A trip to the Fort Collins Bike Library should be an essential part of anyone’s Fort Collins bucket list.
This downtown icon provides loaner bikes to anyone who wants one for a few hours or a few days. Whether you’re a longtime local, a newcomer, or a visitor, the bike library offers “free wheels” as an easy and fun way to get around town.
At the same time, it offers an inside perspective of the culture that truly defines Fort Collins. Fort Collins has come a long way in the many years I’ve been here. Formerly known as the cow town to the north, Fort Collins has matured into a hip and comfy small city.
The culture that is becoming a defining characteristic of this community is based around the bicycle. You can’t read a review about Fort Collins these days without some mention of bicycles. From hosting international cycling events to our miles of bike trails and our bike-inspired beers — and for achieving the highest national designation for bicycle-friendly communities — Fort Collins is certainly being defined as a bicycling town.
As a pillar of support for this culture, the bike library provides users an adventure and an experience: going to the historic train depot and Downtown Transit Center; interacting with the passionate staff and volunteers; and being enveloped in the vibe of sustainable, fun transportation. It’s liberating and empowering, and way more fun than hopping in a car.
A collaborative effort between the city’s FC Bikes program, Bike Fort Collins and Transfort, the bike library is in its eighth year of lending and has been evolving. Last year brought significant changes that have enhanced the bike library’s financial sustainability while maintaining the down-to-earth character that makes it so special.
After moving from Old Town Square to the new location at the Downtown Transit Center, a synergy has been created with Transfort to create a true multi-modal transportation experience. Transfort and MAX riders can arrive downtown and, once off the bus, walk just a few steps to grab a bike to navigate around downtown, creating a seamless, low-impact transportation network.
The past year also brought with it new lending policies, limiting the free rental period to a half day, rather than a whole week. As much as we all hate to see the end of the entirely free program, this is a great compromise providing some much-needed revenue for program enhancements while at the same time making more bikes available and still offering free bikes on a limited basis.
This program is all about the journey, not so much the destination. If you haven’t already done so, make this the summer you experience a Fort Collins gem. The Fort Collins Bike Library is now open with expanded hours: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
Learn more at www.fcbikelibrary.org.
Sylvia Cranmer is chairwoman of the Fort Collins Bicycle Advisory Committee, and a member of Bike Fort Collins and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Education Coalition (BPEC).