May 18 marks another year that we take a slow, silent ride through Fort Collins: reflecting, mourning, celebrating the lives that we have lost to traffic violence.
A cyclist is hit and killed in the U.S. at a rate of 21 deaths in 100 million trips. Despite this low accident rate, it seems that we all know someone who has contributed to this statistic. For us, however, it is much more than a statistic–it’s a friend, son, daughter, husband, or wife, whose life was taken too soon.
Cyclists are a rare breed; we test our limits in cold, snow, sleet, heat and hail to enjoy that euphoria that comes with getting on our saddle. We throw on our helmet, attach our lights, mirrors, reflectors: our only protection when wrestling with traffic.
Then there are those who neglect their nights, abandon their helmet, feeling invincible. Ninety nine percent of the time–helmet or no–we get home safely. Ninety-nine percent of the time it doesn’t matter if we were wearing our helmet.
As you ride in silence on May 18, reflecting on the dear lives taken too soon, think about your own life and those who would ride for you if you were lost. Wear a helmet for them Attach your lights, and your mirrors and your reflectors for them.
(This is a current view of the road approaching Tavelli Elementary in northeast Fort Collins. The grant money will create bike lanes, crosswalks and complete sidewalks.)
The City of Fort Collins Safe Routes to School Program announced this week the award of a grant that it says will make a major impact in safety and accessibility for students walking and riding to Tavelli Elementary School in Northeast Fort Collins.
Safe Routes Coordinator Nancy Nichols, along with an advisory group composed of city, school district and Bike Fort Collins representatives, assessed the infrastructure deficit at Tavelli and designated it a priority for the CDOT grant opportunity, which will be supplemented by funds from Poudre Schools.
Tavelli is situated at the northeast corner of Lemay and Miramont Drive, a mile north of Vine in northeast Fort Collins. Students coming from the south on Lemay in particular face an inhospitable, dangerous route with no sidewalks or bike lanes.
The project will provide for a separated bike path and crosswalk which are critical pieces in the city’s push towards shifting half of all local school kids getting to school via bike or on foot.
Bike Fort Collins is a proud partner in the Safe Routes to School program and congratulates Nancy Nichols and the city on funding this project.
To “take the lane” means riding right smack in the middle of a travel lane in a single file line with cars. It can seem pretty scary, but there are times when it is THE safest place to be on the road. Once you understand why it can be safer, and how to do it, you can give it a go and see just why this bike riding tip will make you feel like the Boss of the Road.
Why you should take the lane
– To make a left hand turn –
Never make a left hand turn from the right hand side of the road. As a general rule, if you wouldn’t do it in a car, then you shouldn’t do it on a bike. In a car, you get into the left most lane to make a left hand turn. The same holds true when you’re on a bike. And once you’re in that left hand turn lane, queue up with the cars. If you turn left from the right side of the left hand turn lane, then you’re encouraging motorists to slide up beside you on both the right and left, which could put you in a bit of a pinch.
If you don’t feel comfortable crossing lanes to get into the left most lane, then you’ll want to do what’s called a Copenhagen turn, which means crossing straight, turning your bike, and crossing the intersection again.
– To avoid a right hook –
A right hook is when a bicyclist to the right is going straight, but the motorist to the left is turning right. When lines cross like this, it’s the bicyclist that’s going to get the short end of the stick.
You can prevent a right hook by staying to the left hand side of a right hand turn lane, allowing enough room to your right for right turning motorists to still make their turn. This is a legal solution, but not necessarily the safest. If the motorist swings out to the left a bit while making their turn, you could get hit. So the even safer thing to do is to get into the lane to the left of the right hand turn lane. If you’re traveling straight, then getting into that through lane makes sure that no one will be crossing in front of you.
– To make yourself visible –
Motorists learn to look for oncoming vehicles in travel lanes, because that’s where the cars and trucks are that they don’t want to hit. But they don’t always think to glance a little to the side of that for travelers in a bike lane. So by taking the lane, you put yourself where motorists are looking. Then it’s more likely they’ll see you. In fact, some people refuse to ride in bike lanes and always take the lane for this reason.
If you’re in a situation where you worry that people might not see you, then take the lane.
– To encourage safe passing –
You never want a motorist to think they can pass you safely when they can’t. In order to help them make a good decision, ride in the middle of the lane through areas where you know there’s no room to pass. Though the motorist may grumble, shout a few obscenities, or honk their horn, they’ll stay behind you until it’s safe to pass. Just tell yourself that their complaints are proof that they see you. It’s better to be seen and yelled at than to be run over.
If you are riding on a lane that cannot fit the width of a full sized vehicle, a 3 foot buffer (as required by law), and you (with enough cushion on your right hand side that you’re not hitting the curb or drain grates or other obstacles) then it is not safe for a motorist to try to pass you within that lane. Even if you’re hugging the right side, there’s not enough room for them to get around you without possibly knicking you with their mirror or another part of their vehicle. So don’t let them. The further to the left you are, the more they’ll realize that if they want to pass you, they’re going to have to change lanes to do it. (Remember, motorists are legally allowed to cross a double yellow line in order to pass a bicyclist.) So if the lane is too skinny, then help motorists do the right thing by making it plain as day that they’re going to have to change lanes to pass you.
– To avoid obstacles –
If there are sticks, gravel, potholes, road signs, parked cars, or other obstacles in the bike lane, then you are legally allowed to ride in the travel lane instead. While you’re in that travel lane, ride in the center to encourage safe passing until you’re able to safely get right again.
If there are a series of obstacles, then stay in the center of the travel lane until you have passed all obstacles. Weaving in and out around obstacles increases the likelihood of getting hit.
How you should take the lane
Always change lanes while on a bicycle in the same way that you would change lanes when driving a car: Signal your intention to change lanes. Look behind you to see if anyone is approaching in the lane you want to get into. Look beside you to make sure that the way is clear. If everything looks good, then change lanes.
Once you’re in the lane, ride in the center to encourage safe passing.
Once you’re ready to get back into the bike lane, follow the same process all over again. Signal. Look beside and behind. (This time you’re more likely going to be looking for debris or other obstacles, but you never know when a motorist or bicyclist might try to shoot up past you on the right.) Then change lanes.
Speak loudly with your whole body when you make these lane changes. It helps motorists have a sense of what you’re doing, and that you’re taking this “riding a bike on the road” thing seriously. (Just as we wish all motorists would take this “driving a car on the road” thing seriously.) So don’t make a teeny little signal with your hand to indicate a turn. Get your arm out there so your intention to turn can’t be missed.
Feel like a boss
Just last week I picked up takeout food from Bann Thai on College. From there I wanted to head west toward home. I decided that the fastest way to get to Mason would be to travel from College to Mulberry, just like I would if I were in a car. So I waited until traffic had cleared, entered northbound College, and signaled a lane change to get left until I was in the left hand turn lane. I took the lane to be sure everyone could see me.
The light at Mulberry was red, so I stood over my bike with my arm out, indicating my left hand turn. (It was self evident since I was in the rightmost left hand turn lane, but it helps motorists know that I’m taking this whole “using the lane” thing seriously. It’s a way to say loud and proud that I know what I’m doing and I have every legal right to be doing it.)
When the light changed, I made the turn, stayed in the middle of the lane until Mason, and then turned right.
And despite the fact that there were motorists all around me, they could tell that I knew what I was doing. I was making my intentions at every step of the way abundantly clear. And my whole attitude made clear that I knew I had a right to the road. I didn’t have a single motorist honk at me, or yell at me, or even rev their engine at me. They were polite and drove single file behind me. And as soon as I could get somewhere a bit safer, I did. So I took the shorter route to save time, but when there was an equally good route with a better comfort level for bicyclists, I took it.
And by golly, I felt like the boss of College Avenue out there on my bike, surrounded by motorists that were treating me with respect… like I belonged. Because I did.
Meg is the author of PedalFortCollins.com, a local transportation blog that’s part of the Scoop Blog Network. She’s an active member of Bike Fort Collins and the Fort Collins Coalition for Infrastructure and she is frequently involved in transportation and urban planning events hosted by the City of Fort Collins. You can reach her at email@example.com.
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
-Susan B. Anthony
Cyclofemme is an annual ride held on Mother’s day and recognized around the world that celebrates women on bikes. It began in 2012 with 163 riders in 14 countries; by the third year, it had grown to 303 riders in 25 countries, including China, Japan, Mexico, Rwanda and Indonesia.
More than a ride that celebrates women and women on bikes, Cyclofemme embraces the spirit of empowering women be independent, fearless, and joyful. This ride organized for women by women unifies a community and allows for a stronger, louder voice that can advocate for women on bikes all year and for years to come.
Women and bikes is not a concept that’s new to Fort Collins. The Fort Collins Bike Co-Op hosts Women’s Wrenching Nights, FC Bikes has rolled out Women Ride on Wednesdays, and there’s a history of all-women teams and clubs: Team BoB, Belle Starrs, Fort Follies, and Brave New Babes. This doesn’t mean our work is done. A recent study by FC Moves revealed that on average, Fort Collins bicyclists are approximately 65% male and 35% female, a statistic that has shown no upward trend from previous years.
Fort Collins has hosted its own Cyclofemme celebrations for the past 2 years, powered by women and anyone who supports women on bikes. Keeping with tradition, we will ride again this Mother’s day, May 8. Barring snow (our fingers are crossed this year!) there will be a road ride, mountain bike ride, and a townie ride, each ending at New Belgium Brewery for celebratory libations, snacks, and high-fives. So ladies, gents, girls and boys: grab your helmet and let’s ride!
For more information on Cyclofemme, visit cyclofemme.com. For more information on Fort Collins Cyclofemme, including information on start times and locations of CycloFemme rides, go to the Event Page.
EDIT 4/19 – After speaking to the Parks Department, they wanted me to make clear that the North (yellow) route is actually not a trail and is technically private property. To that end, I want to clarify that this map is not an official city communication. Ride on private trail spurs at your own risk.
Starting Monday, April 18th , the Spring Creek Trail underpass at College Ave will be closed for several weeks (“through mid-May” according to the FCgov trail status page.)
Those who use the underpass regularly will be familiar with this closure and detour from last fall.
Important points: For Westbound traffic, you can either cross at the light Spring Park and College, or use the Crosswalk on the south side of the intersection. There is NO crosswalk at the north side of that intersection. For Eastbound you can Use the EB bike lane from spring creek and change lanes to make a left turn on to spring creek at the Remington/Spring Creek intersection, or use the College and Spring Creek crosswalk to reach Spring Creek Trail at the corner of College and Spring Creek.
[Bike Fort Collins Blog welcomes Sylvia Cranmer, long time cycling community leader and current chair of the Bicycle Advocacy Committee]
One of the great things about Fort Collins is that it offers opportunities for us average folks to have an impact and make a difference in our community. Fort Collins is on the crossroads of being a large town/small city, which keeps things cozy and manageable in terms of local involvement. Bicyclists in Fort Collins are realizing that they have a voice and can impact the decisions that make this place a safer and more enjoyable place to get around by bike. One group in particular has been influential in identifying problematic areas for bicyclists, and making suggestions to City staff for specific improvements to enhance our local bicycling experience. Bike Fort Collins (BFC) spearheaded the local RAT Rides, which are monthly group rides that bring bicyclists together to Ride Around Town (RAT) to identify and proactively promote improved riding conditions on Fort Collins streets and trails.
RAT Rides started a few years ago with members of BFC and likeminded local infrastructure enthusiasts. Occasionally members of city staff, consultants working with city staff, and even elected officials have joined the rides. According to BFC President Bruce Henderson, the first RAT ride developed out of various discussions regarding the Mason Corridor, and the riding conditions along that route. Various advocates in the bicycling community then proposed other areas they thought needed attention, and the concept blossomed and spread throughout town.
RAT Rides take place year-round, however, the schedules and routes change a bit at different times of the year. For example, during the street maintenance season (spring/summer/early fall), the monthly ride routes are planned according to the City’s street maintenance schedule. According to Henderson, “If we know there is
work planned for Shields next month, we’ll include that stretch of Shields in our next route. If they are doing asphalt overlays, it’s much easier for us to convince them to make a change in the bike lane striping at that point.”
Most rides have a common starting and ending destination, usually a pub or brewery where the group can debrief immediately following the ride. “These are advocacy rides – we are collecting comments on conditions during the ride that can be summarized afterwards. We do occasionally stop during the ride to talk and capture a few notes,” add Henderson. It’s also a great excuse for people to get out on the roads for an easy paced fun ride in a larger group, which typically makes everyone feel safer even on busier roads such as Riverside, Prospect or Horsetooth. The ride leader then formally documents the ride and sends the summary to whoever has jurisdiction over that particular area.
Interested in joining RAT Rides? During the summer the group meets on the second Thursday each month at 6:00 p.m.. The rides typically last 1 – 1 1/2 hours, averaging 10-12 mph – covering 10 miles or less. For more information, follow BFC on Facebook and watch for monthly ride announcements; sign up for the BFC newsletter by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or request to be added to the RAT Ride email list through email@example.com.
(Sylvia Cranmer is Chair of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and a member of Bike Fort Collins.)
YGR Live was developed in 2011 as “Northern Colorado’s Live Bike Talk Show”. Our goal was to put together a regular event with a diverse lineup of guests and stories. Over the years we’ve featured pro athletes, community leaders, educators, race promoters, journalists, health and fitness experts and more. All with the goal of celebrating all the diverse and wonderful facets of bike culture in NoCo, and rallying the culture together to confront issues of common concern, like traffic safety.
After an extended hiatus, YGR Live is thrilled to announce our relaunch on April 11th at the Rio Grande Agave Room at 7:00pm. Hosts Dan Porter and Chris Johnson will bring up local newsmakers to give updates and info on upcoming projects, and then welcome 3 featured guests for longer interviews and audience Q&A.
For our relaunch we’re featuring the great lineup of:
Cosmo Catalano of Cyclocosm.com to talk about the classics, give some predictions about the summer tours, and talk about racing safety in light of the uptick in incidents between racers and support vehicles,
Stacy Sebczek, Director of the Fort Collins Bike Share to talk about the evolution of the library ito the new share model and whats unique about our share, and where we’re headed.
and Dan Lionberg to talk about the history and future of NoCo’s own underground classic, the One Speed Open.
[The FC Bike Co-Op is one of Bike Fort Collins’ oldest partners in local bike community development in advocacy. We’re thrilled to include them as regular contributors to our new blog. Here’s a brief primer on the Co-op’s history and vision and programs. They’ll be updating us on a monthly basis with all things Co-op. – CJ]
The Fort Collins Bike Co-op was founded in 2003 as the Bike Against Collective in a residential garage by Rafael Cletero. Raf started Bike Against as a way to help his friends and neighbors get their bikes repaired and rideable. As word about Raf’s generosity spread, the Collective quickly outgrew its home in his garage. It moved into a commercial space and continued to be best-known within the community as a place where people could go to get help fixing their bikes.
Bike Against expanded to help keep bikes out of the local landfill by accepting donations of bikes, parts and accessories, and its Earn-a-Bike program was founded and took off almost immediately as the most visible of its programs. A few more years went by and Bike Against applied for 501c3 non-profit status. The organization became The Bicycle Cooperative of Fort Collins when it was officially incorporated. A volunteer Board of Directors was formed to address administrative concerns, and the mission statement “building community through bicycling” became the foundation for all of the Bike Co-op’s activities.
So what exactly does the Bike Co-op do? This question is raised on a pretty regular basis and the short answer is: a lot. To break it down:
We hold Open Shop hours during which customers can come and buy bikes, parts and service. Our mechanic services differ from any other shop in Northern Colorado in that when a customer brings their bike in for work, we pair the customer with a mechanic who teaches them how to do the repairs. The customer is the one wielding the tools and doing the work, and the mechanic coaches them through the process. We do this for everything from fixing flats to repacking bearing systems to drive train adjustments…and more!
We hold Work Nights for our volunteers to work on bikes and internal projects such as recycling, retail bike and Earn-A-Bike builds.
We recycle almost everything. Our landfill contributions amount to a single residential-sized garbage can of trash every two weeks. If we can’t reuse it or upcycle it, we recycle it. Local artists approach us frequently for wheels and frames and other items otherwise destined to be recycled and we happily give away nonworking parts.
Our Earn-A-Bike program is still our most popular program and is still going strong. We give out 15 applications per month for the program. EAB candidates must volunteer a number of hours in the community and, once they do, we build them a bike.
Our Women’s & LGBT Wrenching Nights are a wildly popular, fairly recent addition to our programs. Taught by female mechanics in a safe atmosphere, Women’s Wrenching Nights endeavours to get more women working on their own bikes by providing an introduction to basic bike mechanics, fit, maintenance and repairs. Participation in Women’s & LGBT Wrenching Nights is restricted to women and LGBT populations.
We work with various nonprofits and businesses throughout the Northern Colorado community to further our mission and support local bike culture, safety and education. Some of these include the Matthews House, Turn Around Bikes, Bikes for Tykes, the Committee for Sustainable Energy, Bike Fort Collins, the Overland Mountain Bike Club and many more.
We are one of the nonprofit recipients of Tour De Fat, the Labor Day bike parade and extravaganza hosted generously by New Belgium Brewing. Our project bikes are also a great resource for anyone looking to build a Tour De Fat bike, and we have seen these bikes turn into some incredible contraptions over the years.
We are always looking for volunteers, and we require absolutely no experience to volunteer with us. We need volunteers for everything from the Art Department to the steering committee to grant writing and fundraising to event coordination and staffing to Open Shop Co-op Representatives and Mechanics to work night wrenches and recycling specialists. Sign up to volunteer on our website!
At 13 years old, the Fort Collins Bike Co-op is still running strong. In fact, we recently purchased property at 1501 N. College and relocated in October 2015. We have an incredibly devoted Board of Directors and a boatload of amazingly hard-working, bike-loving volunteers. We know we wouldn’t still be here, however, without the incredible community we serve. Fort Collins is an awesome town for cycling, and that shows especially at the Bike Co-op, where our customer base is as diverse as the bikes they ride. So come on by sometime and say hello! We’d love to welcome you to the Bike Co-op. We’re here for Open Shop Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 2-5pm and Sundays 12-6pm, and you can find us on the web at http://fcbikecoop.org.
If you have any questions you’d like to email us, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to connecting with you!
Dondi is a year-round commuter cyclist, freelance writer and Co-op Representative at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op. In addition to “Building Community Through Bicycling” she enjoys road rides, rock climbing and baking treats every Sunday for the Bike Co-op’s velonteer crew. You can reach her at email@example.com.