise while just going places. Gagnon’s first ride was only 1 mile. Now he rides five to six times a week, for much longer distances and is Read the rest of this entry
The League of American Bicyclists, in designating Fort Collins as a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community several years ago, stated that our community has a “deep and abiding commitment to bicycling.” Today that local Fort Collins bike culture is as strong as ever and continues to grow.
We have one of the best recreational trail systems in the world, spanning over 30 miles. Our Safe Routes to Schools program actively engages both students and parents in bicycling and walking. We have one of the few staffed, free bike libraries anywhere in the country. Fort Collins hosts numerous races and cycling events throughout the year, and now for the first time is hosting a USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage in August.
To ensure our bike culture reaches the next level, a group of local cycling organizations is promoting the creation and development of a world-class cycling park in Fort Collins. And we need your help! Read the rest of this entry
If your family is interested in biking or walking to school, keep in mind that there may be a single best route or several good routes to choose from. It depends on what conditions exist between your home and your child’s school. Remember: the most direct route isn’t necessarily the safest route.
When determining your child’s route to school, consider the following:
• Facilities for active modes of transportation. Is there a multi-use trail along the route? Do streets include bicycle and pedestrian facilities (sidewalks, bike lanes, underpasses, overpasses)?
• Traffic volume. What is traffic like when your child needs to travel to/from school? Does heavy “rush hour” traffic overlap with the school’s opening/closing times?
• Speed limits and “traffic calming.” Slower-moving traffic is generally safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Is there a school speed zone along the route? Do other traffic-calming devices help keep motorists at a safer speed (speed bumps, speed displays, “slow down” signs, flashing signals)?
• Crosswalks and crossing guards. Are there crosswalks to help negotiate street crossings? Are the crosswalks patrolled by crossing guards?
A great resource for route planning is the Fort Collins Bike Map (available at your local bike shop or library, or online at fcgov.com/bicycling), which indicates multi-use trails, bike lanes, bike routes and school locations. (The City is developing a new Safe Routes to School online mapping tool, available this fall.)
Once you’ve identified a route, be sure to test it in advance with your child. If you discover unexpected road conditions or other challenges, you can make adjustments before your child uses the route for the first time. Make sure you discuss any hazards encountered, such as driveways, short light cycles, narrow sidewalks, traffic, etc.
Until children are clearly capable of crossing a street on their own, they should always go with an older child or an adult. Generally speaking, children under age 10 do not have the necessary skills to accurately judge the speed or distance of oncoming traffic.
In is best for children of any age to travel in groups rather than going it alone. If your schedule allows, plan to walk or bike with your child. Or see if your school has a “walking school bus” or “bike train” so your child can go with a group escorted by adults. Read the rest of this entry