Friday, January 28, 2011

Wake up, Fort Collins! Boulder is Introducing B-Cycle Bike Share Program

Denver has one and so do Austin, Chicago, Des Moines, Hawaii, and Louisville.  Boulder is getting one this spring and, unfortunately Fort Collins' "bike library," will likely be left in the dust.  Maybe this is what innovation is all about.  The first City to introduce a formal bike share program clings to its fossilized, unsustainable dinosaur so long that it misses the boat entirely.

And to think, that the President and CEO of B-Cycle, that state-of-the-art, automated, sustainable bike sharing program is a Colorado State University graduate!

This just in from Marni Ratzel, the Bicycle/Pedestrian Transportation Planner in Boulder. 

"GO Boulder" announces the opening of modern "B-Cycle" the program started  

GO Boulder to host open house on B-cycle bike share program

The City of Boulder/GO Boulder will host a public open house to introduce Boulder B-cycle and its community bike-sharing strategy on Tuesday, Feb.1, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Municipal Building Lobby, 1777 Broadway.

At the open house, GO Boulder and Boulder B-cycle will solicit public input from the community on the bike-share concept including proposed station locations.  Members of the public are welcome and encouraged to drop in anytime during the open house.  For those interested, Boulder B-cycle will give a presentation at 5 p.m.

“This Boulder grown bike-share system will be designed to make it even easier for Boulder residents, employees and visitors to get around town without a car,” said Transportation Planner Cris Jones.  “We would like to know what the community thinks of the initial strategy so we can help Boulder B-cycle be as successful as possible.”

Boulder B-cycle will use the public input to finalize the program and bike-share station strategy.  The program is set to go live in May 2011.

Boulder B-cycle is a local non-profit formed by Boulder residents to own and operate Boulder’s bike-sharing program.  The City of Boulder/GO Boulder is supporting Boulder B-cycle with a $250,000 federal grant.

For more information about the bike-share program, visit Go Boulder and B-Cycle Boulder.  Follow GO Boulder on Twitter @BoulderGOBldr and

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What is Your Smart Cycling IQ?

First published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan December 20, 2010

The Bike Co-op’s “train-the-trainer” program will train sixty or more community members in the basics of smart cycling in the next several months.  Why don’t you join us?  Determine your Smart Cyclist IQ by taking this quiz (answers are near the bottom). 
1) If you pass a pedestrian while bicycling on a sidewalk or trail you should:  a) yield; b) emit an audible signal before you pass; c) moderate your speed; d) all of the above.
2) The most important measurement in fitting a standard diamond-frame bicycle to a rider is: a) rider weight; b) wheel diameter; c) crank length; d) stand-over height. 
3) Colorado law requires that cyclists ride as far right as:  a) possible; b) practicable; c) they feel safe; d) none of the above.
4) How many feet in advance should a cyclist signal his or her intention to turn right? a) 20; b) 40; c) 80; d) 100.
5) A properly fitted helmet should be worn: a) tilted back to protect the back of the head; b) level, covering the forehead, with the chin strap loose; c) tilted back to protect the back of the head, with the chin strap tight; d) level covering the forehead, with both the ear straps and the chin strap tight.
6) What gear combination is easiest to pedal up a steep hill?  a) small chainring and large rear cog; b) Large chainring and large rear cog; c) small chainring and small rear cog; d) large chainring and small rear cog.
7) Optimum cadence for long-distance cycling is from: a) 25 – 50 rpm; b) 50 – 75 rpm; c) 75 – 95 rpm; d) 100 –125 rpm
8)  What is the minimum width, in feet, of a car lane that can be safely shared by a bicycle and an automobile side by side? a) 20; b) 12; c) 14; d) 18.
9) Which of the following statements is true?  Bicyclists are considered pedestrians when they a) choose to ride against traffic; b) ride their bike on a sidewalk or trail; c) are crossing the street in a pedestrian crosswalk; d) are walking their bike.
10) A white front light on a bicycle should be visible for how many feet ahead?  a) 100;
b) 300; c) 500; d) 700.

Answers:  1) d; 2) d; 3) c; 4) d; 5) d; 6) a; 7) c; 8) c; 9) d; 10) c.

If you missed only one or two questions you should consider helping the Bike Co-op teach this material.  Smart cycling is more than knowing the answer to these questions, though.  Join us for hands on practice to learn bike handling skills in Fort Collins traffic in January or February.  One Saturday class and the free online course at will make you a smart cyclist and qualify you to help with our Youth Skills Bicycling 123 program.  For more information and to sign up for a class visit

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Let’s Take Bicycle Scofflaws to School, not the Woodshed

First published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan Dec. 6, 2010

My friends at the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers use a technique described by CSU Professor George Wallace as “calling on the authority of the resource” to try and convince people to respect the environment.  A similar strategy might work to get scofflaw cyclists to respect the rules of the road:  passers-by in Old Town could advise them that riding their bike on the sidewalk is inappropriate, or law-abiding cyclists could remind wrong-way riders that “we just don’t do that” in Fort Collins.

The problem is that unlike an encounter with a hiker on the trail it’s hard to have a quiet conversation with a scofflaw bicycle rider. So we need to get those bicyclists into a room where we can talk to them.  How do we do that? 

Most adult bicyclists are also motorists.  They know to stop at stop signs, obey the speed limit and not drive down the street the wrong way.  But just as some motorists roll ever-so-slowly through stop signs on quiet neighborhood streets, most cyclists are lax about respecting the rules of the road.  They think that some rules aren’t really important, that they don’t apply to them at that particular moment and that the consequences of disobeying the law are minimal (which is often true).

So all we need to do is enforce the law, right?  Unfortunately that’s not likely to happen under the current system.  Over a six-month period ending in September Fort Collins police issued 176 citations for bicycle violations.  Roughly half were for riding on the sidewalk in Old Town and most of the others were for running stop signs and lights.  Three tickets were for riding without lights at night after the cyclist was already stopped for running a stop sign.   Even if we increased these numbers ten-fold we’d collect enough in fines to hire half of a police officer and we would have alienated a lot of cyclists.

A “diversion program” for bicyclists who get tickets might be more effective.  Tempe and Tucson, Arizona have done this as have many university towns in California.  The idea is to “divert” scofflaws with tickets from the court system by putting them into a classroom.  As explained by the highly respected Victoria Transport Institute “such programs are popular because they emphasize safety rather than punishment and help develop cooperation among police, parents, and bicycle safety advocates. Scout troops, school groups and parents often voluntarily attend the safety workshops.”

Diversion programs are often operated with increased police surveillance for a brief period, as at the beginning of the CSU semester in August, when several hundred tickets might be issued.  The ticket is waived when the bicyclist attends a two-hour bicycle safety class.  Such a program might be just what we need to get people talking about how to be safer bicyclists and better community members.

Rule of the week:  Use the right-most lane that serves your destination.