Fort Collins’ reputation as a bike-friendly city has been elevated over the years in part due to a growing national enthusiasm toward bicycling and fitness, as well as a keen eye and a lot of heavy lifting on behalf of our local bike advocates and city staff. This is great on many fronts.
Bicycling is an opportunity to make our community a vibrant destination for residents and visitors — a place where people don’t just live and work, but thrive. Building such a community can translate into a more connected, physically active and environmentally sustainable community that enjoys increased property values, business growth, increased tourism and more transportation choices for citizens.
In May 2013, the city earned the platinum-level bike-friendly designation by the League of American Bicyclists, or LAB. Fort Collins is one of only four cities in the country to receive this prestigious designation, which until recently was the highest level attainable. The designation in and of itself is terrific for our reputation among our peer communities and for tourism. But more important than the award itself is the support and direct assistance that is provided once you get on the radar as being “bike friendly.”
The LAB Bicycle Friendly Community program provides a roadmap to improve conditions for bicycling and the guidance to make our distinct vision for a better, bikeable community a reality. With a staff of experts, as well as the combined knowledge of hundreds of engineers, government officials and bike advocates, the LAB helps communities get to the next level (which for us is “diamond” and just now being developed) to keep communities reaching for the stars. The city of Fort Collins is tapping into this wealth of knowledge to make bicycling in Fort Collins safer and easier.
Collaboration is key, and it’s happening as we speak. Transportation projects that in years past may have been accomplished through the “silos” of each department are now being approached collaboratively, and opportunities to improve the city’s bicycle infrastructure are being identified through the city’s Street Maintenance Program. The city can evaluate its street system (and thus the bicycle network) and follow through with long-term, cost-effective maintenance and street improvements.
As part of this effort, where feasible, bicycle lanes are being added, widened or upgraded to create “buffered bike lanes.” These facilities provide a 2- to 3-foot striped buffer, increasing the separation between bicyclists and motorists and creating a higher level of safety and comfort for people on bikes. Some locations where these are being added in 2014 include McMurray Avenue, Lochwood Drive, West Stuart Street and South Shields Street between Horsetooth and Prospect roads, the area with the highest number of bicycle-vehicle collisions.
Are you interested in learning more about bicycling projects and improvements? The city’s FC Bikes program is in the process of updating its bicycle plan and would love your input at an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. July 30 at the Lincoln Center.
Sylvia Cranmer is an avid bicyclist and a member of Bike Fort Collins and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Education Coalition (bpeclarimer.org), as well as chairwoman of the city of Fort Collins Bicycle Advisory Committee.