Cool public art in Madison
Last week, while most of you and most of the Bike Fort Collins team were here in Northern Colorado enjoying what I’m told was another great Bike to Work Day, I had the honor of joining Mayor Wade Troxell, city manager Darin Atteberry, director of planning, development and transportation Laurie Kadrich, and FC Bikes program manager Tessa Greegor in Madison, WI for the first edition of PeopleforBikes’ PlacesforBikes Conference (PFB).
The opening day consisted of a smaller Big Jump City cohort summit, with 40 or so reps from all 10 Big Jump Cities, which include New York City, Austin, Tuscon, New Orleans and Providence. Fort Collins stood out in size (smallest by a good margin) and by demographics (at almost 90%, we were the whitest city in the room), but I was most impressed by how much the cities had in common, and how our strengths and challenges complimented each other. I’m looking forward to staying connected with their efforts and learning as well as sharing our successes. Day one wrapped up with a networking dinner at the home of Trek CEO John Burke, with an AMAZING sunset view across the lake.
Subsequent days brought another 250 participants from all over the US for an engaging and well curated set of workgroups and panel discussions that broke the work ahead into 4 categories: plan, build, engage, and measure.
After a huge Slow Ride from the conference to the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, we enjoyed a cocktail reception and awards dinner, where Team Fort Collins received an award for community engagement. It turns out that even without adjusting for size, Fort Collins garnered the most feedback of any Big Jump city for its community survey. The Award also recognized all the robust and innovative community engagement tools the city, BFC and our partners have developed, from Open Streets and Project Fairs, to NoCo Bike Show and this blog, to MapNoCo and our countless community partner orgs working together to promote bicycling in NoCo.
One particularly exciting development was the release of a beta version of PeopleforBikes’ Bike Network Analysis tool. This ambitious project takes bike network data to a next level by analyzing not just the amount of low stress networks and bike infrastructure, but also the overall network connectivity (how well do those routes connect to things like work and school and groceries):
Friday morning brought a Mayor’s panel, where Mayor Troxell joined the mayors of Memphis, Fort Worth, and Milwaukee to talk about the role of bikes in addressing each city’s challenges and building towards our visions. We learned a lot, and got a chance to share how many great things are going on in Fort Collins.
And importantly, we got confirmation that the concerns that Bike Fort Collins has been rallying around- transportation equity, affordability, how to change public conversations about free parking, autocentrism, and smarter growth and land use- are challenges that all of the great bike cities are talking about and strategizing around. We all have lots to do, but there’s lot of really smart folks dedicated to making Bike Advocacy Phase 3 the most transformative era yet for active transportation.
Other notes for July
In Madison, I got word that Transfort received overwhelming pushback against its proposed realigning Route 12. If you remember, we spoke out about protecting Route 12 last month. The proposed realignment would have created a transit desert in SW Fort Collins affecting thousands of FRCC Students, people with disabilities, low income communities, and the Harmony Library. We were glad to see the city responded to the voices of concerned communities members. Thanks to everyone who reached out.
No pictures yet, but BFC was honored last week by Biz West as a Mercury 100 Business. That means we’re one of the 20 fastest growing businesses in our size class. It’s a great honor that as a nonprofit we have found a growth path without compromising our values or vision. My tenure here has been challenging and has forced me to ask tough questions of myself, our board, our community supporters, the public at large and our local leaders, and we are starting to explore those questions in a way I’m proud of. We can, of course, always use your support to keep the pedals turning.
July 15th brings the second edition of the 2nd annual Ride with Pride, our Northern Colorado Pride Fest Weekend social ride. Last year we had a great lowkey ride and made lots of new friends. This year we’re hoping for more of the same. Ride leaves from the Pavillion at Fossil Creek Park at 9:00 AM Saturday.
The MapNoCo project is starting to gather a little steam, but we still need you, the bike-faithful, to help out: check out the site and add your neighborhood, sidewalks, bike lanes, hazards, etc. This is a long term project, so its good to get a baseline now to watch progress over time. Please consider a share on your nextdoor groups, community orgs, churches, etc. This program has the potential to have a big impact on transportation and development policy in the future but it needs your feedback. Neighborhood level data matters!
We continue to be concerned by City Council’s direction to staff to scale back the Cityplan process. In a time when all of the significant challenges to our continued health and prosperity (from affordability to parking to congestion to carbon emissions to health equity to smart growth) are connected to land use, transportation and transit planning, we have big questions about council backing away from the commitment it made during the budget process to engage in a robust plan update with the goal of integrating land use, transportation and transit plan in to one process, address the huge cultural and technological changes since the last plan update, and commit to prioritizing a more equitable, inclusive public process to define community priorities. You can let council know that we need a real plan update. With all of the cultural, growth and technology changes in motion right now, and our next crack at an update likely a decade away or more, we cannot afford to rollback long term planning if we want to continue to thrive.
Chris J Johnson