Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Not Bicycle to Work?

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) publishes a blog called Greenversations. On May 12, 2008 they posted the following "Question of the Week: Why are you or aren’t you biking to work?"

Within four weeks they had 799 answers to the question! 345 people wrote that they did bike to work (of course, they would read and respond to such a blog post) and 359 wrote that they didn't pedal to work.

What is interesting is the reason WHY people don't pedal. As bicycle advocates we can learn something from this.

Of course, many people live too far to pedal (or they think that they do), others have to take the kids to school or have no showers or place to change. But a good third of the folks (120) say they don't ride because it is "too dangerous."

Indeed, Bob wrote the following in this respect:

"The Safe Routes to School program is brilliant. We need a Safe Routes to Work program. And a Safe Routes to Just About Everywhere Else program. Its sad that people are detered from biking because they feel like they’re going to be run over by a car (yes, even Priuses can hurt). Understandably, there are many people that lack confidence on bikes. City riding is not easy. Suburban riding can be even worse. We need to throw money (buckets of it) into viable, SAFE routes around cities and towns. Also, its all about connections. The routes actually need to go somewhere. I’ve been on too many trails that suddenly end in a busy intersection/narrow bridge/highway on-ramp/etc. You can have a beautiful trail for 10 miles, but if for a 100 feet bikers feel endangered, most people won’t even bother."

A League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 class or Commuter Skills Class is just what those folks need. And at the risk of oversimplifying the issue (maybe that last 100 feet really is bad) then your local advocacy group should take that problem up and get it fixed (of course, bicyclists easily become pedestrians and can walk their bike, also!)

So let's get a Safe Routes to Work Commuter Skills class going in Fort Collins. We have many League Cycling Instructors in town who could teach such a class and even offer individualized instruction, accompanying commuters on their route to demonstrate exactly how to handle uncomfortable intersections.

If your business is interested in such a class for bicycle commuters contact the Fort Collins Bike Co-op today!

What Does the Transportation Board Have to Say about The BAC 2010 Work Plan?

The Bicycle Advisory Committee is, technically, a sub-committee of the Transportation Board. Both have the mission to advise City Council on transportation issues and policy. The following, extracted from the November 18 minutes of the Transportation Board, includes a T-Board discussion of the BAC work plan.

You can read the complete minutes here by clicking here.

6. BICYCLE ADVISORY COMMITTEE (BAC) – David “DK” Kemp, Bill Jenkins

The BAC is a subcommittee of the Transportation Board. They bring issues the Transportation Board for forwarding to City Council.

DK shared the Bicycle Advisory Committee’s Work Plan. The Plan cmes out of the City Bike Plan. The BAC began operating in March 2009. The first thing they worked on was a Work Plan based on the major recommendations of the Bike Plan. The next step is to get into each of the five identified goals. FCBikes is dialed into the Work Plan, and is working collaboratively with the BAC.

Encouragement, Education, Engineering, Enforcement, Environment, Economy, and Community are elements of the Bike Plan.

BAC Work Plan Goals for 2010:
1. Bicycle safety.
2. Bicycling encouragement.
3. Bicycle-related economic development and affordability.
4. Bicycle facilities
5. Bicycle performance

Jenkins: Bicycle safety is the most important, and the other items feed into that. One person moved to Fort Collins because of the Bicycle-relate economic development and affordability
Miller: Has the BAC reviewed studies about automobile speeds and bicycle mortality?
DK: No, but that is a great suggestion. The Transportation Master Plan Update project is coming up, so those ideas can feed into that.
Miller: I saw some information on bicycle accident rates in the paper. I was interested in the percentage of injuries and deaths that occur in wrong way accidents versus same way accidents. It appears that the risk of an accident would be higher going the wrong way. There seem to be fewer fatalities in wrong way accidents. Have there been studies showing the actual risk? Has the City of Fort Collins looked outside itself for contest or mortality rates for the different types of projects? Statistical probability of dying in an accident is what I’m referring to.
DK: We haven’t had a great number of fatalities, fortunately.
Jenkins: We can take that back to the BAC.
Robert: We would welcome a more comprehensive perspective on bicycle safety.
Duvall: Are there rules or laws about bicycles being required to have lights/signals to be more visible?
DK: They are required to have front and rear lights and reflectors at night.
Duvall: Perhaps the rules and laws should be more strictly enforced. Drivers are frustrated by bicyclists who ignore the rules of the road.
DK: The mission is to get bicyclists to be seen, make eye contact, be safe.
Steen: Have you considered a bicycle license? We expect them to share the road and obey the traffic, but there is no licensing requirement.
DK: Traffic skills courses are being operated and educate new cyclists. We’d have to look at feasibility.
Miller: If you’re going to test and license you need to educate beginning in grade school. Today, as I was cycling south on Shields, a car turned in front of me. Had I not taken evasive action, I would have been injured or killed. The car made the error. In the case of a cyclist turning in front of the bus, the bus passengers could have been injured if the bus took evasive action.
Robert: 9th graders are now in high school and are subject to peer pressure discouraging bikes. Are we doing anything to encourage them to continue to use bikes?
DK: Yes, we’re actually getting more high school teachers asking us to come to the schools to teach bicycle safety.
Robert: The motor vehicle drivers test doesn’t have any questions on bicycles.
DK: The do now. It is one of the things that brought us up into recognition as a Bicycle Friendly State.

What is YOUR Bicycle Advisory Committee Doing?

In case you are wondering,the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) published the following "draft" work plan in their October 2009 minutes. The work plan is for 2010.
If you would like to address comments to the BAC you may do so at

You may also view minutes of past meetings by clicking on this link.

The Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) is a subcommittee of the Transportation Board.
It is composed of representatives of various city boards and commissions and community
organizations that have a stake in bicycling. The BAC reviews and provides
recommendations regarding bicycle capital improvements, bicycle policies, and Bicycle
Plan priorities. The overall goal of the BAC is to promote safe, efficient bicycling in Fort
Collins and the surrounding area.
After examining the Bicycle Plan and considering needs of the various interest groups
represented, the BAC has established the following goals:

1. Bicycle Safety – Work with City departments, bicycling advocacy groups, law
enforcement agencies and other interest groups in the community to promote bicycle
safety education programs on the rules of the road and sharing the road for motorists and bicyclists of all ages.

2. Bicycling Encouragement – Continue to develop and implement innovative programs,
campaigns and events to encourage increased bicycle travel

3. Bicycle-related Economic Development – Use the existence of high quality bicycle
facilities, a robust bicycling culture, bicycle sporting events and enjoyable recreational biking to attract employers, new residents, businesses and visitors.

4. Bicycling and Household Affordability – Provide a safe, efficient bicycle infrastructure to facilitate bicycling as an affordable transportation option for low income households and non-drivers.

5. Bicycle Facilities - Identify innovative interim solutions for improving design
deficiencies and/or maintenance of important bicycle travel routes to assure a safer, more efficient bicycling environment.
6. Bicycling Performance – Establish performance measures for bicycle programs and

It was suggested that the work plan as presented doesn’t really reflect the importance of how bicycling fits into many goals and policies of the City. It was felt we should go farther and tie this to overall city policies relative to environmental and community benefits.

After some discussion it was decided to add a paragraph from page 3 of the 2008 Bike Plan to put these above goals into context relative to their value to the community.
Further discussion focused on the lack of law enforcement issues in our work plan, though it was pointed out that enforcement is present in item number 1.

Kathleen Bracke & Dave Kemp suggested that they invite the Police Department to come and join us in a BAC meeting to respond to questions about law enforcement relative to bicycling.

Further discussion focused on just what type of enforcement is necessary and the choice police have to make in enforcing bicycling violations versus more serious violations of the law that have higher levels of harm.

Some suggested that education be the focus, as suggested in item one to include law enforcement. Chairman Gould suggested that the discussion was moving into the area of action items under the above major points. As we analyze the above goals we’ll eventually want to enumerate action items or activities that will come up as specific agenda items for the BAC later.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bike Safety Education an Economic Development Issue in Fort Collins

At its January 6, 2010 meeting the City's Economic Advisory Commission voted unanimously to recommend that Fort Collins City Council ask staff to review the City's bicycle education policy. The recommendation comes in light of Council's work session scheduled for February 9 on "transportation safety."

Dear Mayor and City Council,

The Economic Advisory Commission, as part of our 2009 and 2010 Work Plans, has had discussions regarding the fact that Fort Collins has been recognized as a “bike friendly community” and that there is a positive economic benefit to this based on marketing and quality-of-life. In light of the pending February 9 Council work session on transportation safety, the EAC, at our January 6th, 2010 meeting, discussed the issue of bicycle safety and education and the impact on the overall viability of being a “bike friendly community.” It is in this context that the EAC has voted on and agreed to the following recommendation to Council:

The EAC finds that Bicycle Safety Education is an important part of being recognized as a “bike friendly community,” and that this recognition plays an important role in the Economic Health of Fort Collins.

Accolades that Fort Collins receives as a great place to retire, work, raise a family or locate a business are jeopardized by twenty-five serious injuries or fatal bike/car crashes involving cyclists since 2007. Incidents such as these may seriously jeopardize our image as a bicycle friendly community and our ability to continue to receive such recognition.

Therefore, we encourage you to ask staff to explore best practice solutions to take bicycle safety education to the community.

Thank you,
Christophe Febvre and the Economic Advisory Commission

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cycologist Cooperates with Bike Co-op on Clunker Bikes

Through Jan. 31 the Cycologist Bike Shop will give you a 10% discount if you turn in a "clunker" bike with the purchase of a new bike. The good news is that the Cycologist will donate your clunker to the Bike Co-op for recycling, refurbing and redeploying to someone in need! Everybody wins.

Visit the Cycologist web site today and take a look in the basement for that clunker that you never use!

Then plan to visit the Bike Co-op to see what we do! (Of course, we're glad to take that clunker as a donation if you don't intend to buy a new bike this month). Visit the Bike Co-op web site today.

Both cyclists and drivers can make bicycling safer

Fort Collins Coloradoan, January 4, 2010
by Rick Price, Ph.D. (Safe Cycling Coordinator, The Bike Co-op)

Headed north on College Avenue from Old Town, the motorist shouted something as he passed.

At the light, he continued: "You were in the middle of the lane. Get out of the road! You can't ride in the middle of the road." I gave him my League of American Bicyclist cycling instructor business card as he roared off.

Others have advised me that College Avenue isn't a "bike lane" or that "bicycles are illegal on College Avenue." When I explain that bicycles are prohibited on College Avenue from Laurel Street south to Harmony Road but not in Old Town, people seem surprised. Most don't realize that legally, my bicycle is as much of a vehicle as the SUV or the Prius driving through Old Town.

With this monthly column, I will discuss rules of the road, shared rights and responsibilities, belligerent motorists and scofflaw cyclists. The outcome, I hope, might be a safer cycling and motoring environment.

I'll begin with six basic rules for cyclists and motorists.

> Cyclists are safest when they ride with the flow of traffic. Wrong-way riding is the single biggest cause of bike/car crashes.

> Cyclists are safest riding on the street or road, not on the sidewalk. This reduces conflicts with pedestrians and decreases sidewalk "ride-outs," another cause of bike/car crashes.

> "Share the road" has two meanings, depending on the width of the lane. A 14-foot lane has room for bicycles and motor vehicles side by side. A 12- or 10-foot lane does not, so the League of American Bicyclists teaches cyclists to ride in the center of the lane or just to the right of center, where they are more visible and therefore safer.

> When there are no bike lanes, bicyclists should ride where they feel safest. State law allows this, and with the new 3-foot passing rule, this may mean that cyclists should use the entire lane. In Old Town, with the hazards of diagonal parking, bicycles are safest in the middle of the lane if they chose to ride College, Mountain and LaPorte avenues or Olive, Oak and Magnolia streets. Cyclists no longer should feel the need to pedal in the gutter.

> Bicycling is safe, yet cyclists should wear helmets to protect themselves from the 5 percent of crashes that can’t be avoided. To avoid the 95 percent of crashes that can be prevented, cyclists should ride defensively, avoid falling off their bikes and not allow others to knock them off their bikes.

Bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles. This rule is the mantra of the League of American Bicyclists and dominates 99 percent of the safe cycling curricula taught in the U.S. Different rules apply for children under age 10 and for those between ages 10 to 15.

In the following months, we will examine these common rules more in depth.