Transit Action Week

budget-is-what-you-stand-for

 

Tonight at the city’s regular council meeting at city hall (6:00PM) [note: council voted 6-1 to support the most robust Sunday service option, the route realignment concerns below remain], Fort Collins city council will consider the next step in fulfilling a commitment it made during the last budget process. They are due some credit for this step. Finally, it seems, we will join the vast majority of healthy, vibrant mid-sized peer cities in offering some Sunday bus service.  We are fond of touting our commitment to triple bottom line sustainability- centering on policies that balance and advance social, environmental, and economic health and justice. But our inaction on prioritizing sustainable transportation makes us a regressive outlier.

route 12 realignmentTo whit, even as the city advances Sunday service, they are also considering a route realignment that would eliminate public transit in southwest Fort Collins. This would cut off the ARC, Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Store and planned Habitat Development Cottages on Harmony, Mercy Housing and Timber Ridge Mobile Home Park and more. If you’re troubled by that, as we are, join us in sending a message to city leaders that we can’t just rob Peter to pay Paul and call it progress. We won’t reach a meaningful, useful transit service by shuffling around the same marginal budget from route to route. Fort Collins must invest in transit and in people if we want to become the leader in social environmental and social sustainability we aspire to be.

For our many strengths as a community, and our nods to sustainability as a goal, our lack of commitment to comprehensive transit service and transit oriented development plus our reluctance to shift our transportation budget priorities to put the safety and health and mobility of ALL users ahead of the speed and convenience of cars and parking are alarming tells. Its time we challenged our city leaders: don’t tell us what you stand for, show us your budget, and we’ll tell YOU what you stand for.
Talking points about transit for city leaders:

1) the most effective and cost effective way for cities to lead on climate change is transportation and land use policy that promotes transit and transit oriented development. Support Option 4 for the most robust possible commitment to transit service.

2) Do not cut service that affects already underserved communities. ridership volume is an incomplete, unjust metric for transit service. Economically marginalized and disabled folks need transit that WORKS! this means increasing frequency, service hours and days, and quality of infrastructure at and near busstops.

Earth-Day-Poster-backupQuestions to email city leaders about our transportation budget:

Is our transportation budget fair and just?

Does it prioritize the safety and mobility and access of all of our community, irrespective of age, ability, gender, neighborhood, income level?

Is our transportation budget environmentally responsible?

Does it prioritize mode shift towards healthy, active transportation choices and development that supports biking, walking and transit?

Is our transportation budget economically responsible?

Who pays for the widening and construction of roads? the vast swaths of public and private space dedicated to car storage? the health impact of crashes, sedentary lifestyles, and pollution? the tax revenue lost to sprawl and a workforce that can’t afford to live in Fort Collins which either takes its dollars to surrounding bedroom towns, or spends too much on rent and lacks discretionary income?

 

write cityleaders@fcgov.com by the end of this week, or join us in commenting Tuesday, June 6th at City Hall.

 

plan for people and placesI’ll close by resharing this from a post last week about Open Streets, its relevant today, in a discussion of transit as well:

The more time you spend thinking about what The Atlantic calls “the absurd primacy of the automobile in American life” the more obvious it is that single occupancy, manually driven motor vehicles are, generously, a transitional technology. They’re the fax machines of transportation. Its hard to imagine we’ll escape the judgement of future generations when they try to describe the damage we’ve done in a short time because of cars. Its not unreasonable to propose that American autocentrism is the most costly, deadly, and reckless corporate welfare boondoggle in the history of human civilization.

And so, the death of the car era is inevitable, but anyone who pretends to know what comes next, or to sell a simple solution, or to know what shape the next transportation revolution will take is unreasonably confident. It is coming. It will be disruptive. Many of our city plans and engineering horizons stretch to 20 years and beyond. Fort Collins, like much of the country, is currently building really amazing fax machine infrastructure. The cities that survive will be the cities who have started thinking about how we will adapt and retrofit our transportation systems for whats next.

 

ED Letter for June: Paris, Open Streets, Busses, Bike Month and You

route 12 realignment

(Graphic courtesy of Cari Brown)

 

I don’t like shaming people for personal behavioral decisions that have adverse climate impact.

I know transit isn’t a viable option for a lot of people due to lifestyle or crap routes or schedules

and I know bikes aren’t an option for some people for various reasons

and I know meat tastes good and a lot of otherwise responsible, thoughtful people get oddly patriotic in defense of the environmental catastrophe that is carnivorism

and I know that green consumerism is a stopgap at best in the absence of well aligned policies

and I know lawns and half acre lots in low density developments are aspirational for so much of the country because a lot of us associate urbanization with crime and loss of privacy

We all have our reasons.

I learned a long time ago that nobody likes lifestyle fascism.

I know nobodys perfect. (Arby’s is one of my great occasional guilty pleasures).

But heres the thing:

we don’t have to be perfect

we don’t have to have all the answers

we don’t have to move to high rises and take priestly vows of veganism

If you’re mad about Paris, and you damn well should be, and if you’re privileged enough to have consumer and lifestyle choice, eating less animal based food and driving less not only have profound impacts on the climate, but they send signals to the economy and our civic leaders. In Fort Collins, we still do not have Sunday or early morning or late bus service and huge swaths of the city are still either unserved by transit, or served by half hour of hour interval routes. hardly useful.

And Transfort is currently proposing cuts that would leave SW FC with NO transit. None.

I’m not picking fights. The city has a budget to balance. but if we’re serious about climate change. we cannot cut service. And I’m not advocating for shuffling the tiny pool of Transfort dollars to from one part of town to another

but we cannot reduce transportation choice if we want to thrive as a city in the 21st city.

we cannot double down on sprawl and congestion and vast overbuilt parking lots and long-term financing of massive and expensive parking garages that will be obsolete in a decade…

The most effective climate movement we could join in Fort Collins is a transportation movement.

Buy a bus pass and ride the bus more. (Transfort counts route traffic and use those counts to balance service and justify budget increases).

Own or manage or have influence in a business? use your business to incent people to bike and walk and bus to work and shop.

Write council, attend council meetings and demand we put our money where its mouth is.

We live in a free market economy, more or less. however we feel about the morality of that, our bucks are votes (as are your transportation decisions). Not everyone has enough of them to have choices, but if you do, use yours to stand up for others who don’t.

And the earth.


This weekend the city is hosting its first Open Streets of 2017. Open Streets events were born in Bogota as Ciclovias.  The Bogota model is a little more ambitious than most. EVERY SUNDAY the city closes some 80 miles of public streets and roads to cars making them bike/walk only for a day each week.

The idea is to try to encourage cities and residents to reimagine our relationships with streets. Its only in relatively recent history that streets have been relegated to high efficiency conduits for a singular use. For thousands of years, streets were the lifeblood of economically and socially vibrant communities. In many places they still are, and in yet others, they are finally returning to that role.

In a lot of the world, and to varying degrees, towns and cities took a wrong turn. We went all in on dismantling thousands of years of accumulated wisdom for how to create vibrant communities, and for various reasons, we bought into an development and transportation mode that is less healthy, less socially connected, more segregated, environmentally indefensible, astonishingly expensive, and perhaps most appallingly- has, in living memory, become the leading cause of preventable death for american children.

Indeed, traffic violence is such a perennial epidemic that we are more or less numb it. As folks in Larimer County look at Chicago and its (overstated) murder rate and comfort ourselves that we are safer than city dwellers, The truth is: our rapidly rising traffic fatality rate of 16/100k/year will very likely eclipse Chicago’s murder rate of 17/100k/year next year. Nationally? 2016 saw 40,000 traffic deaths and rising dramatically, while homicides have been declining for decades and now account for about 15,000 deaths a year- or less than half the traffic fatality rate.

The more time you spend thinking about what The Atlantic calls “the absurd primacy of the automobile in American life” the more obvious it is that single occupancy, manually driven motor vehicles are, generously, a transitional technology. They’re the fax machines of transportation. Its hard to imagine we’ll escape the judgement of future generations when they try to describe the damage we’ve done in a short time because of cars. Its not unreasonable to propose that American autocentrism is the most costly, deadly, and reckless corporate welfare boondoggle in the history of human civilization.

And so, the death of the car era is inevitable, but anyone who pretends to know what comes next, or to sell a simple solution, or to know what shape the next transportation revolution will take is unreasonably confident. It is coming. It will be disruptive. Many of our city plans and engineering horizons stretch to 20 years and beyond. Fort Collins, like much of the country, is currently building really amazing fax machine infrastructure. The cities that survive will be the cities who have started thinking about how we will adapt and retrofit our streets for whats next.


A lot of folks think Open Streets is just another street fair in Fort Collins. But the vision is much larger, and part of a much larger movement. Open streets is about starting the conversation around the future of streets. The future of neighborhoods. Its about putting health and safety and vibrancy ahead of relegating streets to “sewers for cars”. Its about future proofing Fort Collins. Its about sharing the tools and the vision for a smarter future. Fred Kent said famously “If you plan for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic, if you plan for people and places, you get people and places”.

Along with creative placemaking collaborative Create Places, FC Bikes and the City of Fort Collins have worked hard to take Open Streets to the next level this weekend. Open Streets is all about planning for people, and demonstrating activated public spaces that inspire community and health. If you’re free Sunday, you should come check it out.

With its decision on Paris, the current administration has guaranteed there will be challenging times ahead, but the forestalling of the post-auto era doesn’t make it any less inevitable. It does mean its on cities to lead the way. The cities that will survive and thrive in the 21st centuries are the ones that embrace the uncertainty of the future and divest from the autocentric strategy of widening roads, devouring open space, subsidizing sprawl and parking, and shrugging off an unconscionable historic public health and safety catastrophe.

Theres a better future waiting if we really want it though.

 

 

plan for people and places

A Quick Mid-month Update: What is City Plan?

collage

 

Hi friends.

I wanted to take a minute out of prepping for a busy summer of bike and active living related events and share a quick note about the upcoming city plan update.

But I wanna start by asking a few questions:

Do you value contiguous, protected bike lanes and well developed low stress bike networks?

Do you think transit has an important role to play in leading Fort Collins away from sprawl and congestion and autocentrism?

Do you think smart, sustainable growth and development should be normalized and very low density, car-heavy land use should pay for its own negative environmental, social and economic impact?

Do you think kids should be able to safety ride to neighborhood schools and parks without having to navigate 50mph roads that lack midblock crossings?

Do you think every Fort Collins resident should live within walking distance of healthy food and parks, and within useful transit reach of healthcare, jobs, church, and civic engagement?

Do you think seniors should be able to age in place in walkable ADA accessible neighborhoods that don’t make them choose between staying engaged and giving up driving?

Do you think the working class should have a chance to live in town, and have access to sustainable transportation options, rather than being pushed further and further out of Fort Collins, forcing them to drive to work, adding to congestion, roadwork, parking woes, and the health and safety consequences of driving more and further?

Do you think that all children, regardless or race, class, identity or neighborhood deserve to share our commitment to bike friendly community?

City plan touches all of these concerns, and informs not just how and where we build, but who is welcome, and whos safety matters.  Along with transportation and transit plans, city plan is a manifesto for our values as a community and an opportunity to affect the course of Fort Collins for generations to come. These plans, more than proclamations and pronouncements, are how we operationalize (or don’t operationalize) our commitment to safe, healthy, inclusive, and economically vibrant streets and neighborhoods.

We are lucky to have city leadership that values these concerns and is looking to the community to shape this plan. We also know that because people are busy, and because city plans are ill-understood, sometimes the voices who are loudest in these process don’t always represent the diverse needs of Fort Collins.

With all that in mind, Bike Fort Collins will focus heavily on the city, transportation and transit plan updates happening over the next year and a half.  And we hope you will too.  We’re organizing action teams, strategizing, working to make sure that in every discussion about the future of the city centers around putting people before cars, parks before parking, community before commutes, and advances a vision of more bikes – safe streets and one voice for everyone in Fort Collins who rides a bike.

 

This Thursday at 4PM, we have a special presentation by Charles Brown, a national bike expert, who will speaking and leading a conversation about centering the planning process on equity.

And next Thursday’s NoCo Bike Show (6:30PM at Wolverine Farm on Willow) will include a conversation with city staff about what the plan updates are, why they matter to us as cyclists, and how we can get involved to affect the outcome.

Theres a lot at stake over the next year and a half of plan updates. We’ll need everyone’s help to keep building the future we deserve.

Click here for more information

May Updates from the Executive Director

Boy oh boy, this is a BIG month here at BFCHQ.

Rides, events, news, and check out my speech at Earth Day last month!

Meet Michelle!

Michelle LaCrosse 2017
MIchelle LaCrosse Community Relations Coordinator

Up front, I want to welcome and introduce our new community relations coordinator MIchelle LaCrosse to the team. This is a new position for us and we are really excited to have someone with Michelle’s skills and experience helping connect with our volunteers, community partners, sponsors and donors, and making sure we’re telling our story and connecting with like-minded folks like you.

CycloFemme

IMG_1093

May 14th will see the return of CycloFemme. CycloFemme is a Global Celebration of Women created TO HONOR THE PAST from the shoulders of those who stood before us, for the freedom to choose and the chance to wear pants. TO CELEBRATE THE PRESENT with strength and courage, voices raised, moving together. TO EMPOWER THE FUTURE of women everywhere, the backbone of positive social change. This years rides will depart Akinz in Old Town at 11AM, May 14th.  There are roadie and cruiser paced ride options and everyone will convene for a social afterwards.

Ride of Silence

ride-of-silence-flyer2017

The Ride of Silence is an international memorial ride. Each year on the 3rd Wednesday in May (the 17th, this year), cyclists around the world take to the streets in silent memory of fellow cyclists we’ve lost to traffic violence. There will be a short program and an opportunity to share your own stories at the shelter before the ride departs. Join us at 6:45 in Old Town Square to sign a waiver and share your stories before we depart for a casual paced silent ride in memories of friends, family and neighbors.

Pathways to Health Speaker Series: Charles Brown

Charles brown

We’re proud to announce the next event in our Health Equity Speaker Series: a Conversation with Charles Brown.  Charles will be speaking and leading a conversation at Wolverine Farm Letterpress and Publick House (316 Willow St.) on May 18th from 4-6PM.

Read Charles' Bio
Charles Brown, MPA is a senior researcher with the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) and adjunct professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, both at Rutgers University. He has 15 years of public and private sector experience in transportation planning, policy, and research, and extensive experience in community development across three states: Mississippi, Florida and New Jersey.

He is considered a national thought leader and a leading voice in bike equity, environmental justice, open streets, and complete streets policy adoption and implementation. His work has been featured by or quoted in the New York Times, NPR, Streetsblog Los Angeles and Chicago, CityLab, and various other national and local media outlets.

He was recently interviewed for the Bike Nerds Podcast and published a widely lauded series for the Better Bike Share blog on “Silent Barriers to Bicycling”

follow Charles on twitter at @ctbrown1911

Presented by Kaiser Permanente

Noco Bike Show – May 25th, 6:30-8:30 at Wolverine Farm Letterpress and Public House

In addition to the usual team, club and city updates, this month’s NoCo Bike Show will feature

  • A new vision for FC Bikes Open Streets events
  • A presentation on the Transportation Masterplan Update and why it matters and how bike folks can get involved
  • A demo of Map NoCo a new community based infrastructure tool we’re helping roll out this summer
  • NoCo Bike Trivia Night Pt3

plus giveaways and surprises!  NoCo Bike Show is brought to you as always by Urban Mattress Fort Collins and Topo Designs Fort Collins.

State Legislative Update:

Roll Coal Bill Clears the Legislature

it took 2 sessions and 3 different bills, but  rolling coal finally a crime!

Earth Day Talk

I was honored to be asked to speak at last month’s Earth Day celebration in Civic Center Park. I took the opportunity to talk about the connection between social and environmental sustainability. Our Colorado green dreams won’t come true unless they result in a city that values and makes space for everyone, not just a narrowing set of folks who can afford to buy in. Here’s a lightly edited transcript of the talk:

When people learn what I do for a living, there are a few pretty common reactions.

  1. they want know if I have a car (I don’t)
  2. they want to know if I have a license (I do)
  3. they want to know what I do when it snows (I have good winter tires and a bus pass)
  4. and more often than not, they start listing excuses for not riding more.

sometimes it feels like bike confession- “forgive me father, for I have sinned, its been three months since my last bike ride”.

And its true that I’m always a little bummed when I show up for coalition meetings and discover I’m the only bike in the bike rack, or that I’m the only one who took the bus. Especially since so many of my meetings are about promoting active living and transportation. But, I understand that people’s lifestyles are complicated. And that a lot of times active transportation isn’t the right choice. So I wanted to talk a little bit today about what it means to have choices.

i grew up in Las Vegas. not by choice.

If you’ve ever been to Vegas and ventured beyond the strip, you probably know its not real hospitable to bikes, or pedestrians, and its not easy to get around on public transit. So like most westerners and south-westerners, I grew up in cars. I grew up thinking of my car (a Chevy S10 pickup) as an extension of myself.

After college I chose to move to Chicago, where having a car was a nightmare, and lasted about a week. And for the first time, I discovered what it was like to live in a place that put moving people first. Not cars. I remember my first time on the L-train, looking around: theres a guy on his way to the mercantile exchange in a thousand dollar suit, theres a 9 year old girl with her cello, theres a guy singing for change. And we’re all in this shared space together. Like we share the city together. Like we share the planet together. It changed my life.

A couple years- and one bad breakup- later, bikes changed my life again. so much so that I moved here, to “The choice city”. because of its reputation as an emerging bike friendly city. Fort Collins was somewhere between Chicago and Las Vegas. Our green conscience meant that bikes were part of the culture, but abundance of land meant there was less interest in shared space, and more interest in staking out property, even if it meant driving a little further. And over time, thousands of “a little further”s add up to pressure for wider and faster roads, and an induced demand for bigger and uglier parking lots everywhere. And fitting in safe routes and active transportation was- at best- an afterthought, financially and culturally.

Right away it was clear that riding for fun was gonna be great here, but being car free was gonna take some commitment. But I chose to try. I made that choice, partly out of frugality, partly as a political statement, and partly out of stubbornness.

Its also become clear clear to me that as Fort Collins grows and we inch towards embracing active transportation, notching up awards and national rankings, that that embrace isn’t felt everywhere in Fort Collins.

Another thing that living in Chicago taught me- and a lot of this had to do with shared public space as well- is how lucky I am. That’s why I don’t actually judge or shame anyone for their transportation habits. I’m lucky I am able-bodied. I’m lucky that my upbringing afforded me access to opportunities, and those opportunities include choosing to live in a neighborhood that is well served by bike lanes and bus service. I’m lucky that getting a flat and rolling in late would never cost me my job. I’m lucky that I’ve always been able to secure my bike inside my house or at work. And I’m lucky that if my bike was stolen, It would suck, but I could buy another. 

My good luck amounts to access to choice, and my values have demanded that I try to make sustainable choices, as much as possible.

But without my good luck, without access, theres no choice. 

We all made a choice to be here today on a saturday. We’re all here to learn about sustainability. And how we can make better, more sustainable choices. We’re all lucky.

I was really excited to learn that this year’s earth day event would focus on the triple bottom line. On the relationships among environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Because thats why I do what I do. That’s why transportation is so important. Everyone has a right to safe, healthy, convenient access to work and school and worship and parks and healthcare and community. And the way we plan our streets and cities is a manifesto for our values. 

So when we talk about sustainability, and we include the whole spectrum of sustainability, we need the humility and empathy to ask some challenging questions-

Questions like-

What is sustainability?

if we have bike lanes on every street, solar roofs on every house, but 2/3rd of our workforce can’t afford to live here, is that sustainable?

If the premium to buy into green culture is inaccessible to low income neighborhoods, is that sustainable?

If our working class has to drive further, and bear an undue share of the health and safety consequences of driving, is that sustainable?

If our automobile fatality rates in Larimer county saw a 35% increase over the past year, putting our per capita traffic death rate roughly the same as Chicago’s murder rate, is that sustainable?

Who is valued in our community and what do our plans and policies and budgets and consumer choices say about those values?

Now, back to choice.

When our policies and budget priorities limit choices, or put a thumb on the scale for one mode of travel over the others, its hard for me as an advocate to expect behavioral changes that aren’t realistic. So in my advocacy, instead of shaming people into riding bikes on unsafe streets, or taking buses that don’t run on Sundays, Instead, I ask for help.

If you’re as lucky as I am, you can choose to help me. So here’s the ask: lets work together to create a Northern Colorado that values everyone, that serves the needs of everyone- especially people who have fewer choices- whose health and safety and access to opportunity are most tenuous.

So again. Its really inspiring that so many of you chose to come out on a Saturday to talk about sustainability.

but what are you doing when you get home? 

what are you doing tomorrow?

what are you doing Monday?

Earlier this month, we had a city council election that had the lowest council election turnout in 20 years.

I’m not here to shame people for not voting. Maybe you were busy. Maybe you didn’t see your vision for the future of the city in any of the candidates.

But this Tuesday night alone, city council is holding a work session to consider how much funding to dedicate to expanding our bus service to Sunday. They’ll also be talking about impact fees for new development. Fees that, as currently proposed, don’t actually account for social, economic or environmental impact of smart growth versus sprawl. 

And over the next couple of years, they’ll preside over a 20 year plan that will determine the shape and character of our city and our streets.

29 votes decided the district 6 election in 2015.

Larimer County and Fort Collins have dozens of boards and commissions steered by community members. These boards advise and in some cases have legal authority to make important decisions. Last month alone Larimer County had openings on the following: Agricultural Advisory Board, Board of Health, Environmental & Science Advisory Board, Land Stewardship Advisory Board, Office on Aging Advisory Council, Open Lands Advisory Board, Parks Advisory Board, Planning Commission, and the Rural Land Use Board,

At present, the city has openings on the Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Air Quality Advisory Board.

Its not uncommon for these openings to go unfilled.

The national political climate is toxic and demoralizing for anyone who is concerned about sustainability. And it feels broken. And real change feels remote. But for a few hours a month of your time, you can have a say in the future of northern Colorado. If you don’t feel represented in the process, don’t withdraw, storm the gates. Come to city council. Run for office. Yeah you.

At the very least I hope you’ll choose to join me, and the sustainable living association, and Bike Fort Collins and so many others, in demanding that our city and our county put community before commutes, parks before parking, that they help us build neighborhoods where families can make healthy choices, where kids can safely play and seniors can age in place.

Keep Riding,

Chris J

 

A couple of easy Monday calls to action

streets-are-for-people-button

Hi Everyone,

 

We’ll have a longer update next week on our regular May newsletter; introducing our new community relations coordinator, upcoming rides and events, etc. But I wanted to reach out with a quick easy ask for help.

Theres are two big ticket items on the council work session agenda for tomorrow night (Tuesday, the 25th).  Its a work session, so there is no opportunity for comment, and no final decisions are being made. But the issues are important enough that we’d love to ask your help.

 

First: do you know what council district you’re in?

 

If not, here’s a map.  Got it? You can click on a district on that map and it’ll tell you who your council member is.

 

Now that you know your council member, here’s their email addresses.

http://www.fcgov.com/council/

you can send to cityleaders@, buts its more likely to get read if its send directly to your rep.  It helps to include your address or neighborhood as well.

 

Here’s the asks.

Transfort enhancement

We’re asking the city to support “Option 5”, which is the most robust commitment to public transit on the table for the work session. Any commitment to encouraging active transportation and bike safety has to include multimode support.  Every commuter we get out of a single occupancy vehicle saves the city money, improves public safety (especially bike safety), reduces carbon emissions, and strengthens our arguments for increased spending on bike friendly infrastructure. Fully built out transit networks are a bad weather options for many bicyclists.  So we strongly support robust prioritization of Transfort and encourage folks to let council know where you stand.  Traffic crashes cost the city of Fort Collins $129 MILLION per year!  Routine road work and expansion are huge economic costs, parking in old town has become a major bottleneck to growth of downtown. Ask council to prioritize affordable active transportation.

Developer Impact Fees

When a developer build a new project, the city charges fees for the impact of that development. so that things like roads and storm-water and other city services are paid for by the developer, not subsidized by tax payers. The problem is that these fees are very general, and “impact” is defined very generally and doesn’t for impact of things like sprawl, social/economic segregation, and green versus conventional building.  There are other incentives for some of these, but we believe that the current system, where a green, transit adjacent, mixed income development pays the same impact fees as a conventionally built, lower density, automobile-centric development  where the unit sizes are the same.  In the end, this means that sustainable development is subsidizing sprawl, social segregation and non-environmentally sound development.  We are asking the city to consider a study of the impacts of non-sustainable development and create impact fees that account for triple bottom line sustainability.   We’re asking the city to measure REAL impacts, not just square footage, and make sprawl pay its way.

 

Thanks for your support of more bikes • safe streets • one voice

 

Chris J

Bike Fort Collins

 

City Election Guide – 2017 Pt 4: District 1

2017 Council Questionnaire – District 1 District-1

For the last in our series of candidate responses to Bike Fort Collins’  questionnaire, we look to district 1, northeast Fort Collins.

In this quickly changing and growing part of town, issues include growth, gentrification, and infrastructure. Unfortunately, Councilman Overbeck was unable to share his responses for comparison, but Nate Budd wrote up his thoughts on the transportation and growth of Fort Collins.

City Election Guide – 2017 Pt 3: District 5

 

In 2015, Fort Collins council district 6 was decided by 29 votes.

District 5 is in the heart of Fort Collins and is an area undergoing dramatic change: from CSU, to ongoing redevelopment of midtown, to the heart of the Transit Oriented Development overlay. The pressure of growth, congestion, affordability are coming to a head. Candidates for council district 5 shared their vision and priorities with Bike Fort Collins.

District-5

City Election Guide – 2017 Pt 2: District 3

District-3

When Bike Fort Collins reached out to our constituents with a survey last December to better understand your needs and where you live and ride, we found that one area of town was dramatically underrepresented: District 3 (Southeast Fort Collins). At the same time, D3 is also the part of town from which we get the most letters of concern. We hear all the time about speeding on fast arterials with limited pedestrian crossings and inconsistent sidewalks, token bike lanes inches from 40 mph traffic, commercial developments with vast, inhospitable wastelands of overbuilt parking, culs-de-sac and train tracks that force circuitous routing of what should be bikeable, walkable trips, parents who moved to Fort Collins to to enjoy the outdoors who find they can’t access nature without a car.

As it happens, District 3 is a particularly interesting race this year. Incumbent Gino Campana has declined to run again, making this the only council race on the ballot that doesn’t feature an incumbent (or a CSU employee, interestingly). Because it’s an open seat, it’s become a hotly contested, expensive race.

Its also the race that features the most substantial difference in priorities and vision of the future of the district and the city.

Remember: 29 votes decided District 6 in 2015.  Do your part.

 

 

City Election Guide – 2017

i-bike-i-walk-i-vote-bike-to-work-day-2013

In the 2015 Fort Collins municipal elections, District 6 (North and Northwest Fort Collins) was decided by a margin of 29 votes.

And District 4 was decided by 140 votes.

This council has weighed in on a wide array of issues that affect transportation, growth, and affordability in Fort Collins. In particular, Council approved a $400 million city budget that can be read as a statement of values and priorities for our community. Bike Fort Collins had a vocal agenda for that process, and ultimately felt that results were mixed but promising. Over the next council session, the decisions and challenges will be no less complex and the stakes will be higher than ever, thanks in part to the upcoming city plan update. Then, in late 2018 we’ll approve another two-year budget, another statement of values, another opportunity to operationalize our lofty visions of social, environmental, and economic health and sustainability.

Notwithstanding our steady stream of national awards for our economic vitality and healthy bodies and green tech, there are existentially urgent challenges on the road ahead. Decisions being made now will profoundly affect what Northern Colorado looks like in 10, 20, and 50 years.

At the heart of those decisions is a simple question of “Who is welcome here?”

Whose voices are heard? Whose interests do our leaders, our chamber, our nonprofits, our police, and our schools serve? When we close our eyes and imagine a future for the region, what does it look like? Is there economic and social diversity? Does our workforce live and play here? Are our streets and developments safe for kids to walk and ride bikes, and for seniors to stay active and independent and socially integrated? Does our transportation system provide everyone access to opportunity, healthy food, safe streets, healthcare, and jobs that support attainable housing? Does our leadership understand the relationships among transportation and health and public safety and housing? Does it stand up for walkable, bikeable, people-scale neighborhoods and safe and affordable transportation and infrastructure for all?

Fort Collins has four city races this spring: three districts (1, 3, and 5) and the mayor.

When Bike Fort Collins reached out to our constituents with a survey last December to better understand your needs and where you live and ride, we found that one area of town was dramatically underrepresented: District 3 (Southeast Fort Collins). At the same time, D3 is also the part of town from which we get the most letters of concern. We hear all the time about speeding on fast arterials with limited pedestrian crossings and inconsistent sidewalks, token bike lanes inches from 40 mph traffic, commercial developments with vast, inhospitable wastelands of overbuilt parking, culs-de-sac and train tracks that force circuitous routing of what should be bikeable, walkable trips, parents who moved to Fort Collins to to enjoy the outdoors who find they can’t access nature without a car.

As it happens, District 3 is a particularly interesting race this year. Incumbent Gino Campana has declined to run again, making this the only council race on the ballot that doesn’t feature an incumbent (or a CSU employee, interestingly). Because it’s an open seat, it’s become a hotly contested, expensive race. Every candidate in the race took a moment to give us an idea of their transportation and growth priorities. We’ll be sharing them with you this week, starting today with the mayoral race.

I’ve been excited to see so much community engagement and activism in the months since the national election. The number of people standing up, stepping forward, wanting to get involved in stewardship of our city and our planet has been powerful to watch. With so much at stake, we can’t afford not to let our voices be heard in city council elections. With margins this close and stakes this high, our voices in local government have never mattered more.

For your convenience, these questionnaires are available either to read on BFC or to download as PDFs and open in their own windows.

2017 Mayor of Fort Collins


District 3


District 5


District 1

 

 

February Letter from the ED: We Crushed It

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We crushed it.

NoCo Bike Show has been dear to my heart since Dan Porter and I dreamed it up 5 or so years ago now. The vision was born of my frustration at how often I was asked to speak on a niche topic within bike culture, and spent a day preparing materials and a slide show and showed up to find single digit crowds waiting, bored half way through my planned hour.

I had the idea that if instead of dry single topic “presentations” what if instead we put together a regular event with the specific goal of bridging cultural divides among siloed bike subcultures. After all, I’ve been a messenger, a racer, a commuter, an endurance explorer, a parent teaching a kid to ride a bike, and of late, a dog chauffeur. I was betting that a lot of us defy the narrow little boxes that bike culture marketers reduce us to.

5 years later, I’ve been proven right. After a few years off, we relaunched the show in 2016 and spent the year blowing out the cobwebs, working out the marketing and the brand. We’ve talked pro racing, bike police, mountain biking while pregnant, how city traffic cameras tell the difference between cars ans bikes, city projects, crazy adventures, advocacy and everything else we could think of.

We relauched for 2017 on February 9th and had an absolutely great show. You can see above that the crowd at Wolverine Farm was out into the hallway, we got every major bike organization on stage to share their 2017 plans, we got to talk about new races and rides, and our advocacy agenda for the year, and even got to close on a crazy adventure story. oh yeah, and beer. theres always beer.

I admit, I am a ham, I love hosting. I love the seat-of-my pants energy and willful lack of formal preparation; as often as not I don’t have any idea whats on the next slide till I see it. But the thing I love most about NoCo Bike Show is the part that has the least to do with me.

What I really love is how, when the show is over, instead of everyone heading off to their bikes, the air is full of conversations. New connections, new friendships, new partners working to solve problems together and build an even stronger community that defies reductive labels like roadie, or fixie hipster, or dirtbag, or trigeek…

If you know me, you know I love meeting people and introducing unlikely friends. NoCo Bike Show allows me to do that on a huge scale. This month we really crushed it, If you haven’t been yet, don’t worry, we’re just gettin’ started.


Of course, the “bike community” as we think of it, is only part of our responsibility. When we talk about “safe streets”, its sadly true that the people in Northern Colorado for whom safe streets- complete sidewalks, speed curbing, useful transit, bike lanes- are most elusive, are also the people least likely to participate in “bike culture”. Our commitment to our vision means we have to think not just about uniting the various facets of bike culture, but perhaps even more importantly, we have to ask ourselves, and our partners, how are we working to better serve the people who aren’t in the room?

In that spirit, we’re promoting a great professional learning event called Pathways to Health: Connecting Neighborhoods and Streets for All. If you are a community organizer, planner, public health or nonprofit professional, public administrator, or a journalist with an interest in how our built environment-from land use, to affordability, to transportation priorities- affects our health outcomes and how we can craft policies that support safer streets and neighborhoods for all residents, you owe it to yourself to join us on March 23rd. After a keynote presentation by Dr. Richard Jackson, we’ll dive headlong into topic areas like community engagement, policy advocacy, and research and data, with the goal of developing a more accountable, responsive public policy and city plans.


Finally, we’ve spent the last year working up to this next step in our advocacy committee. Funny thing about transportation: it touches everything. the way we design our transportation plans informs every other aspect of our lives. Roads and sidewalks connect us to school, to work, to church, to civic engagement, to our families and friends, to healthy food. They are the lifeblood of our cities and the circuits that connect us to opportunity.

In a small org in a busy city its hard to have eyes on everything all the time. so we’re looking for help. We need folks who are interested in keeping an eye on agendas and long term planning calendars for local and county boards, committees and commissions and meeting with our BFC advocacy teams on a monthly basis to report back and to check in on what we’re doing.

We want to make sure we know everything that’s happening in NoCo that affects our vision of increasing participation in active living and transportation (including development and land use issues), fostering neighborhood and street safety for vulnerable users, promoting equity and inclusion in transportation access and planning.

Our teams are organized into transportation, parks and environment, business, legislative, housing/land use, and community health. And we need your help staying connected. If you want to be part of the BFC Advocacy Action Teams, click though to our advocacy page and sign up.

 

January Letter from the Executive Director – Results are In

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Where to start!?

Its been a particularly busy January here at BFCHQ. If you’ve been pining for the newsletter all month, wondering where the heck we went, well… we kept thinking we had this thing sewn up and then POW, another huge piece of news dropped.

Before we dive into survey results below, here’s some highlights and some time sensitive items to get on your calendar:


NoCo Bike Show is BACK!

And this one is for YOU. If youve been following along with bike culture in Fort Collins, wanting to get involved, wanting to meet like-minded people but not sure where to start, or feeling a little overwhelmed, like… maybe you don’t know the difference between Bike Fort Collins, FC Bikes, The Fort Collins Bike Co-op or the Fort Collins Cycling Club (or any of the great clubs and teams in town), please come out to Wolverine Farm Letterpress and Publick House on Thurs, Feb. 9th from 6:30-8:30 to meet the organizations, leaders, clubs, and teams that make Fort Collins the world class bike city that it is.   We’ll also feature a presentation from Fort Collins adventure cyclist Matt Carnal, about his upcoming trans-Siberian race.

Help us spread the word and let us know you’re coming via Facebook


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Pathways to Health: Call for Proposals and Save the Date!!!

Along with Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, BFC is co-hosting a professional development event for planners, public health professionals, academics, leaders, and community advocates and organizers called Pathways to Health.  We have a great keynote planned, and a few surprises, but we are also seeking experts who want to share work or organize panels on the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion on research, policy and advocacy, or community engagement in transportation and built environment.  http://bikefortcollins.org/pathways for RFP and more details.

 


IMG_3713Fort Collins to Take The Big Jump

On Tuesday, it was announced the Fort Collins was selected by People for Bikes as one of ten recipients of its new Big Jump grant. FC Bikes lead this application and will lead the charge. Per People for Bikes:  “[Fort Collins]will be a laboratory for innovation, ultimately illustrating the ways in which U.S. cities and towns can tap into bicycles to improve the health and vitality of their communities. Each city will annually receive the equivalent of $200,000 in in technical support from PeopleForBikes to support the development of bike infrastructure and programs that encourage biking in a given neighborhood; an additional $50,000 in local matching funds from the city, community partner, or local foundations each year will also be contributed to the program.

 

The winning cities all demonstrated ongoing commitments to improving transportation, housing, and redevelopment, with both leaders and residents at large mobilized toward change. With the Big Jump Project, PeopleForBikes hopes to accelerate those changes through technical assistance, leadership development, and a network of peer cities and leaders.

“We want to expand the horizons for people who are doing this work in their communities.” said Wagenschutz. “By connecting people across cities doing some of the most innovative work in the U.S., we can foster an environment of collaboration yielding big results.”  More here


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We’re hiring!

Bike Fort Collins is looking for a Community Relations Coordinator to help us grow!  Looking for a “rolleur” type type with some experience in nonprofit development, fundraising, and/or event/volunteer coordination. You’ll work closely with the ED, the Bike Share manager, and the board to strategize and implement fundraising campaigns, sponsorship opportunities, donor development and events.  Check out the details here


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The Results are In

Last month Bike Fort Collins put out a survey asking folks to chime and give us a little better idea who we’re reaching, what your priorities are, what programs you think are important and where you want us to go next.

We left the survey up for a month, to give everyone a chance to take it. and we’ve spent the last week pouring over the results.

I’m really proud that nearly 400 (!!!) people took the time to help shape Bike Fort Collins. And I’m also really heartened that, by and large, you think we’re headed in the right direction. The things that are important to us, as an organization, and to me personally, are remarkably similar to the priorities that mattered most to you as a community.  That says to me that we have a really good relationship. Were listening to each other.  And that makes me hopeful about our ability to get things done.

Who are you?

The biggest single group of respondents, at 42% is 30-45 year old.  But we also got impressive participation on either side of that.  All of those groups are important. Engaging younger people in advocacy is building bridges to the future. Older cyclists, on the other hand, tell us a lot about how we got here, and as the “silver tsunami” bears down on Northern Colorado, questions about aging in place and active senior living are important considerations.

Men outnumbered women, by roughly 60/40.  This is a little more even distribution than most counts and surveys. There are a few ways to look at this.  We already know that BFC takes women’s specific outreach really seriously in our programs and our culture.  Does having a larger response from women give us some useful insights into unique barriers?  It will be fun to continue to poke at the results and see.

We gave a lot of options for the self identification question, and the open answers gave us some thoughts on improving the question next year. but, over 80% of respondents identified as either bike culture nuts (30%), serious cyclists who weren’t all that interested in the culture and events (25%), or “interested but concerned” – folks who would ride more but have reservations of some sort (25%).

Geographically, the council districts with the most representation were 1 and 6, roughly Old Town and North Fort Collins.    The fewest responses came from district 3- southeast Fort Collins.  Again, you can draw a few different conclusions from this, either fewer people are riding in SEFC, or fewer of them are paying attention to us.  Either way, we view that as an opportunity.  Especially given the likelihood of a new district 3 council rep coming aboard in the spring.


What matters most to you?

We offered a list of concerns we’ve heard from the community and a scale of “very”, “moderately” and “marginally” important, “no opinion” and “don’t support”)

Items regarded as most important most often were, in order:

  • Laws and policies that support smart growth (bikeable, walkable development)
  • Tougher penalties for distracted driving
  • More protected bike lanes and protected intersections
  • Better driver education

Most of these were already high priority.  I wrote a blog post last month about my reservations with using the legal system as a tool for public safety.  But, the other items square with well with our priorities and I was heartened that smart growth is a top issue.

What are your concerns?

By far the most common responses to the question of “what limits your bike commuting?”  were “lack of convenient, direct routes”, and “concerns about impaired or distracted drivers”.  For this survey at least, “lack of workplace or school support and infrastructure” was a pretty marginal barrier.

What do you love about Bike Fort Collins?

The next question was about our programs. Which ones do you think are valuable, do you think are a waste, are you indifferent to?

Overwhelmingly, the program you thought was most important was our advocacy committee.  If you were one of those folks, we have good news on that front, because next month we’re releasing our ambitious 2017 advocacy plan.

Behind advocacy, others that got top marks were:

  • Safe Routes to School
  • Chain Reaction (our restorative justice partnership with the city and county)
  • and our Bike Friendly Business Network

Least important were rides, which was a bit of a headscratcher, since one of the most frequent comments I get from folks is that we need MORE social rides in town. But overall, in a big town full of great bike groups, its nice to get some clarity about what people value about you. I think those answers reflect the areas where we have a unique opportunity to fill an important role in the local culture.

Where do we go from here?

Next up was which upcoming initiatives are most important to you.  The landslide winner here was “Regional Expansion of Safe Routes to School”, which is a goal that’s still in its infancy, but we agree that all Northern Colorado students deserves the same high quality bike and traffic safety education that we offer in Fort Collins. I always remind folks that today’s safe routes students are tomorrow’s more thoughtful drivers.

After that, the next three were

  • Support for affordable housing and affordability initiatives to curb car dependency and improve access to active transportation
  • Focus on connectivity between cities in NoCo
  • Increase Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (EID) in transportation planning

This result in particular got me a little choked up.  There have been times when talking about affordable housing or equity and diversity as a bike nonprofit leader has been a little bit of a hard sell. Finding out that they’re concerns which resonate with you, and confirming that you think Bike Fort Collins has a role in addressing them gave me wings. I believe that being a bike friendly city will require that we are an affordable, inclusive city. And so do you! (that also means we have a lot of work to do)

One last thing…

This last little morsel might interest you, particularly if you own a business, are planning to run for office, or work in real estate. Turns out a HUUUUUGE portion of you said you were “very likely to buy or rent a home based on proximity to infrastructure for cycling”, and almost as many said that support for bikes was a VERY important factor in considering candidates for local office, or making consumer purchases.

To sum it up:

We got negligibly few replies from folks who outright didn’t support our particular programs or plans. hardly anyone called us names in the comments. That obviously doesn’t mean they’re not out there, but it does mean that we had a pretty OK year (my first in charge) and we’re brimming with energy and ideas and big challenges. And most importantly, whether we’re doing a good job of listening to your concerns, or we’re doing a good job of getting our people onboard with our agenda, or a lil bit of both, I feel really great about the health of our community and organization, and I look forward to serving you in 2017 an beyond.

more bikes • safe streets • one voice

 

CJ

Executive Director

Reflections on Jose Piñon

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Ghost Bike Vigil for Steve Studt

 

On Friday, there was an article in The Coloradoan about the sentencing of Jose Piñon in the death of local cyclist Steve Studt. Last month, Piñon pled guilty to felony negligent homicide only days before his trial was scheduled to begin. He was sentenced to a short jail stint, a hefty community service requirement, and as a result of his immigrant status and felony plea, he may face an uncertain future in the US when he reapplies for residency.

The comments on various news articles about the sentence predictably covered the spectrum from blaming Mr. Studt, to gross insinuations relating to the fact that English is not Mr. Piñon’s first language, to criticizing a sentence that felt to some observers like a slap on the wrist.

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard about Piñon’s last minute guilty plea was relief that he had decided to accept responsibility for his negligence. Jury trials are very expensive and time-consuming for our legal system and law enforcement.

Second, I braced for the normal victim-blaming. Sure enough, it didn’t take long. To hear some commenters explain it, bikes are a menace that should be banned from many roads.

City and county safety reports, easily available to review, tell a different story. Traffic violence – bodily injury and death resulting from traffic crashes – is among the leading causes of accidental death in the US and in Larimer County. It is also a huge cause of serious injury. But bikes are a very marginal contributor, both in absolute numbers and relative to their mode share, compared to single occupancy vehicles (SOVs).

 

Fatality-Trends

How dangerous are cars? This year, the National Safety Council predicts nearly 40,000 deaths in the US from traffic violence. That’s a 7% increase from 2015. For perspective, 15,000 Americans die in criminal violence each year. 4,000 American soldiers died in a decade in Iraq, and just over 60,000 were killed in Vietnam. Thats right–cars kill as many Americans in less than 2 years as the the Vietnam War killed in 20.

In 2015 in Fort Collins, there were over 900 traffic crashes that resulted in injury. Roughly 4% involved bike riders. Less than half of that 4% were the fault of the bike riders, who in Fort Collins account for ~7.5% of commutes.

If, as a thought experiment, you took every bicycle off the road in the US, car crashes would still kill nearly 40,000 people a year.

Now, flip that: take cars off the road and leave the roads to bikes, pedestrians, and mass transit. I think you would find you’d save in the ballpark of 39,000+ lives per year.

Dispatching the argument that bikes are a safety menace, and the attendant false equivalency of bad actors on bikes being a comparable safety threat to bad actors in cars isn’t challenging. Changing hearts and minds around auto-centrism certainly is.    

My third reaction was a wave of emotions around Piñon’s residency status, the possibility that his felony plea will mean he is deported, and disgust with some of the comments about the fact that in court he spoke through an interpreter. As a native English speaker, if you were on trial in a language other than English, you would be nuts not to enlist a professional translator, no matter how competent you were in a second language. Too much is at stake to risk an amateur mistranslation.  

Bike Fort Collins will not tolerate exploitation of this tragedy to advance anti-immigrant sentiments. That’s not who we are. We are committed to public safety and public health engagement that is more inclusive, and reaches everyone in our community. In the US, no demographic group has more at stake in really addressing bike safety than Latinos. BFC’s commitment to safe streets means we are committed to serving and working with populations who are most vulnerable and have the most exposure to the threats we’re facing.

As for the sentence itself: Some say 90 days in jail is inadequate. I reckon most of those folks have never spent 90 days in jail as a 70-year-old man. I spent the night once and it made a lasting impression. I was 20.  

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Studt’s Ghost Bike

For a bike community as large and tight-knit as ours, there is a charged and painful question at the heart of sentencing for crimes against bike riders. Robust prosecution and harsh sentences are seen as signaling a commitment to “justice.” Community service and plea deals are seen as an affront and a lack of concern for bikes and the lives of bike riders. But evidence I am aware of is quite convincing that the draconian incarceration terms we as Americans call for do nothing to support actual improvements in public safety and they do so at a very high cost. Accountability is important. Examples are important. But so is being responsible with our public dollars, and rational in our priorities. (as an aside, those I have asked from Belgium, Denmark and other countries with very high bike-ridership and very low injury and death rates all expressed doubt that under similar circumstances in their countries, Mr. Piñon would be incarcerated at all).  

Jail, like the court system, is very expensive for the county and the public. And one has to wonder if the money we use to hold people in county jail could be better applied to things like safer overpasses and a more complete regional bike network. Crime scene investigations, trials, and incarceration are expensive. Public funds are finite and constantly under threat.  

Traffic violence sometimes involves criminality, but it ALWAYS involves infrastructure. In the past few years, the deaths of cyclists on roads in Larimer County involved various degrees of criminal liability (including fleeing the scene, which is a separate and indefensible act). But they’ve also consistently involved circumstances in which complete streets or reasonable alternative routes would have likely kept negligence from resulting in the death of vulnerable users. The great tragedy of bike-related traffic fatalities in Larimer County in the last few years is how many of them occurred at places that many of us already knew to be unsafe, yet not enough has been done.   

In a pragmatic conversation about responses to traffic violence, there are clear best practices for how effective different strategies are. Least effective are personal protective measures like safety gear, seat belts, and helmets.  This is not to say that personal protective gear is useless, but in a serious reckoning with our current traffic safety crisis, they’re a very limited tool for a variety of reasons and should not be a high priority or centerpiece of any traffic safety plan. Most of the time when someone says an airbag or helmet or seatbelt saved their life, it’s also true that it saved their life from something that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.  

pedspeeds203040Similarly inefficient are administrative controls; speed limit and traffic code fit here. Yes, speed is a critical factor in traffic violence. Chances of survival of a traffic crash plunge from 90% to 10% when vehicle speed increases from 20 mph to 40 mph. But speed limits, by themselves, are less effective at controlling speed than they are at generating revenue from tickets. Think of a street or road near you that frequently hosts radar speed traps. Chances are good that there’s something wrong with the street that demands re-engineering, not more radar guns.  

See where this is headed?

If our goal is really fewer deaths on our streets and roads, defaulting to criminalizing and harshly punishing people who make bad decisions on badly engineered roads might not always be the most effective or most cost effective response to traffic violence. We should also take seriously the need to build a transportation system in which it’s much harder for bad decision-making to end tragically.

 

If you are angry that our city and county and state don’t take the safety of vulnerable road users seriously, you are right. If you think that our justice system should be a centerpiece of changing this, rather than our city and regional and transportation plans and budgets, and city council and county commissioner elections and policies, you are settling for an expensive and incomplete downstream response to an upstream problem. You are treating symptoms, not the disease.

We will be more successful in building safer streets when we are less concerned with how long offenders spend in jail and more interested in questions like:

  • Why is it so easy to get a driver’s license, and so hard to lose one?
  • Reciprocally: Why are we so reluctant to support policy and infrastructure that make living without a car or even driving less more feasible and less debilitating?
  • Why are the public safety, health, environmental, and economic impacts of over-reliance on single occupancy motor vehicles broadly subsidized?
  • Why do we prioritize increasing capacity for  law enforcement under the pretense of public safety, when traffic violence due to auto-centrism and bad infrastructure and land use is a much greater threat to public safety than crime is? Why are we told that  we can’t afford public transit and sidewalks when what we really can’t afford is more sprawl, more parking lots, more congestion, and more summers where getting across town by car is an all-day adventure due to construction?
  • Why do we resist development that deemphasizes SOV dependency?
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Ernesto Weidenbrug’s Ghost Bike

These are, of course, complicated and nuanced challenges than require more sustained work and attention than locking up the symptoms. But complicated challenges demand complicated conversations, and usually, solving them requires collective will for change. It will require acknowledgement that a more just, safer community is a hands-on commitment. And it will require that we not allow the media or the public at large to change the subject when we are reminded by tragedy of the gravity and scope of the work.  

Streets and roads are the circulatory system of our neighborhoods and cities.  They connect us to work, school, food, church, civic engagement, recreation, and opportunity.  And their use is a right that is not reserved for one type of user over all others.  The bigger Northern Colorado gets, the more of us there are, the more urgent it becomes that we center our cities and streets around people, rather than cars.  

 

Chris J Johnson

Executive Director

Bike Fort Collins

December Letter from the Executive Director – Looking Back and Planning Ahead

First of all, I want to apologize for missing our November newsletter.

As we mentioned in the newsletter, in October we said a fond farewell to our events/volunteers/marketing/communications/development/membership/advocacy/Bike Share genius Kelly McDonnell.  Kelly was truly the heart of Bike Fort Collins over the past few years. Especially since I stepped in, with an ambitious vision that included a lot more events, a broader focus, and an upfront acknowledgement that it was gonna be a lot of work for everyone.

Kelly McDonnell

Sadly for us, but fortunately for Kelly and for the city of Boise, Boise Bicycle Project stole her away from the Choice City to lead their development efforts. It’s hard to express how thrilled we are for Kelly and how profoundly we feel her loss. Missing the monthly newsletter deadlines is just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve come to really enjoy sorting through the events and news of the month and trying to turn them into something useful to advance Bike Fort Collins’ goals and agenda. And I enjoy the feedback, and the reminder that it isn’t about promoting bikes, but about asking ourselves, and our supporters, and our community at large “how can bikes – and active transportation in general – support social, economic, and environmental sustainability in Northern Colorado?”

I started at BFC in late October of 2015. This past year has been an exercise in living outside my comfort zone. Even before joining BFC, I had a strong sense that transportation – and the way we build our cities and neighborhoods to facilitate transportation – has a profound impact on the character of our cities and the quality of our lives. Beyond just inspiring more active lifestyles, walkable and bikeable and transit oriented cities are economically vibrant cities. They are cities that put people first. Cities that concern themselves with the challenge of making it easier and safer for more kids to bike and walk to school are cities that raise generations of healthier, more community minded neighbors (and better drivers, too). Cities that make it easier to live actively make it easier for our families to age in place. A city is not healthy and safe and inclusive until it is healthy and safe and inclusive of everyone from age 8 to age 80, of every level of physical ability.

Fort Collins is in the early stages of an inevitable transition from Big Town to Small City, and with that transition comes anxiety and uncertainty. Our current practices and policies for how we build and move around are showing signs of strain: an affordability crisis, air quality problems, congestion, a surge in traffic fatalities in the county, and growing concerns about displacement and social segregation. This growth also comes with an opportunity to shape the values and character of our community for generations to come. And if history teaches us anything, we know it’s much more fruitful to plan for the future than to pine for the past.

In 2016, Bike Fort Collins continued its pioneering Safe Routes to School partnership with the City of Fort Collins, working with thousands of Poudre Schools students to encourage safe riding.

We made the leap from our old Bike Library into the world of Bike Share. After a strong inaugural year, we look forward to expanding the program and making it even more useful for local residents and guests.

We expanded our Bike Friendly Business Network to include social mixers and are asking questions like: how can we leverage the commitment and interest businesses have shown into policy and culture changes that support active transportation?

We launched the NoCo Bike Show – a monthly live talk show that brings bike riders of all varieties together to hear stories about people using bikes to transform Northern Colorado, from race stories, to new city projects, to tips on mountain biking while pregnant, and so much more.

We resurrected the legendary One Speed Open, took over as promoters of the Ride of Silence, created the Ride With Pride in conjunction with NoCo Pride, and hosted a bunch of fun social and informational events including our Pour Brothers Community Nights, Dinner & Bikes with Elly Blue of Bikenomics, The Wind in Our Hair women’s cycling documentary screening and filmmaker Q&A, Bikes & Biz Mixers, and a Wolverine Farm Pub Talk.

On the advocacy front, we were heavily influential during the 2017-2018 city budget process. Thanks to the efforts of BFC and our partners, the city continues to inch towards a more sustainable, equitable, and safer transportation system.   Funded enhancements for the next two years include Pedestrian/ADA enhancements, a Sunday Transfort pilot, the FC Bikes Low Stress Network, “All Kids Deserve Safe Routes,”  and the protected bike lane pilot among others.

We’ve also made significant inroads with Larimer County in our continued commitment to making safety and public health top priorities for future growth and current high activity areas for recreational cyclists.

Thanks to BFC’s Bike Friendly Business Development program, Fort Collins still leads the country in Bike Friendly Businesses, with 53 as of this post. Our business partnerships are critical to reaching our goals of getting more people on bikes, creating safer streets and neighborhoods, and supporting an inclusive, diverse bike culture that hears and represents the interests of an inclusive, diverse Northern Colorado.

Whats in store?

The great challenge of bike advocacy in a bike-friendly community like Fort Collins is the importance of challenging our notions of “bike culture” and who is served and, more importantly, who it leaves behind. Our platinum status as a bike-friendly city is a tremendous achievement, but it obscures deep disparities in access and mobility that our current growth trend will widen unless we prioritize equity and inclusion. As you’ve probably heard me say, if you heard me speak this year: no number of bike lanes will make our streets and neighborhoods safer and and more bike/ped friendly if our workforce can’t afford to live here and must drive further and further to get here.

In the near future we’ll be sharing details of a new BFC partnership that is near and dear to my heart. This partnership will allow us to make sure Fort Collins’ platinum bike-friendliness extends to everyone. All of our great programs and rides will keep growing, but we will regularly ask ourselves, and expect our members and partners to also ask us, themselves, and each other: how are our work, our programs, our events narrowing disparities in neighborhood safety, health, and opportunity?

We’ll keep working with the city and the county to introduce policies that steer us toward safe and sustainable streets and neighborhoods. We’ll keep working with our partners in business, human services, transportation, and clean energy to develop a coalition committed to economic, social, and environmental sustainability and justice. And we’ll keep working with our state and federal legislators to craft laws that respond to the threats to safe streets, and reward individuals, businesses, and cities for supporting sustainable transportation.

When possible, we will continue to prioritize keeping our programs and events free to attend, ride, read, so that they benefit the whole of the community.

In the meantime, the end of the year means it’s time to earnestly and humbly ask for your support and your feedback.

In this month’s newsletter you’ll find a link to a survey where you can let us know what your priorities are going forward.   What would you like to see us prioritize in 2017 and beyond?

You’ll also find a donation link. We run a pretty lean ship at BFC. This allows us to operate independently and speak freely. It allows us to respond quickly to new opportunities and challenges. But we still need your help. If you’re weighing your year-end giving options, know that BFC will stretch your contribution a long way. A contribution to BFC supports safety, health, climate change action, social sustainability, and economic vitality of NoCo. Your gift will go straight to programming and our hardworking staff who are committed to a vision of a safer, active Northern Colorado for everyone.

This has been an incredibly challenging and satisfying year for me and a big year for Bike Fort Collins. We’re so excited to keep moving forward and hope you’ll stay tuned as we have some big announcements coming up.

Sustainable means Affordable

villageonplum-110

Over the last couple of months, in my “Letter from the ED” I’ve leaned pretty heavily on a couple of surprising statistics about the relationship between public safety and city planning.

The first, in my September letter, was a traffic fatality study by the National Safety Council that connected the sharp increase in traffic fatalities in the US over the past few years with an increase in the total miles traveled by private vehicles (VMT).  The study concluded that the primary culprits in increasing VMT (and therefore in the fatality rate) are a) inadequate public transit options and b) lack of affordable housing near job centers, forcing  more and more of the workforce to live further from jobs.

The second, even more troubling report, was in my letter from October, stated bluntly that rural Americans are more likely to die a violent death than urbanites.  Why?  because traffic crashes are a greater public safety threat than violent crime- by a significant amount, it turns out.

Let’s add to that another interesting and probably surprising fact about housing.  An article from CityLab in 2013 that relies heavily on EPA studies concluded that conventional building in an urban transit oriented setting is more sustainable than green building in low density suburban settings.  Green sprawl is still sprawl, in other words.

Transportation accounts for nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions and that number is growing steadily, aligned, like traffic safety, with VMT.  It’s also true that the cost of owning and maintaining private vehicles is a disproportionate burden on low income residents even before you factor in the fact that affordability increasingly requires longer commutes.

As a city and a region, our commitment to affordable housing is paltry.  And without a serious course correction, we are facing an unsustainable future of increased sprawl,  pollution, congestion, and social segregation.

With this in mind, it seems to me imperative to support any effort to create neighborhoods that integrate affordable housing, especially those that do so in a way that encourages more responsible, medium density land use and provide incentives and proximity to sustainable transportation networks.

The Fort Collins Housing Authority has been the driving force for affordable housing in Fort Collins.  Serving thousands of residents by offering housing choice vouchers, public housing, individual rooms, and affordable housing projects.  The proposed Village at Horsetooth is one such affordable housing project.

At a recent public hearing, the Horsetooth project faced vocal opposition from a small group of neighbors citing unfounded concerns about property values and, most egregiously and deplorably, decrying the supposedly negative impact of poor kids on neighborhood schools.  Students “from non-professional households (in a classroom) bring… down the expectations of excellence,” according to one neighbor.

We believe, strongly, that there is no path to a people-first, age-friendly, bike-safe future for Fort Collins that does not include a strong commitment to affordable, inclusive, transit oriented neighborhoods, and we believe that the Village on Horsetooth  advances this goal admirably.  To that end, we will be in attendance at the project’s Planning & Zoning hearing on October 13th at 6PM at City Hall, to support this and all efforts at building a sustainable, inclusive and affordable future.

If you’re interested in joining us, below are some specific talking points provided by the FCHA. If you have questions or concerns, drop me a note at chris.johnson@bikefortcollins.org.   If you are unable to join us but want to show your support, send your letter to cfrickey@fcgov.com.

I hope to see you Thursday.

Chris J Johnson

Executive Director

Bike Fort Collins


The Purpose & Need for this Project

  • Affordable housing is a significant issue in our community.
  • There is an acute need for more affordable rentals.  Long term rentals are scarce and affordable options are extremely limited.
  • The damage and destruction of homes caused by recent years of fires and floods, combined with an already strained rental market and high home prices, has caused serious problems for the Fort Collins area.
  • The Village on Horsetooth will address this critical need with 96 new units of affordable rental housing.

 

Well-Planned Community

  • This housing community fits well with the City’s plans, policies and zoning regulations.
  • It includes a combination of 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments with a large community green space with walking paths, clubhouse, playground, and an enclosed dog run.
  • It is the first community in Fort Collins to be designed in conjunction with the Safe Routes to Schools program.

Location

  • The LMN Zoning allows for multi-family housing, and the proposed 12 units/acre development complies with the density standards.
  • The site is located within a healthy and stable neighborhood with schools, parks, retail, and services nearby.
  • Regular bus service is less than one block away.

Building Design

  • This is a high quality project that fits in well with the surrounding area.
  • Building scale, height, and density are compatible with the neighborhood.
  • The architecture reflects a traditional community with attractive amenities and features.

Affordable Housing for Lower-Income Residents

  • The Village on Horsetooth will provide mixed-income, affordable housing.
  • 100% of the units will be affordable to residents earning 60% of AMI ($46,920 for a 4-person household) or less.

Community Process

  • FCHA has exceeded the City’s requirements for community involvement.
  • FCHA reached out to neighbors well beyond the required notification area of 800 feet, electing to extend notification to nearly 3,000 feet for all meetings. This area included over 1,000 properties.
  • FCHA hosted a Neighborhood Meeting early in the process to gather feedback for the site layout and design.
  • They held a second meeting after incorporating community feedback into the design. FCHA made more than 12 revisions to the development based on neighborhood input.
  • The process has been transparent, inclusive and successful.

 

Fort Collins Housing Authority

  • FCHA will create a high-quality community, manage a well-run property, and keep their promise of supporting strong, safe neighborhoods.
  • FCHA is a responsible and reputable property owner and manager.
  • They manage more than 1,000 housing units in Fort Collins and have won awards for their excellence in design and sustainability.

 

October Letter from the ED – We Bike, We Walk, We Vote

i-bike-i-walk-i-vote-bike-to-work-day-2013

townhall2015I first got directly involved with Bike Fort Collins a little over a year ago, when, after a series of senseless, heartbreaking deaths of Northern Colorado cyclists on local roads, BFC reached out to me to help lead an emergency bike safety town hall.  In attendance were council members, traffic engineers, county road engineers, state patrol, the sheriff’s office, state senators and over 200 concerned bike riders of all backgrounds. It was heartening to see so many people, especially influential civic leaders, empowered to make changes and taking this challenge seriously.

Subsequently, I came aboard to lead BFC and make sure that we followed through on the promise of that town hall. That we continued to rally every stakeholder in NoCo to prioritize what I called at the time a public health and safety crisis.

From my first day, I was honored to be entrusted with a chance to lead this critical charge. And from my first day, I knew that sooner or later, the day would come when I would find myself arranging a vigil ride and ghost bike dedication for another Northern Colorado cyclist.


September 20th, 2016

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Jason Holden

Berthoud resident Jason Holden was descending CR 8E near Carter Lake when it appears he was clipped by a passing SUV. It knocked him off of his bike and into oncoming traffic.  He was struck and killed by a driver who stopped and called the police. The SUV left the scene and is still being sought by investigators.

On October 1st, with Jason’s friends and family, Bike Fort Collins organized another vigil, and another ghost bike dedication, for another cyclist killed on Larimer County roads.

Two weeks removed from this tragedy, there are still more questions than answers. But what we do know sounds disturbingly familiar.

 

 

 


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Jason Holden Ghost Bike Dedication, October 1 CR 8E near Carter Lake

Like Steve Studt, Ernesto Weidenbrug, and Cesar Palermo, Jason Holden appears to have been riding within his legal rights.

Like Ernesto Weidenbrug, the driver fled the scene, leaving Jason to die. Ernesto’s killer did eventually turn herself in, while Jason’s killer hasn’t been found as of this writing.

Like Steve Studt, Jason was killed by a driver who tried to pass under unsafe circumstances. Studt’s killer passed on a bridge with inadequate visibility. When an oncoming car came into view, the driver swerved back into Studt’s lane, knocking him off of his bike and running him over. Jason’s killer passed him on a fast narrow downhill stretch.

Knowing that stretch well, it seems likely to me that Jason was traveling at or near the speed limit. Knowing that he was a skilled, experienced cyclist, it’s likely he was positioned defensively in the lane, to keep a driver from trying to unsafely squeeze past him. Apparently, it wasn’t enough.

 

 


lc-traffic-safetyFatality-Trends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it alarmist to call traffic violence a crisis?

I don’t think so. Nationally, 35,000 people were killed in traffic violence in 2015 (a 7.2 percent increase).  Projections for 2016 are significantly worse.

 

For comparison, the national murder rate was 15,000 in 2015 (the lowest rate since 1966).

According to Larimer County’s own traffic safety reports, our roads see twice as many annual fatalities as the state and national averages. And according to the Larimer County Coroner’s Office, 2015 saw 39 traffic related fatalities (one quarter of all accidental deaths), compared to 7 homicides.

This disparity leads to a statistic that some people will find shocking:  Rural Americans are considerably more likely to die a violent death than urbanites.

Indeed, in our misguided fear of urban crime and pollution, too many Americans have gravitated towards very low density rural communities, which require tremendous infrastructure, generate tremendous pollution, and exact a very heavy toll on public health and safety. As a result, too much of our public spending goes into subsidizing and preserving comfort and convenience for an already resource-intensive cohort. And safety and mobility for ALL people in Larimer County takes a backseat to speed and efficiency of automobile drivers.


Now What?

It should be clear then that the challenge here, that the real obstacle to safer, healthier streets and neighborhoods, is bigger than helmets and bike lanes. We, all of us, need to admit that traffic violence is a singular threat to health and safety in Northern Colorado. Token education campaigns and better signage and pointing fingers at impaired or distracted drivers or rude cyclists isn’t going to turn the tides without a top to bottom appreciation of our collective accountability for this crisis, and our role in solving it. This is a crisis that deserves a reappraisal of our budget and policy priorities, not just for transportation, but for land use and zoning, public health, development and law enforcement priorities and training. This is a crisis that demands we ask: how can we expect drivers to respect vulnerable users when our roads don’t?

 

In Larimer County

There are many questions about what needs to change at the city, county and state levels. Bike Fort Collins has our priorities.  We want to hear yours, and we want to hear from our elected leaders too. Over the next month, between now and election day, we need your help.  What transportation, safety, development, law enforcement,  and infrastructure related questions do you want to pose to candidates for the Larimer County Board of Commissioners?  Click HERE to add your questions to our list.

 

transfort-postcard-2In Fort Collins

If you live in Fort Collins, there is still time to engage with your city council member on the importance of supporting budget offers that promote sustainable transportation. Bike Fort Collins is asking council to fund 3 offers that are currently in danger of not being funded:

67:11 – Sunday Transfort Service would help Fort Collins keep pace with peer cities in providing year round, affordable mobility to all residents.

3.12 – FC Walks would create a staff position in the city transportation planning department to promote programs and planning that encourages and enables pedestrian access and safety.

3.22 FC Bikes Enhancement would allow FC Bikes to continue to offer its current lever of programming as some grant funding expires.  Among FC Bikes great programs are Bike to Work Day, the Bike Ambassador Program, Open Streets, Bike Friendly Driver program and more. In Fort Collins, bike crash numbers have dropped over the past two years, FC Bikes great programming and education clearly contributes to that trend an deserves ongoing support.

If you’d like to ask your council member to support these offers, write them by November 1 at cityleaders@fcgov.com (be sure to include your street address) and let them know you support sustainable transportation.

 

In Loveland

CanDo Loveland and the Citizens Task Force for Biking and Walking strongly believe the City of Loveland should include the following priorities and infrastructure in its upcoming budget:
  • Add more bike racks and designated bike parking throughout town
  • Add a recreational path along BNSF, as identified in the bike and pedestrian master plan
  • Add more wayfinding throughout town (along recreational paths, to downtown, to identify popular and safe bike routes)
  • Widen and improve N. Boyd Lake, as identified in the bike and pedestrian master plan
  • Link downtown through a connection at Fairgrounds Park
  • Add a connection from the north side of town into downtown
  • A dedicated staff member for implementation and coordination of bike and pedestrian infrastructure and projects within the City of Loveland, such as a bike and pedestrian coordinator
Implementation of the City of Loveland bike and pedestrian master plan is integral to the safety of all users of the transportation network in Loveland. CTF has focused on increasing safety through engineering, infrastructure improvements and coordination of projects, as shown through the prioritization of projects and policies that are listed above.
Please contact your Loveland City Council member and urge them to support bike and pedestrian capital improvement projects as part of the 2017 Budget.
Don’t know who your Council member is?
  1. Find your City Council member here by typing in your address, hitting “Submit”, and then clicking “Create Report”.
  2. Create an email using the language (in red) between the asterisks above and anything else you would like to add. Click here for additional information and resources.
  3. Send it to your City Councilmember!

If you need further assistance, contact Kelly Haworth.


In Closing

Growth and affordability concerns make the future of Northern Colorado uncertain. We have a spectrum of outcomes.  On one hand is a compounding of sprawl and its attendant health and safety threats, along with congestion and pollution and consumption of natural areas and resources and social segregation.

On the other hand we have an opportunity to change the way we plan and build communities and cities and regions that put people first, that build complete streets, that use land responsibly, that invest in shared and sustainable mobility to curb our costly and deadly dependence on private automobiles. In short, we can build a region whose form and policies and governance prioritize safety and community over speed and convenience, and where that commitment sets an example to guide our growth.

If you’ve read this far, I imagine its because you agree that something has to change. That, like me, you’re looking forward to putting ghost bikes and vigil rides behind us. I don’t think we can honestly say that as a region, we’re on that course. But together, with one voice, we can demand that change.

Lets start now.

Chris J. Johnson

Executive Director

Bike Fort Collins