The problem when parking is the default use of the lane

Sometimes it’s not what’s said, but what’s left unsaid, that speaks volumes.

When there’s a belief, or a behavior, that is generally consented to without the need for speech or direction, that’s a bias. It might not be the bias of every individual in a community. But it is definitely the bias of the majority.

The assumption that the edges of the road are for parking cars is just such a bias in our society. And this generally agreed upon, yet unspoken belief can lead to dangerous situations for bicyclists.

This "bike lane" widens out ahead, but around this curve, there's barely room for car parking, let alone bicycle travel.
This “bike lane” widens out ahead, but around this curve, there’s barely room for car parking, let alone bicycle travel.

There are several places in Fort Collins where the bike lane and the parking lane appear to be the same thing. There’s one white line separating moving motor traffic from the bicycles and parked cars. So is it a bike lane? Is it a parking lane? When in doubt, what do you do? You look at the signs.

As the photo above points out, the signs aren’t always that helpful. One would *think* that a bike lane sign means no parking. But it doesn’t. Unless there is a sign that specifically says “no parking,” then parking is allowed.

Did you catch that? In order to have a bike lane, you have to have a sign. But in order to park your car, there doesn’t have to be anything at all. The default function for the side of the road is parking.

To be fair, this “not really a bike lane” shown in the photo above does widen out just around that curve, leaving room for both parking and biking (even when doors are left open). But that really just adds to the obfuscation.

DSC03553

So what we have signs for isn’t always true. (Just because there’s a sign saying there’s a bike lane, doesn’t mean there’s room for a bike.) And what we don’t have signs for is OK by default. (Meaning you can pretty much park anywhere unless there’s a sign specifically saying you can’t.)

Does that make any kind of sense to you?

DSC03526

So imagine my astonishment when I noticed this sign on S. Howes Street. It’s certainly removing the ambiguity of the situation.

Unfortunately, I believe this City sanctioned use of the side of the street for both parking and bike lanes, leads to ever more confusion in the mind of the users. It’s one thing when there’s a marked bike lane that is clearly distinct from the parking lane. (Granted, sometimes they’re right smack dab in the middle of door zones. But that’s a whole ‘nother issue.) But when we use one lane to stand in for both functions, then in cases where there’s not room for both, which is primary? The function with the sign? Or the function without? Believe it or not, the function without will win every time, because that’s the use that our culture is biased towards.

DSC03525

If we want a city with a zero fatality rate, then we’ve got to remove these types of ambiguities from our local infrastructure. If a bike lane is a travel lane, then it can’t also be a parking lane.

I’m not fan of sign clutter, but we’ve got to creatively find a way to clearly mark where parking is allowed and not just where it’s not. We’ve got to move away from the biases that we’ve built into our car centric society, because our car centric society is not sustainable. And dealing with the parking vs. traveling lane issue would be a good place to start in Fort Collins.

 

megMeg 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 meg@pedalfortcollins.com.

Bicycle Counters at CSU

Colorado State University wants to take credit for all our bicyclists.  Doesn’t matter if you are heading to class or enjoying the cut through campus.  We want to know our bicycle trails are serving the needs of the campus and community.

At CSU, our Bicycle Master Plan included a recommended placement of bicycle counters to help us learn about bicycle participation, peak times, and the effect of weather events.

There are a number of methods for counting bicycles that include lasers, people with clipboards in lounge chairs to our selected Eco-Counters.  Eco-Counters can count bicycles in 15-minute intervals along with the direction the bicycle is traveling 24 hours per day.  The counter is activated when the metal in the wheel comes in proximity to an inductive loop in the concrete.  They can also count pedestrians with the use of an optical device.

Here is a graph showing the four counters on campus:

afodge

This graph depicts the days leading up to the first day of classes in the Spring Semester (2016) on January 20th.  Each count recorded daily trips (both directions) below 500 until the first day of classes when counts jump from around 1000 – 2500 per counter.

You can see the impact our students have one our trails when class is in session.  The spike in bikes, even in the depths of winter, is astounding.  You can imagine if these bicyclist had instead chosen to drive a personal vehicle the impact they would have on congestion in the streets surrounding campus.  

CSU has aspirations to purchase four more permanent counters in the next year.  We hope to pair these counts on trails with temporary counts on some of our streets.  CDOT and the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization now have counters that can be loaned out through the member municipalities.  

These counts are essential to justifying the investment in bicycle trails.  It is so difficult to argue for bicycle infrastructure with arguments like, “There are LOTS of people riding” or “I never see bikes there” when you could pull data to say, “We see 20 bikes per hour during the workday, 40 on the weekend.”  CSU is happy to share our data should it help our colleagues justify their projects.

So, ride through and be counted.  CSU hopes the community will embrace our bicycle trails to get you where you are going.  

Aaron Fodge is the Alternative Transportation Manager at Colorado State University.  He currently serves on the board of the Association for Commuter Transportation and the Pacific Intermountain Parking and Transportation Association.

Battered but Not Broken

adelaidesplash

In the fall of 2014, Adelaide Perr survived a horrific crash while out riding near Boulder.  We’re proud to host Adelaide to share her story and lessons learned at this month’s YGR Live on May 16th. Below, she shares a small piece of her recovery story.     

I was involved in a crash with a car while riding on October 18, 2014 on US36 headed into Lyons. While I laid in a sedated coma for five days, my family warned my fiance Kennett that I may never get back on a bike. Even if my injuries weren’t debilitating, the fear of being unprotected out on the road with cars and trucks careening past might be. However, many of my best memories in the year prior to the crash had been made on the bike, so when I finally woke up in intensive care I set my mind to riding again.

 

In the year leading up to the crash I’d been training as a bike racer. When my car died the prior February, Kennett and I also became full-time bike commuters. I wasn’t at fault in my crash, so the trust I had in my bike handling skills remained intact. Still, I had experienced severe facial trauma during the crash and had a feeding tube inserted into my stomach during surgery. When I was released from the hospital my nose was still splinted, my eyes swollen, my body hunched, and my brain dulled from consistent pain medication. I wasn’t able to get back on the bike until Monday, November 24th, five weeks after the crash. The destination was a gym about a half-mile from our apartment and the plan was for me to attend the strength class my friend Krista coached. Kennett came along as my second set of eyes and my bodyguard.

 

adelaide1“Kennett, I think we missed the turn! Or did we? Can we go through on the next street?” The gym was only a few turns away, but it had been so long since I’d ridden that I couldn’t even get my directions straight. So instead, we took the route I would if I’d driven. It was a slight uphill and into the wind. The hood on my gray puffy jacket got in my vision when I tried to turn my head to look behind me before making a turn. It didn’t matter much because I couldn’t turn my head enough to see traffic anyway due to my injured shoulder. So Kennett told me when to cross and made the move before me so I was confident enough to follow. He dropped me off in front of the door like a mother would with her preschooler at the school entrance. The class itself was similar to preschool in the sense that it was a way to keep me occupied and social without being difficult. I could barely do any of the moves because I still had my stomach feeding tube in, so most of it was simply stretching my legs. On the way home, I took the backroads and managed to keep my balance on the bike. Getting back on the bike may have taken over a month, but it actually coincided with my driving again. The afternoon after my first bike ride I drove to Byron Thomas’ massage therapy office and it was only my second time behind the wheel.

 

I wasn’t scared to be back on the bike when I rode to Krista’s class because I knew Kennett was watching for me. The fear didn’t exist on the way home either, because I was traveling through quiet residential streets with a designated bike lane. Instead, I felt the freedom that a bike offers. Cycling isn’t my fear, but traffic I’m still working on.

 

In my talk an YGR Live, I’ll go into detail about how I’ve learned to handle traffic since being hit.

Fort Love Brewers Jamboree: Treat yourself to craft brews & food while also supprting Fort Collins Bike Share

FLBJ-LOGO35 (1)Here in Fort Collins we are blessed with an extensive list of craft breweries that produce some of the best beer in the world. What makes our rich beer culture even better is the willingness of our brewers to share their knowledge (and creations!) with us layman folk.

 

The Loose Affiliation of Fort Collins Craft Brewers are coming together for the second year to participate in a premier beer festival. The event organizers, Tee Gula and John Yeast, with Rhymes with Paste Productions, have put a tremendous amount of thought and effort into ensuring that this isn’t just another run-of-the-mill beer festival. This will be a top quality event for brewers, food artisans, and musicians-making this a must attend event.

 

Attendees of the Fort Love Brewers Jamboree will have a chance to taste exceptional craft and small batch beers from your long standing favorite Fort Collins breweries and breweries new to the local scene. Along with this unique tasting opportunity, head brewers and beer educators will be on site sharing what it takes to make their beers and engaging in discussion with curious homebrewers and beer lovers. This festival isn’t just about the beer; each attendee will get to pair local artisan plates with featured beers.

Proceeds from Fort Love Brewers Jamboree will benefit Save the Poudre and the new Fort Collins Bike Share. Show your support for Bike Share and Fort Collins bike culture by riding your bike to the event or rolling in on a Zagster Bike Share bike.

 

Attend this premier festival and meet fellow craft beer and artisanal food lovers as you TASTE, SIP, LEARN, and SCHMOOZE your way through the Fort Collins food and beer scene.



Tickets for the Brewers Jamboree are on sale now!

VIP tickets are limited and will feature a catered meal, special beers, a tasty talk and private porta-jons.

Use the promotional code: 2016FCBIKESHARE for $5 off of your ticket.


What: Brewers Jamboree
Where: Legacy Park, Fort Collins, CO
When: Saturday May 21, 2016
TIME: VIP admission 12-5pm, with General Admission from 1-5pm
Website: http://brewersjamboree.com
Get your tickets today.

Ladies: Get on Your Bike & Ride!

BNB

Members of the Brave New Babes out on an all ladies mountain bike ride.

Photo: Betsy Farris

Fort Collins is a platinum bicycle friendly city, which means that we have a robust bike culture, miles of bike-friendly infrastructure, bike paths, and are committed to continue improving access to biking. Despite this designation and the pointed attention to improving the ease and accessibility to biking in the past 5 years, women make up just 34% of all cyclists, according to counts by FC Bikes and the Bicycle Ambassador Program, a statistic that has seen little change since in recent years

 

May is Women’s month and National Bike Month: the perfect time to to start an effort to make real change in this long stagnant statistic.

 

As a female bicyclist, I empathize with the women out there who are hesitant to make a habit of commuting on their bikes or start riding recreationally – because I’ve been there. In a world where men typically stand out as the spokespeople, the ones you see in bike shops and are your bike mechanics, it’s tough to find the right answers and resources-or even to begin to know what to ask! Even if you feel like you have the knowledge and the right equipment, finding a group to ride with that isn’t full of macho men who will certainly drop you is a daunting task. Have no fear, ladies of Fort Collins! I’m here to help you find your way!

 

The City offers Learn to Ride Classes for Women, for FREE! Never been on a bike before, or want to brush up on your skills and learn how to better maneuver through traffic? Check out this awesome class just for women.

 

Women’s & LGTBQ Wrenching Nights at the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op. Check out Dondi Barrowclough’s blog from May 4th for more information.

 

Lee’s Cyclery hosts beginner community road rides on Monday evenings. They typically depart from the Laurel St. shop at 5:30pm. Lee’s also hosts women’s nights with advice on gear, bike fit, nutrition, and riding from fellow ladies. Check their Facebook page for more information.

 

Fort Follies Group Rides: The Follies are an all women’s road biking team that host beginner and more advanced women’s rides primarily on the weekends, all year long! The beginner rides are “no drop rides” and are usually to a fun destination like High Hopes Brewery or Me Oh My Pie. Follow them on Facebook or contact them for more information on upcoming rides.

 

Brave New Babes, a beginner mountain biking group for women, by women: once a week, these ladies host a beginner, no drop mountain biking ride and go over necessities for riding the trails and general mountain biking tips and skills. Contact kellylynn.mcdonnell@gmail.com if you’re interested in riding with them or taking beginner mountain biking classes.

Get Your Wrench On!

Get Your Wrench On!

Untitled design

Are you a woman or a member of Fort Collins’ LGBTQ community? Are you sick of taking your bike to some bike shop for a tune-up or a repair? Would you like to learn about bike mechanics in a safe and comfortable atmosphere with a bunch of other women and LGBTQ community members in a workshop setting taught by women? Look no further: Women’s and LGBTQ Wrenching Nights at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op are happening on Thursday evenings!

Women’s & LGBTQ Wrenching Nights at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op combine a mechanics’ class, a workshop, and an opportunity for social networking among female and LGBTQ bicyclists. As an avid commuter and road cyclist and the Bike Co-op’s sole female employee, I am a huge fan of Women’s & LGBTQ Wrenching Nights (hereafter, WWN). Since its inception a few years ago, WWN has become the Bike Co-op’s most popular program, garnering considerable support from the greater Fort Collins community.

WWN formed as a way to provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere for women and members of the LGBTQ community to learn how to wrench on their bikes. While the Bike Co-op endeavors to always maintain a safe learning atmosphere, it’s understandable that some people might feel uncomfortable learning to wrench from the shop’s overwhelmingly male volunteer mechanics. WWN was created as a safe place for women and members of the LGBTQ community to learn wrenching in an atmosphere that fostered cooperation and safety, in workshops taught exclusively by women.

What can you look forward to during WWN? WWN loosely follows the class structure for the Bike Co-op’s mechanics’ class, so you’ll get a basic understanding of bike mechanics and maintenance, quick fixes and roadside repairs. Each Night focuses on a different component of bicycles and/or bicycling. The workshops include an introduction to basic tools and bikes parts, proper bike fit, bearing systems, wheels, drivetrain and more. Additionally, the WWN teachers will lead a fix-a-flat workshop during any Night for participants who need to learn how to patch and change a punctured tube. You can bring your bike to work on, though due to the size of WWN you may not be able to work on it that night. (If you really need a repair or bike maintenance, come to the Bike Co-op during Open Shop hours and we’ll help you there for $10/hour!) And if you don’t bring your bike don’t worry: there will be plenty for you to wrench on.

WWN is also generously supported by Horse & Dragon Brewing, so participants (over 21) can enjoy a beer while they’re wrenching. The women who run the workshops bring snacks as well. Participants who come to at least five Nights (each WWN session is 6 nights in succession) receive a free Fort Collins Bike Co-op multi-tool as well.
The last two WWN workshops of this session are on May 5 and May 12 from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. WWN is always free! Come on by and get your wrench on! Keep an eye on our Facebook page and website for announcements of future WWN sessions, and if you have any questions about WWN please email Becky Gullberg, Head WWN Instructor at becky.gullberg@gmail.com. If you have any questions about the Bike Co-op in general, please email me! (Dondi Barrowclough) at dondi@fcbikecoop.org.

May Letter from the Executive Director – Towards Smarter Law Enforcement

Executive Director Chris J Johnson

 

 

 

On the morning of Wednesday, March 11th, 12 year old Lincoln Middle School student Michael (not his real name) was riding his bike to school for the first time. Reports vary on whether he was in the bike lane or sidewalk, but he was, by all accounts, traveling against traffic. And was hit and seriously injured by an eastbound car who didn’t see him. Michael was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and treated for his injuries. He was also issued a ticket.

Last month, Bike Fort Collins unveiled our Chain Reaction program. Chain Reaction was conceived as a collaboration with local justice and law enforcement agencies to develop a more substantive and constructive approach towards curbing traffic violence in our community.

For some in the advocacy community, one of the big priorities of the movement is harsher sentencing for offenders in traffic related offenses. This is, in fact, one of the original demands of the growing “Vision Zero” movement.

As the movement has grown, a tension has been exposed between the core Vision Zero principles and advocates for transportation equity. Transportation equity is the belief that safe multimodal (walk, bike drive, public transportation) access from neighborhoods to schools and jobs and parks and healthcare and community centers should be basic rights, not amenities. These advocates point out that calls for increased “toughness” of law enforcement tend to disproportionately affect poor and minority populations. This takes many forms, from “pretextual traffic stops” to tickets that burden low income drivers and more.

Bike Fort Collins wants safer streets for all, but we believe that the role of law enforcement and the justice system must be smarter, not just tougher. We believe that in many, if not most cases, education and engagement are more constructive than incarceration or fines that sting poor residents more than others who commit the same offenses.

In the past few weeks, Fort Collins has seen at least two bike versus car crashes involving young cyclists who were found at fault and issued tickets.

Reports vary regarding the exact circumstances, but we do know that there are learning opportunities for all involved here. Regarding this as simply a failure of an individual, or even of just his parents, shrugs at responsibility all of us bear in the struggle for safer streets. We must do more. Bike Fort Collins and our Safe Routes to School partners are reminded of the stakes of our work. Our goal is to make Northern Colorado a place where every student can easily follow a safe, low stress route to school, and one where every student- and every parent- is equipped with the tools and resources to ride safely and confidently on those routes.

We are concerned about the message that ticketing 12 years olds sends.  And we hope to encourage  local law enforcement to connect students and families with the resources available to them via the Safe Routes program. We believe that this is ultimately the smartest path towards achieving the city’s goal of 50% of local students riding and walking to school. This month’s YGR Live will include a conversation with the leaders of our Safe Routes to School program. Please join us to hear what we hope to do and see how you can get involved.

Bike Fort Collins vision of “More Bikes – Safe Streets – One Voice” demands that we work with families to teach the next generation of safe, confident cyclists, to work with our public leaders to create a community that builds streets for all people, not just for cars, and that we call on our network to work together to make bikes available to any students who need them.

If you’d like to help Bike Fort Collins get Michael back on two wheels, and help us make bikes available to more local students,  I would love to hear from you at chris.johnson@bikefortcollins.org.

Chris J Johnson

Executive Director

Bike Fort Collins

 

 

 

Making your ride along Mason more comfortable

Making your ride along Mason more comfortable

Tessa Greegor, FC Bikes Program Manager, City of Fort Collins

When I first started with FC Bikes, nearly three years ago, one of the first projects I reviewed was the striping plan for Mason Street that would be implemented prior to the launch of MAX. The plans included shared lane markings (“sharrows”) between Laurel and Mountain, as they exist today. At the time, City staff explored the option

to provide dedicated bike lanes, but had concerns related to inconsistent bicycle facilities (a few blocks would not allow for bike lanes without removing parking) and how the proposed bike and transit mixing zones would work. The decision was to provide sharrows, and monitor the corridor.  

Figure 1: example of Mason St today

Picture1

 

Fast forward nearly three years, and the need for dedicated bike lanes on Mason Street is clear. Over the past couple years, observations of near misses and frequent concerns and confusion from people bicycling, driving and operating transit, have clearly demonstrated that the current Mason Street configuration is not working well for anyone.

In the next month or two, the City will install a new striping plan for Mason St., one that was considered nearly three years ago, and one that is designed to work a little better for everyone.  Bike lanes or buffered bike lanes will run the majority of the corridor, from Laurel St. to Cherry.  Where intersections are constrained, bicyclists will share the right turn lane with MAX buses guided by sharrows and signs, a design that will accommodate the way people use the street today (see

figure 1). Crossing improvements are also planned for the intersection of Mason St. and Cherry, making a seamless connection to the Poudre River Trail.

Example Mason Street cross-section:

example cross-section

Figure 2: example cross-section (varies by block)

 

 

 

Figure 3: Mason Street Proposed Intersection Design

Shared right through lane

Without moving the curbs, the Mason Street corridor faces constraints.  Street widths vary by block, and three blocks remain too narrow to fit bike lanes, parking and travel lanes.  With high demand for both parking and bike lanes, tradeoffs over the loss of either remain an ongoing discussion.  From an operational and safety standpoint, it is a priority of the City to complete bike lanes along the entire Mason Street corridor, however the project may likely be completed in phases to ensure parking impacts are adequately addressed.  

Mason Street, the City’s first multimodal Enhanced Travel Corridor, was envisioned as an extension of the Mason Trail (terminates at Laurel St.) and a connection to the Poudre River Trail just north of Cherry.  This important corridor now serves as a prominent bike share corridor, with check-out stations making it easier than ever to combine bicycling with transit.  And with new bike lanes on the way, being able to take transit, jump on a bike, and ride along the Mason Corridor will make traveling without a car to destinations like downtown Fort Collins that much more comfortable and convenient.

Stay tuned for more information, or visit fcgov.com/MasonRestriping

Overland Mountain Bike Club – Ride. Connect. Contribute.

title-image

Kenny Bearden, Administrator – Overland Mountain Bike Club

www.overlandmtb.org

 

So now that some of you know a bit more about Overland Mountain Bike Club’s background and volunteer efforts, where are we headed?   Why do we do what we do?  Well, I’m glad you asked!

Look around at the landscape and terrain we have here in Northern Colorado.  Our natural resources and scenic beauty is world-class.  But ask almost any mountain biker in town where they go to ride world-class trails; you’ll hear Fruita, Moab, Salida, Curt Gowdy, Steamboat…to name a few.  Very few actually say Fort Collins.  A recent article from a popular mountain biking source showed user ratings for the “top 300” mountain bike trails in the US.  Fort Collins had 1…Blue Sky Trail came in at 217th.  Our town is listed in the Top 10 of so many “Best Places to…” lists I’ve lost track.  Yet our highest-rated trail comes in at 217th???

Overland is committed to enhancing the mountain biking and overall soft-surface trail experience in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming.  Part of that commitment has been to hire an independent contractor to help identify opportunities and take the lead on making significant improvements to our soft-surface trail systems.  I was fortunate enough to be asked to take on this challenge.

Lory Trail Day

Our community has done and is doing a fantastic job of increasing access and connectivity of paved trails.  With the current Poudre River, Spring Creek, Mason and Power Trails, the majority of Fort Collins’ residents are a very short walk, run or bike ride from a paved trail system.  Once on these paved trails, we have direct access and connectivity to other paved trails around town.  It is a wonderful system!

Plans for expanding this into a regional system with the same access and connectivity are widely known and actively moving forward.  This is a large part of what is drawing so many people to this region.

So what happens when Fort Collins residents want a similar experience but in a more natural setting on soft-surface trails?  We get in our cars, load up our hiking gear or mountain bikes, and drive around the lake to a trailhead.  And it’s a beautiful drive!  Every time I make that drive I admire the views and appreciate being able to have this in my backyard.

For those who do this same thing on weekends throughout the summer, you know you better spend more time watching the road than the surrounding beauty.  With the rapidly increasing number of cyclists, runners, boaters and sight-seers on the roads, staying focused on driving is imperative.  So many people are now driving to the trailheads on weekends that nearly all of the parking areas are full by 9am.  In order to use the soft-surface trail systems, youTami 7A better be out of the house by 8:30…at the latest…or you don’t get to play.

So what’s the alternative to driving to these crowded trailheads or riding your mountain bike on congested roads?  How about an expanded regional soft-surface trail system that increases access to all users and improves connectivity, without having to drive to a trailhead to get it.  One that connects parks and natural areas in town. One that allows trail users to connect to the current trail systems west and south of town.  One that gives beginner riders an enjoyable experience and multiple routing options, and one that does the same for our numerous highly skilled riders.  One that makes visitors to the region and to the state want to come to Fort Collins for the quality and opportunities of our soft-surface trail system, just as much as they currently go to Fruita and other areas.

 

Overland took a big step in this direction in 2013 by formulating our Trails Vision Plan.  Our goal now and into the foreseeable future is to continue identifying and developing actionable projects in cooperation with our regional land agencies.  By doing so, we hope to have an equally accessible and connected system for soft-surface trail users as we do paved.

 

Kenny Bearden

Administrator – Overland Mountain Bike Club

www.overlandmtb.org