Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Teach Your Child to Balance first, Then to Balance and Pedal

This is a great way to teach your child to ride a bike without training wheels. 

The ABC Quick Check is an Important Pre-Ride Safety Check

If you are in the habit of riding every day you do this check automatically as you ride.  But if you don't ride daily, run down the ABC checklist before you ride to be sure you have air, brakes and to see that your drive train (chain, crank and cassette) are all properly working. 

Before you start - do you know the parts of a racing bike?  Answers are at the bottom of this post.

Do you have a routine to check your bike for mechanical safety? The ABC Quick Check of your bike’s fitness should be followed before each ride. Timely bicycle maintenance can prevent a serious crash.

A is for Air, Check tire pressure
Tires should be inflated to the rated air pressure noted on the sidewall (pounds/ square inch). Check inflation with a tire pressure gauge. While checking the pressure take a moment to check for damage to the sidewalls and/or tread. Damage to the sidewall is common if the brakes are not adjusted properly. If the tire casing is showing through the tire tread, the tire should be replaced.

B is for Brakes, Check the brakes for:
Pad Wear and Adjustment by visually checking the brake pad. If there is less than 1/8” of rubber showing at any place, replace the brake pad. Make certain that the pads are parallel to and aligned with the side of the rim when applied. Cable and housing - Watch to make sure the cables travel smoothly and the cables are not frayed. Frayed cables should be replaced. If the cables stick, apply lubrication at the ends of the housing and work it in by applying the brakes until it feels smoother.

C is for Cranks, Check the Cranks
When you do this check, you are checking the bottom bracket, the crank arms and chainrings. To do this check, take the left and right crank arms in your hands and attempt to move them sideways. If both move, you have a loose or worn bottom bracket. If only one moves, the individual crank arm is loose and must be secured. Never ride with a loose crank arm.

Quick is for Quick Releases
Your bike may have quick release (QR) levers holding the wheels to the bicycle. QRs feature a lever on one side and a nut on the other. Check to ensure that the wheels are clamped securely in the drop-outs before each ride. To clamp the quick release, first pull the lever open. Make sure the wheel is firmly in the drop-out (the interior of the fork end in front or frame in the rear.) Open and close the QR lever with your left hand while gradually tightening the adjusting nut with your right hand in a clockwise direction. Tighten the nut until you feel resistance on the lever at the point when the lever is parallel to the hub. Grip the fork and use the palm of your hand to close the QR lever. Always lift the lever up first to close it, never just rotate or spin it closed.

Check is for a brief, slow ride to check that your shifting and everything else is working properly.

Many items of the ABC Quick Check can be accomplished visually; others require a brief minute to physically check. If you determine that adjustments are necessary and beyond your ability, enlist the help of a mechanic at your local bike shop. There are additional bicycle maintenance issues that must be addressed on a weekly, monthly or annual basis to keep your bike in top fitness. These include lubricating the chain and checking that the headset is properly adjusted. It is also a good idea to become attuned to mechanical abnormalities that may happen while riding, such as rattles, soft tires or looseness in your bike’s components, such as grips, pedals or bolts.

Parts of the Bike Identified

1.    Saddle
2.    Seat post
3.    Seat stay
4.    Brake
5.    Rear derailleur
6.    Chain stay
7.    Chain
8.    Cranks
9.    Pedal
10.    Front derailleur
11.    Seat tube
12.    Down tube
13.    Top tube
14.    Stem
15.    Headset
16.    STI dual function brake and shift lever
17.    Fork
18.    Wheel rim
19.    Tire
20.    Tire valve

The ABC checklist is modified from the League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 book.

Take the online Traffic Skills 101 course and test free here:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Avoiding the Door Zone: How Far to Ride Away from Parked Cars

 This video features Preston Tyree, Education Director at the League of American Bicyclists, at Colorado State University demonstrating how far we need to ride from parked cars. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Traffic Signs 2 - More Resources for Kids to Make a Traffic Rules Book

See the post just below this for ideas on how to have your kids make a rule book for walking and riding in traffic.

Ride with Traffic - Have your Kids Make a Book!

Younger children understand rules.  Have your K through 3rd graders make their own book about rules for bicycling and walking.  You can print these signs out and have them cut and paste, then draw or write the rule for each sign. Two 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheets of paper folded twice and cut will form a 16 page booklet.  Use more sheets of paper as necessary or fold them only once - five sheets make 10 pages.  But you know these tricks!

The point is, have your kids "own" these concepts:

Go with the flow:  no wrong way riding
Yield to Pedestrians
Stop at stop signs
Watch for red lights
Watch for slippery spots on the road
Watch out for railroad tracks

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bicycling at Night

You need a front light and at least a rear reflector and reflectors to the side visible for 600 feet to be legal at night.  I use 3 blinky lights in the rear and a very bright front light.  But there are other features that really help you to be visible at night.  They are:

1) A retro-reflexive bead on your tire.  I use Schwalbe Marathon tires on my winter commuter bike.  They have a 3/8 inch reflexive bead that really stands out as you see by the photo below.

2) Never mind the reflexive striping on my jacket.  Although it helps, these photos were taken with a flash, hence the bright reflection.  When you are riding in urban areas at night most cars have their low beam lights on so the reflexive tape won't show so much.  But reflexive material below your saddle is quite visible.  The photo below shows just how important it is to have pedal reflectors and pant straps that are reflective.  In fact, these two items are probably twice as important as the reflective tape on the jacket.  As I pedal, the reflectors on my feet and legs bob up and down and scream out to any car coming up behind me as long as they have their lights on!
 The jacket is a bomber jacket from Alert Shirts.  $44.95 on sale.  Check them out at this link

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Portland Pushes the Envelope for Bicycling: Bike Boulevards Become Greenways

 This is a great new video from by Clarence Eckerson, Jr.  that says everything about how, if we can't create separated bikeways or cycle tracks, let's make friendly bicycle streets or "greenways," out of our neighborhood streets so bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, skate boarders, and everyone else can enjoy them without the automobile dominating everything.   That is what Portland is doing as a part of their campaign to achieve 25% bicycle trips.   Simple traffic calming techniques, like speed bumps, and even simpler ideas like "changing the orientation of nineteen stop signs" on NE Going St. in Portland to facilitate the flow of bicycles seems like a no-brainer.  Surely we can do things like this in Fort Collins.

Portland's Bike Boulevards Become Neighborhood Greenways from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Cyclists Eye View

This is a good video for adults, high schoolers and even middle school kids.  The League of American Bicyclists packages this film on its DVD for League Cycling Instructors and I've used it in teaching brief introductory classes to Drivers Ed Instructors on "how to drive around bicyclists."

Produced by the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition and the City of Long Beach, Featuring League Cycling Instructor, Chris Quint from Long Beach.  

NHTSA's Ride Smart, It's Time to Start

This is an earlier version of the NHTSA video on helmet use that we used in Spring 2010 for many of the Snap 'n Strap Helmet Programs for 3rd graders in Fort Collins, Colorado.  The video is good for k - 5th grade.  Used with an egg or melon drop in a helmet the kids get a kick out of this. 

Overview of Bicycle Crash Data and Why We Should Teach Bicycle Safety to Kids

Below is an overview of the nature and severity of bicycle injuries among children and the value of helmet use for children.  This "overview" is the preface to a comprehensive survey of thirty bicycle safety training programs around the U.S. undertaken in 1998 by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle.  The overview, posted below, provides an excellent survey of a full range of first generation bicycle safety programs.  Many of these programs have evolved in 2010 to become state-of-the-art training programs across the U.S.  I've included links to just a few here:

Effective Cycling (League of American Bicyclists):  now "Smart Cycling" bicycle education program
Travis County (TX) Super Cyclist Program:  Now Texas Super Cylcist Program Statewide in Texas

The following post is from  
Training Programs for Bicycle Safety
September 3, 1998
by the 
Washington Traffic Safety Commission
Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center
Authors are Frederick P. Rivara, M.D., M.P.H. and  Jane Metrik, B.S.


Each year approximately 800 bicyclists are killed and as many as 500,000 require emergency room care for injuries. More than one third of all bicyclist deaths occur among youth ages five to 20, and 41% of non-fatal injuries occur to children under the age of 15 years (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1997). Nationally, bicyclists ages 14 and under are at five times greater risk for injury than older cyclists (NHTSA, State Legislative Fact Sheet, 1998). Fatality rates (per million population) for ages 10 to 15 were the highest at 6.46, followed by ages 5 to 9 at 4.58. Similarly with injury rates, children 10 to 15 years old are by far the most vulnerable age category of all age groups (Fatality Analysis Reporting System, NHTSA, 1996). In recent years, injuries to older teens and young adults have accounted for a larger portion of the total. The proportion of pedalcyclists between the ages 25 to 64 involved in crashes that resulted in fatalities was nearly twice as high in 1996 as in 1986 (46% and 25%, respectively).

Washington State was estimated to have 712 total traffic fatalities in 1996, which  included 14 (2%) pedalcyclist fatalities (Fatality Analysis Reporting System, NHTSA, 1996). In Washington state, there are approximately 1700 police reported bicycle injuries involving collisions with motorists each year. Over 60 percent of these injuries involve
bicyclists who are 15 years or older. Bicycle injuries are nearly as frequent in the state as pedestrian injuries.

While the majority of bicycle injuries do not involve motor vehicles (MV), collision with vehicles markedly increases the likelihood of serious injury. In the largest study of bicycle injuries conducted to date, investigators at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HIPRC) found that MV accounted for 17 percent of all bicycle related
injuries, but increased the likelihood of severe injury by nine fold (Thompson et al,  1996).

Prevention of bicycle injuries can be approached through the use of bicycle helmets, educational programs to improve riding behavior and safety, educational programs aimed at motor vehicle drivers, and environmental changes to decrease the likelihood of bicycle-motor vehicle collisions.


Head injuries account for one-third of emergency room visits, two-thirds of hospitalizations, and three-fourths of deaths involving bicycles. Helmets have been shown to be extremely effective in decreasing the  risk of head injuries. Rigorous studies indicate that they reduce the risk of head injuries by 85%, and brain injuries by 88% (Thompson, Rivara, and Thompson, 1989). All types of helmets appear to be effective, and they appear to work as well in collisions which involve motor vehicles as they do in falls or other crashes without MV involvement. They work at all ages. In addition, they decrease the risk of injuries to the upper and mid-face by as much as two-thirds.

Although helmets have been determined to be the single most effective way of reducing head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes, only 18 percent of all bicyclists wear bicycle helmets (Traffic Safety Fact Sheet, NHTSA,1998). Thus, there is a need for an education program that will increase the knowledge about helmet use and  effectiveness. The program developed by the HIPRC has been successful in increasing helmet use from 2% in 1986 to over 50% in 1996. However, use is low among teens and may have decreased in all age groups in the last 2 years.

Other community based bicycle helmet programs have been successful. A common thread to all of them is that they are community-wide, multi-faceted and long term. Nevertheless, many of these educational programs appear to reach a plateau in their effect at about 50% helmet use. Another type of intervention, not mutually exclusive with educational programs, is legislation. NHTSA (1997, p.2) maintains that, “...the enactment of laws requiring the use of bicycle helmets, along with education and visible enforcement, is likely to be the most promising way to increase bicycle helmet usage.” Unfortunately, attempts at getting legislation passed in the state have been unsuccessful over the last 5 years.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bicycle Safety New York Style - How Wrong Way Riding Works in NYC

 Middle Schoolers love this video of a wrong-way rider in New York City.  So it's a great way to grab their attention for a discussion of what wrong way riding means for rules of the road.  (It is also a great example of extreme restraint in what might have been an opportunity for bike on pedestrian or pedestrian on bike rage).

Some kids won't automatically process what happened here.  So walk them through this after they've watched the video a couple of times.

1)  Why was the bike messenger riding down the street the wrong way?  (Because he can?  Because it's NYC?  Because the cops can't be bothered to stop him? Because motorists make way, etc.
2) Why didn't the pedestrian look left, then right, then left before crossing?  Because it was a one way street and traffic was coming only from the right (so he thought).   Just the reason why you don't want to ride your bike down the street the wrong way - motorists aren't used to looking for vehicular traffic coming from the left.   
3) From here move into general rules of the road.  Video number 4 (posted in this blog with a complete set of videos) "Ride with The Flow of Traffic"does a great job of following up on this with any age rider.  For the complete list of videos click here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

NHTSA Bike Safe, Bike Smart Film for Middle School Age (9 Minutes)

 This is a great film for middle school students and even 4th and 5th graders. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Become a Fort Collins Master Cyclist!

Become a certified “Smart Cyclist”

Volunteer to Teach Fort Collins’ Youth 
Smart Cycling Skills

Fort Collins’ Master Cyclists are experienced cyclists with a passion for “smart” and “safe” cycling.  They want to share that passion with the community.  Smart cycling is vehicular cycling, also known as “utility cycling” for those who believe that bicycles are a valid form of transportation, especially for short trips to work, to run errands and for recreation.  Above all Master Cyclists share their passion through teaching others, speaking to groups, and conducting youth skills bicycle workshops. 

Fort Collins’ Master Cyclist program was started by the Bike Co-op in conjunction with the City’s Safe Routes to School Program.  The ultimate goal of the Master Cyclist program is to help Fort Collins’ PE teachers teach smart cycling skills to school children, their parents and teachers.

As a Master Cyclist you will undergo a state-of-the-art training developed by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB).  Instruction is conducted both online and locally by League Certified Instructors (LCIs).  Upon completion of the program you will be certified to conduct youth skills courses (“bike rodeos”) and to teach cycling skills to children under 10 and those 10 to 14 years old.

The training program is FREE for those who agree to volunteer with the Safe Routes to School Program.  You need only provide your bicycle, helmet, gloves and a water bottle.

This training program is the same program that local PE teachers, after school program providers, wellness coordinators and parent volunteers will be taking.

Master Cyclists learn:
   1. The principles of vehicular cycling
         1. Where to ride on the road to be safest and most visible
         2. How to “drive your bike” like a car
         3. The correct use of bike lanes and sidewalks
         4. Rules of the Road

   2. Essentials of riding for beginners, including
         1. Correct procedures for starting, stopping, mounting and dismounting
         2. Straight line riding
         3. Scanning, signaling, merging and turning
   3. Selection and use of appropriate equipment
         1. Bicycle type, size and proper fit
         2. Helmet use and the importance of helmets
         3. “ABC Quick Check:” bike maintenance and diagnostics
         4. Efficient cycling: where bike fit, maintenance, and skills come together
   4. Teaching cycling skills to children under 10 (and the importance of reaching their parents)
   5. Teaching cycling skills to children 10 to 14
         1. How crashes happen and how to avoid them
         2. The law as it relates to bicycles and more rules of the road
         3. Hazard avoidance
   6. Laying out a bicycle skills course (“bike rodeo”) and conducting youth skills classes
   7. Practice:
         1. On the road
         2. On the trail
   8. Teaching techniques and bicycle field trips

 Training for Master Cyclists involves the following steps:
1. Traffic Skills 101 – an online course offered by the League of the American Bicyclists.  You can take this course at  There is no charge for the course.  This self-paced course provides the theoretical basis for most of the points mentioned above and takes 3-4 hours.

2. On-the-bike follow-up with a local League Cycling Instructor offers:
         1. Parking lot drills and basic handling skills
         2. Road rides teach lane positioning, speed positioning and offer practical examples of these.
         3. Special needs of children under and over 10 years of age
         4. Design and layout of a youth skills course (bike rodeo)
   3. Once you’ve completed the above you are a Master Cyclist “in training.
  • Participate in two youth skills courses in the Safe Routes to School program and you have completed your Master Cyclist training. 
  • You receive your Bicycling 123 Youth Skills Certificate from the League of American Bicyclists. 
Once you have completed steps one and two above you will have completed the Traffic Skills 101 class of the League of American Bicyclists.  This is a prerequisite course for anyone wishing to go on to achieve their League Cycling Instructor (LCI) certification.   LCI certification is offered at weekend seminars around the country several times each year.  You can read more about LCI certification and look for seminars that have been scheduled here:

Safe Routes to School – Teaching our Children Smart Cycling Skills

Master Cyclists are a critical component of making Fort Collins a safe bicycling community.   As a participant in this program you will be encouraged to volunteer to help local schools offer bike skills classes as a part of PE classes, after school programs, and weekend events.  Classes will be coordinated through a coalition of local community groups, including The Bike Co-op, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Education Coalition (BPEC), Poudre School District, and the City’s Safe Routes to school Program.

Time Commitment: Mandatory training of approximately ten hours plus commitment to assist with at least two school events within twelve months.


    * Must be sixteen years or older
    * Must be an experienced cyclist able to demonstrate mastery of the skills and concepts in the class
    * Must pass a background check to work in Poudre Schools


    * Assist with two skills classes within twelve months of completing the program
    * Regularly work with program coordinator’s and report volunteer hours logged


    * Become a smarter and safer cyclist
    * Help our children become safe cyclists
    * Meet people with similar interests
    * Be a part of making Fort Collins a friendlier and safer bicycle community
    * Take pride in knowing you are helping Fort Collins to become one of the top bicycle communities in the US (even more than it is!)
2. E-mail your final score from this course to (cut and paste the page results with your name into your e-mail).
3. We will advise you of on-the-bike follow up classes this winter as they are scheduled.

Information: Rick Price, Ph.D., Safe Cycling Coordinator, Fort Collins Bike Co-op;, (970-310-5238).

Bicycle Safety Videos on YouTube for All Ages

Pueblo, Colorado's Safe Routes to School program has produced a series of ten videos for all ages demonstrating bicycle safety for school kids.  The series was produced under the direction of League Cycling Instructor Kim Arline.

Topics include:

1.   Bicycle Safety: What is a Bike Train?
2.   Wear a properly fitting helmet
3.   Ride a Safe Bike
4.   Bicycle Safety:  Be Visible
5.   Bicycle Safety: Ride With the flow of traffic
6.   Bicycle Safety: Ride Predictably
7.   Bicycle Safety: Sharing the road
8.   Sharing Multi-use Trails
9.   Walking/Biking Safety: Stay Alert of your Surroundings
10. Finding a route

You can view these on You Tube. 

 The videos were produced with a Safe Routes to School Education and Encouragement grant.   They play regularly on the Pueblo County and Pueblo City Public Access Channels.  DVD copies are available.
Visit Pueblo Active Community Environments (P.A.C.E.) for details.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Turn Signals for Bicycles

You are welcome to download or print this small poster for use in your classroom.

Illustration from the 2006 Oregon Bicycle Manual

Bicycle Helmets are Required in California and 20 Other States

 This post has posters for use by teachers in school to show proper fit for helmets. 

Safe Kids Larimer County Bicycle Helmet Poster

Safe Kids Larimer County Helmet Poster -

View this poster in Spanish   Helmet Handout in Spanish

The following link takes you to a full color, two-page poster used in California to promote mandatory use of bicycle helmets by those under 18. Note, this poster is a large file so be patient!

California Bike Helmet Poster (Mandatory Helmets were Rejected by the Colorado State Senate in 2010)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Keep Your Guard Up -Especially in a Bike Lane

First published in The Coloradoan, Nov. 1, 2010
by Rick Price, Ph.D.

Bike lanes serve a useful purpose in encouraging new cyclists to take up cycling and in making many of us feel comfortable bicycling in traffic.

They can give cyclists a false sense of security, though. On narrow streets with parked cars, bike lanes often invite cyclists to ride in the "door zone" where a car door might open unexpectedly. This happens on Mason and Howes streets in Fort Collins. On those streets, I ride just to the left of the bike lane to avoid the door hazard. On Mountain Avenue or Remington Street, however, the bike lanes are wide enough to ride in most of the time. There, I ride just inside the bike lane and am still far from car doors.

Novice cyclists often think, incorrectly, that they can use a bike lane for travel in either direction. These novices don't understand the danger with wrong-way riding. Drivers entering a street across a bike lane aren't used to looking to the right for bikes. This, in part, makes wrong-way riding the single biggest cause of  car/bike crashes nationally.

Right-turning motorists are another problem with bike lanes. Motorists violate traffic laws when they turn across a bike lane since the law states clearly that "both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway." This means that as a motorist you should merge into the bike lane and make your turn from there after yielding to any bicyclists in the lane just as you would yield and merge right into a right-turn lane before making a turn.

Photos:  The top photo shows a bike lane on South College in Fort Collins where motorists are invited to cross the bike lane with dashed lines to get into the right turn lane.  The bottom photo shows a situation on Laurel Street in Fort Collins.  Here the bike lane all of a sudden jumps left eight feet putting the cyclist in the right turn lane unwittingly.  The lack of dashed lines delineating where motorists should cross the bike lane is confusing for both cyclists and motorists on Laurel St. on the north side of the Colorado State University campus. 

Having a car use a bike lane as a turning lane contradicts what most people believe to be correct, including cyclists, who think that the bike lane is for their exclusive use. It is, most of the time, but not in the case of right-turning motorists.

So what should cyclists do when confronted with a right-turning motorist in "their" lane? Since cyclists are not required to ride in the bike lane, the safe behavior is to either stop or merge left into the travel lane to continue straight through the intersection. This is a little dance that cyclists and motorists must do as they negotiate bike lanes.

LaPorte Avenue will soon go on a "road diet," reducing it from four to two travel lanes. Bike lanes will be added as will a center left-turn lane. Transportation Board members asked if the bike lanes would be striped with dashed lines for right-turning cars. The answer was no, but board members suggested that the lines delineating bike lanes should be dashed where cyclists can expect right-turning vehicles to cross their path. This offers a warning to cyclists that cars may enter the bike lane here.

So get out and ride, but don't let your guard down just because you are in a bike lane.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mulberry Pool will Stay Open if We Pass Item 2B on the Ballot Tuesday!

City Council Member David Roy sent the following e-mail to me Thursday evening, Oct. 28, 2010

This little girl just found out that Mulberry Pool will stay open IF referred item 2B to increase the Fort Collins City sales tax passes Tuesday, Nov. 2nd! 

Good evening;

There are 5 full days to go before the Fort Collins City Council election on November 2nd.  I am sending this e-mail to urge those of you who may not have made up your mind yet about supporting 2B to do so; I am sending this e-mail to urge you to do what I am doing, and send a message to folks, reminding them to vote, and to support 2B.

I have been on the Fort Collins City Council for 8 years and 3 months - it has been a privilege.  But during that time, I have been a party to cutting 24 million dollars from our budget, and having to choose to eliminate 150 positions from the City of Fort Collins organization.

As City Council gets ready to vote for the 2011 and 2012 budgets, we have in front of us another 4.5 million in cuts for 2011, and 5.1 million in cuts for 2012, and at least another 50 positions eliminated.  2B is a way to stem these cuts in services, services that add to the basic quality of life in Fort Collins. 2B supports Police, Fire, Parks, and other items that differentiate Fort Collins from so many other communities in this country.

The attachment is the soapbox I wrote in support of 2B, and the link is to the Keep Fort Collins Great! web-site.

A handful of votes could make the difference in this campaign - and those votes just might come from people you know - heck, 1 of them could be yours.

In five months, I will be off of the City Council - but Mary Jo and I are planning on living here the rest of our lives.  Please join me in supporting 2B, and in doing that something extra that moves the needle, makes success possible, and keeps Fort Collins great.

David Roy

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vote Yes on 2A, 3A and 3B for our Kids and to Make Bicycling Safer for Everyone

Published in the Coloradoan Oct. 18, 2010

Kids learn to ride bicycles through practice and over time they learn good habits.  But if they ride little or aren’t allowed to ride, they don’t develop those habits.  We see them, then, as college students, running stop signs, riding off the sidewalk into traffic and riding the wrong way down the street.  

It is time to help our children develop smart cycling habits, especially in Fort Collins.  With that goal in mind the Bike Co-op is launching an effort this month to educate every school child from kindergarten through 8th grade in Poudre School District (PSD) in the basics of bicycle safety.  The program will unfold over the next three years but it begins this fall with at least four schools and a goal to train every PE teacher in Poudre School District to become a bicycle and pedestrian safety skills instructor.

This is very different from other programs in our community to date.  This program aims to create a corps of bicycle youth skills instructors in Fort Collins that can sustain a bike safety education program over time.  It’s about capacity building, human resource development and self-sufficiency. 

We need your help on this project.   We need parents and Parent Teacher Organizations to get involved.  And we need business partners interested in helping with both monetary donations (for helmets, bikes, and more) and in providing volunteers who can give us a little time to learn the basic skills necessary to teach kids safe cycling. 

If you are interested in helping with this project please contact the Bike Co-op today either through PSD’s “Share It” volunteer web site or by writing    Learn more about this program at brown-bag lunch meetings conducted by the Bike Co-op at noon on Thursday, Oct. 21st at The Group, 2803 East Harmony and Tuesday, Oct. 26th in the Community Room at Home State Bank, 303 East Mountain Ave.  in Old Town.

There’s one more way you can help.  Money Magazine dropped Fort Collins from number two to number six as a desirable place to locate a business this year because Poudre School District eliminated 139 teacher positions.  We’ve seen this with our safe cycling program through PE teachers who have been reduced to 40% or even 20% full time. 

So we need your help in voting to restore funding to our schools with a yes vote on issues 3A and 3B.  This will allow the District to maintain existing schools, close or consolidate those that are ineffective, and replace teachers that have been either released or placed on reduced teaching loads.  

Also on your ballot is referred initiative 2B which adopts the first City sales tax increase for basic services since 1982.  With this modest increase of our sales tax we are hopeful that the City might fund the bicycle safety education program that is currently being written.   As the saying goes, “it takes a village . . . “

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fort Collins Bike Library History: Bike Library Proposal Oct. 1, 2007

The archives reveal the original Bike Library Proposal written by Rick Price, President of Bike Fort Collins on Oct. 1, 2007.  This is pretty interesting for the vision it reveals.
Purpose:  Community bike programs, also known as “bicycle libraries”, lend bicycles out for the short, medium and long term at little or no cost to community members and visitors who might otherwise utilize an automobile.  Our primary goal is to reduce vehicle miles traveled, traffic congestion, and improve air quality in Fort Collins by offering a free, easy to use bicycle library program for daily trips in Fort Collins.

How it works:  It’s similar to a regular City library, but instead of checking out books, you check out a bike.  Bicycle libraries are easy to locate and become a member.  A person interested in participating in the bicycle library can sign up at any bicycle library station.  To become a member of the bicycle library all you need is one form of identification, like a driver’s license, state ID, passport, or green card.  After the member’s information is recorded to the bicycle library database, they sign a physical one-time insurance waiver.  After which, members are able to check out a bike for as short as an hour or for as long as one week at a time.  Members can borrow or return the bike at any of the bicycle library stations throughout Fort Collins. 

The bicycle comes fully equipped with bike lights, a lock, basket, and snap on fenders in the event of inclement weather.  Should the bicycle encounter any mechanical difficulties beyond a flat tire, an emergency phone number will be provided to aid the bicycle library member. 

Fort Collins Bicycle Library Administration:  The Bicycle Library program will be administered by (Friends of the Fort Collins Bicycle Program, Inc.), a local bicycle advocacy group dedicated to implementing the Fort Collins Bicycle Program Plan.  BFC will administer the program website, bike maintenance, marketing and promotion.  Program budget and monetary appropriation will be regulated and monitored by the City of Fort Collins Transportation Planning Department.

Background:  The Bicycle Library Program has precedents in Fort Collins with the “Freewheels” Bicycle Library administered by the City’s Smart Trips program from 2003 to 2006The Freewheels program was eliminated when the entire Smart Trips program ceased 2005. 

As of last year, the Colorado State University student-run “RamWheels” program developed a small scale bicycle library program with an inventory of twelve bicycles. Both of the above programs set precedents for existing and past community bike programs.  The Choice City Bike Library Program proposed here will build on these precedents with the following differences:

1)     Unlike Freewheels, which was administered by City of Fort Collins employees, the Choice City Bicycle Library will be administered by the citizens’ group,  BFC will be able to address problems encountered by Smart Trips, such as, available staff to track and maintain the fleet of bicycles. 

2)     The Choice City Bicycle Library will cooperate with “RamWheels”, providing bicycles as needed, and assisting to inventory, deploy, and repair bicycles.  The merging of both programs is highly likely in the future.

Website Functions:  Each bicycle library station is equipped with an internet fed computer monitor.  The universal website: ( allows an “administrator” at each station to record the member’s information and to check out or return a bicycle.  Bicycles can be tracked via website and will offer details on which member has which bicycle.  Library members can also access the website to find out if bicycles are available at specific stations and will have the option of reserving a bicycle for future use.  This web based reporting mechanism will also make it easy to track overall “loans” when it comes to reporting the program participation rates. 

Bike Maintenance and Emergency Rescue:  The Fort Collins Bike Coop, an organized, volunteer driven cadre of bicycle mechanics has officially joined forces with  This group will be the backbone of emergency response system as well as keep track and maintain the fleet of bicycle library bicycles. 

Bicycle Library Stations: Library stations will be located at local businesses, Colorado State University, City transit centers and parking facilities, traditional libraries, local hotels, the Colorado Welcome Center, and the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Target demographics and scenarios:

  1. Employees of Large Businesses:  employees of local businesses who need to do local errands around town will have access to specific “employee bikes.”
  2. Visitors to Fort Collins:  Instead of renting a vehicle, visitors will have the option of burrowing a bicycle for the duration of their stay on Fort Collins.  Local hotels such as the Marriot, Hilton, and Armstrong hotels will have the capability of checking out bicycles for visitor use.
  3. CSU Conferences and Students:  Thousands of visitors attend conferences at CSU each year.  In cooperation with the student run “RamWheels” program, visitors and students will be able to utilize bicycles for transportation in Fort Collins.
  4. Regional Commuters:  This gives Park n’ Ride another meaning.  Commuters who work in Fort Collins, but live elsewhere can park vehicles on the edges of the City and use bicycles for local transportation to and from workplaces. 
  5. Everyday Citizens:  Any Fort Collins citizen can burrow a bicycle for transportation throughout Fort Collins.  This will work especially well for financially constrained citizens. 

Program Marketing Techniques:  It will be impossible not hear of the bicycle library program.  Apart from the bicycles themselves ever present in the community, advertisements in local publications, marketing materials located on strategic websites and actual physical locations, program word of mouth, newsletters, and radio support will all fuel public notification and encouragement of project/ 

Partnerships:  This project will bring together at least 9 different stake holders or groups of stakeholders in Fort Collins to create a community bike library program.
The stakeholders in this program include:

  1. The City of Fort Collins Transportation Planning Department::  as it seeks to reduce traffic congestion and to improve air quality in the urban growth area;
  2. Colorado State University: as it seeks to mitigate congestion and parking problems on and in the vicinity of campus and the student-run RamWheels bicycle library program;
  3. Downtown Development Authority (DDA): whose mission it is to build public and private investment partnerships that foster economic, cultural, and social growth in the Fort Collins central business district;
  4. (Friends of the Fort Collins Bicycle Program, Inc.): a local bicycle advocacy group dedicated to implementing the Fort Collins Bicycle Program Plan;
  5. Fort Collins Bicycle Collective: a cooperative whose goal is to inspire and support the bicycling community in Fort Collins by facilitating access to bikes, parts, tools and technical expertise;
  6. Local Business Sponsors: including participating Fort Collins bicycle shops, New Belgium Brewing, through its philanthropy outreach grants, and Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) through their Community Grants Program;
  7. Local Hotels: whose guests may seek bicycles as an alternative to automobiles for short stays in our community;
  8. Local Businesses: that would like to keep a bicycle on loan permanently at their place of business as an alternative to using an automobile for short errands.
  9.  The Fort Collins Convention and Visitors’ Bureau:  whose mission is to provide services to visitors of City of Fort Collins.  

Bicycle Library Examples: A survey of bicycle library programs around the U.S. suggests that the physical and social geography of Fort Collins lends itself to the successful introduction of such a program here.  Most successful programs are in university communities.  Notable examples include:
Ø      Arcata, California:
Population:  17,000
Student population: 7,500
Bikes in circulation:  300
Program: Arcata Community Bike Program

Ø      Moscow, Idaho:
Population:  22,000
Student population:  11,700
Bikes in circulation:  400 bikes deployed, many through the campus international students organization. 
Program:  Bike Loan Program

Ø      Iowa City, Iowa:
Population: 63,000
Student population: 29,000
Bikes in circulation:  300 bikes (50-60% university related)
Program:  Iowa City Bike Library (

With a population of 130,000 and a student population of about 25,000, Fort Collins lends itself perfectly to the introduction of a comparable bicycle library program.  The Choice City Bicycle Library will strive to make this program self-sustaining through donations, grants, fund-raising activities, and volunteer efforts by 2010.

Teaching Children Bicycle Safety in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands children have been required to take a "driving test" on bicycle safety for decades.  According to the video below 200,000 children a year take this test before going on to high school where they will encouraged to ride their bicycles to school.

Interestingly, these kids aren't wearing helmets.  What's the lesson there? 


Check out the YouTube site for more videos by this same producer on bicycle safety in the Netherlands.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fort Collins Proposes Automated Bike Share System for 2013

FC Bikes & Transfort Automated Bike Share System
Transportation Planning (David Kemp)
CMAQ $175,000 Local Match $37,000
This proposal includes the implementation of three automated bike share facilities at each of
Transfort’s transit centers: Downtown Transit Center, Colorado State University Transit Center,
and South Transit Center. This proposal is targeted for 2013. Each automated bicycle share
station will include a sheltered facility accommodating 15-20 bicycles per station as well as self
operated touch screen kiosks. Automated bike share facility users will be able to self-check out a
bicycle from the facility. Strategically located at each Transit Center, this multi-modal
program/facility will encourage local and regional commuters to utilize transit and bicycle
transportation means. Source for this project include the Transportation Master Plan, Bicycle
Plan, and Transfort Strategic Plan.
Federal Funding Request: $175,000
Proposed Funding Source: CMAQ
Local Match: $ 37,000
Sources for Project: TMP, Bicycle Plan, Transfort Strategic Plan

Source: North Front Range MPO (downloaded Oct. 14, 2010)   
At the bottom of that page click on downloads, 2010 CMAQ Project Abstracts (Oct-6-10)  and you’ll find all the projects submitted as abstracts in the region. 

Fort Collins Submits Preliminary Requests for Bike Coordinator Funding, 2012-2015

FC Bikes Program – 2012 – 2015
Transportation Planning (David Kemp)
CMAQ $625,000 Local Match $110,000
The Bicycle Coordinator will expand and refine the FC Bikes programmatic scope of work to
encourage people of all ages and abilities to ride bicycles for transportation purposes. Expansion
of the FC Bikes program includes creating new encouragement and education outreach efforts,
collaborating with local public & private partners as well as surrounding communities to share
best practices with respect to encouraging bicycling, creating encouragement and education
programs specific to the universities and community colleges in the region, and working closely
with transportation and urban planners to plan for safe and efficient bicycle facilities. Evaluation
is also included and will consist of bicycle counts, participant surveys, and follow-up data.
Sources for this program application include the City of Fort Collins’ Transportation Master
Plan, Bicycle Plan, Air Quality Plan, Climate Action Plan, and the North Front Range
Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Regional Transportation Demand Management Plan.
Funding Request: $625,000 (total for four years, breakdown: 2012: $150,000; 2013: $200,000;
2014: $150,000: 2015: $125,000
Proposed Funding Source: CMAQ
Local Match: $285,000 (total for four years, breakdown: 2012: $40,000; 2013: $40,000; 2014:
$90,000; 2015: $115,000)
Sources: Transportation Master Plan, Bicycle Plan, Air Quality Plan, Climate Action Plan, and
Regional TDM Plan.

Source: North Front Range MPO (downloaded Oct. 14, 2010)   
At the bottom of that page click on downloads, 2010 CMAQ Project Abstracts (Oct-6-10)  and you’ll find all the projects submitted as abstracts in the region. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tax Increase Will Give us Safer Streets for Cycling - Vote Yes on 2B

Published Oct. 4, 2010 in the Fort Collins Coloradoan

In 1880 the League of American Wheelmen (now “Bicyclists”) began the “Good Roads Movement” to promote better roads in rural areas for recreational bicyclists.  Farmers initially balked at funding new roads but businesses found that good roads promoted commerce so they supported the movement.  Farmers eventually joined and when the automobile came along all these groups allied to promote better roads for their mutual benefit.

In Fort Collins today we face a similar situation.  Motorists, business owners and cyclists (who are also often motorists) need to rally the vote in favor of initiative 2B to increase our city sales tax so we can maintain the excellent transportation system that we have built over the last 30 years.

Well maintained streets and trails are critical to promote safe bicycling.  Who would allow their kids to bicycle to school if they have to swerve into traffic to avoid potholes?  Or who would commute to work by bicycle if they got frequent flat tires from glass and debris in the bike lane?   

Poorly maintained bike lanes promote illegal and unsafe behavior.  If bike lanes aren’t plowed people resort to riding on the sidewalk or the wrong way down the street. (Note the adjacent photo:  This is Lake Street on the Colorado State University Campus;  the east-bound lane is poorly plowed but because the west-bound lane gets some sun and is clearer, students choose to pedal the wrong way down the bike lane.)

I look across Spring Creek to the Spring Creek Trail on winter mornings.  This trail is a major bicycle commuter route.  After a snow storm at 6 a.m. the Parks and Recreation Department sweeps the trail, and shortly thereafter, the bicycle commuters appear.  If the trail weren’t swept of snow cyclists would have no alternative but to ride on busy Shields or Drake Streets, Prospect Road and Centre Avenue to get to work or school.  Many would abandon their bikes and begin driving a car.

Seniors enjoy our trails year round.  On sunny winter days, even though there is snow on the ground and on streets, senior cyclists and others can ride the Spring Cr. Trail to the Poudre River Trail and then west to Old Town while walkers and joggers have access to natural areas and nearby neighborhoods. 

Our situation is pretty clear: we have built an infrastructure through thoughtful, hard work of citizens and City staff that allows us to be called the healthiest metropolitan area in the nation (Gallup Poll, March 2010).  We are one of the top twelve bicycle friendly communities in the US (League of American Bicyclists, 2010).  And we are one of the top six places to live in the country (Money Magazine, 2010).  

Without revenue, the City will begin to cut back on services like plowing and sweeping bike lanes or trails.  We’ve already been advised that the Parks Department will lose two million dollars. 

As a member of the City’s Economic Advisory Commission I see statistics and I hear regular reports that validate Forbes’ ranking of Fort Collins as the fourth best small metropolitan area in the US to locate a business and to build a career (2010).   Businesses locate here because of the great City we have built.  Let’s keep it that way.  Please vote yes on initiative 2B.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bike Crashes Get Spotty and Inconsistent Coverage in Coloradoan

On Saturday afternoon, Sept. 18 Alex Guerin either hit a car or was hit by a car on Shields St. near Elizabeth.  Here's the report from the Coloradoan on Tuesday, Sept. 21:  
"Alex Guerin is in fair condition after he was hit by a car while he was riding his bike on Shields Street near Elizabeth Street on Saturday afternoon.
According to police, Guerin, 19, was riding his bike while carrying a skateboard when a Honda pulled in front of him. Guerin, who was not wearing a helmet, crashed, police said. The incident remains under investigation."
Then on Friday, Sept. 24 the Coloradoan further reported:

“No charges will be filed in connection with an accident that injured a CSU student who was riding his bicycle Saturday afternoon when he collided with a vehicle pulling out of a drive-way onto Shields Street near Elizabeth Street.

Alex Guerin, 19, who was not wearing a helmet, is unable to remember what happened before he collided with a car driven by Gregory McCauley, 26, of Fort Collins, said Rita Davis, police spokeswoman.  Investigators have determined Guerin should have been able to avoid the collision, she said.”

The initial report of this crash clearly says that Guerin "was hit" by a car.  The follow-up report suggests that Guerin "collided" with a car.  So who hit whom?  

The fact that no citation was issued suggests that this was truly an "accident" that could not have been avoided.  Yet, a car pulling out of a driveway onto Shields sounds like a "failure to yield" infraction to me.

I'll see if I can get a copy of the police report to follow up further. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sharrows Will Make Cycling Safer in Old Town

Smart Cycling Column by Rick Price
Fort Collins Coloradoan, Monday, Sept. 20, 2010

Bicyclists often ask me what to do when the bike lane ends, such as when riding east on Mountain Avenue or Oak Street into Old Town.
The answer to the question is take the lane. Any of those streets that have on-street parking and no bike lane require you to act as a vehicle (since you are, anyway, by law) and take the center of the lane. You are safer there because you are more visible and should assert the basic principle of first come, first served. The car behind you will have to wait, as it would for another automobile poking along looking for parking.
Many people don't feel comfortable with this solution. I am pleased to announce that relief is on the way, at least on Mountain Avenue.

At its August meeting, the Bicycle Advisory Committee, a sub-committee of the city's Transportation Board, heard a report from transportation planner Scott Weeks that sharrows are being planned for Mountain Avenue from Meldrum Street to Riverside Avenue. This is great news for those of us who pedal to Old Town from the west.
The 2004 Strategic Plan for Old Town noted that "discontinuous east-west bicycle routes in and out of Old Town make it extremely difficult for cyclists from west side neighborhoods to get to downtown for work or entertainment." The plan further commented that lack of signage and visible connections "make bicycle commuting a poor alternative" for those who work downtown.
So what's a sharrow? It is a contraction of "shared lane arrow." It is a large bicycle stencil with arrows or chevrons painted in the center of the lane indicating where bicycles should be for safety purposes when there is no bike lane. It renders clear to motorists that they can expect to find bicycles in the travel lane.
Sharrows are used principally in communities where streets are too narrow for bike lanes. Boulder has sharrows, as do Oregon cities Portland and Eugene. They have become standard markings in many California cities, including Berkeley, Long Beach and San Francisco. Long Beach has even painted a wide green stripe down the travel lane indicating where bicyclists should position themselves. Some members of the Bicycle Advisory Committee encouraged our transportation planners to do something similar.
Sharrows are just another means of asking motorists and cyclists to share the road. They serve an important educational purpose by pointing out that it's OK for bikes to pedal down the middle of the lane where they are more visible, won't be hit by cars backing out of diagonal parking and where they avoid the door zone of cars parallel parked along the road.
Some of us on the Bicycle Advisory Committee would like to see sharrows on all east-west streets into Old Town. We feel they would make Old Town much friendlier for bicyclists and motorists.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sun-Blind Drivers can Kill

Published in the Fort Collins, Coloradoan "Smart Cycling" column 
Sept. 6, 2010
By Rick Price 
Even though 95% of bike crashes can be avoided, we all know that “stuff happens.”  Like the night I knocked a Colorado State Patrolman on his back in the middle of North Overland Trail at Vine Drive.  I didn’t see him until my forearm hit him in the gut.  He was on his back in the middle of the road in the blink of an eye.    

The investigation, which took a week, determined that I was blinded by the flashing lights of the police cruiser parked in the bike lane.  The officer was standing next to his cruiser with no flashlight and no reflective material on his dark blue uniform.  I was absolved of any wrongdoing in the crash because of the “blinding lights.”

There are a number of lessons here but the biggest one is this:  watch out not to be blinded by bright lights and this time of year be especially careful of sun-blindness when driving your car or bike.

(See the link to the story by Keri Caffrey that accompanies this photo at the bottom of this post.  Do you see the cyclist in the picture?)

Sun-blindness often occurs in Fort Collins within six weeks each side of the equinox (September 20th or 21st) especially within an hour after sunrise and before sunset.  It is a big issue on east-west streets.  And it can kill.  The same conditions exist before and after March 21st but fall is far worse because the weather is still warm and kids, including college students, are bicycling to school in large numbers. 

Amanda Miyoshi was bicycling to Fort Collins High School on Sept. 11, 2007.  As she crossed Horsetooth Road at 7:30 a.m. the young 17 year old driver headed east didn’t see her until it was too late.  Amanda was wearing a helmet yet she suffered a traumatic brain injury from which she is still recovering. The sun rose that day at 6:37 a.m. and was no higher than three and a half-fingers above the horizon, using the boy scout method of calculating the sun’s position by holding your arm out and measuring the number of fingers between the horizon and the sun.

Fourteen year old "SiSi" Mijiddorj was crossing Drake Road and was hit by an east-bound SUV at 6:43 a.m. on Aug. 20, 2009.  The sun had risen less than thirty minutes earlier.  At the time of the crash the sun would have been about two fingers above the horizon.  The SUV driver never saw her.  SiSi died that evening. 

Cyclists and motorists should be very careful on east-west streets this time of year, especially in the morning but also in the evening.  During morning hours motorists should slow down and be aware that cyclists and pedestrians are headed to school.  Cyclists should stop before crossing arterials and walk across them if necessary.  Use sidewalks if you must and be aware that motorists simply may not see you if they are blinded.  Another option is to change your route:  use the trails or use neighborhood streets where trees cast shade and cut back on the possibility of sun-blindness. 

(For a great illustration of how the sun can render a bicyclist invisible check out this blog post by Keri Caffrey:  "The Blinding Sun ")