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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 BikeFortCollins.org (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, BikeFortCollins.org.  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: (www.ccbikelibrary.com) 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 BikeFortCollins.org.  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. BikeFortCollins.org (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:  http://www.culturechange.org/library-bikes.html
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 (http://www.bikelibrary.org/)


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.

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