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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saving Fort Collins' Bicycle Coordinator - A Little History (October 2005)

In October 2005 a City Council seeking to save money was prepared to cut the small allocation of funds for the City's Bicycle Coordinator's position.  Those funds could be used to create a right turn lane on South College Avenue, it seems.

The fledgling organization, Bike Fort Collins stepped in to rally the troops.  Bike Fort Collins President and Co-founder, Rick Price, sent the following message to an ad-hoc mailing list.

From: Rick Price
To: rick
Date: Oct 28 2005 - 5:02pm

Bike Coordinator or No Bike Coordinator?

First of all you need to know that the approximately 200 e-mails that our City Council received before their Oct. 11 meeting were the most messages Council has EVER received on ANY issue.  It made an impression.  Though not a big enough impression.

Last Tuesday night City Council defeated a proposal for funding of the Bike Coordinator's position by a 4-3 vote.  This week there have been discussions among some council members about funding a possible part-time position or funding a volunteer position of some type.   So it looks as if they may take this up again at their next meeting, almost certainly for the last time for a year or two.

Many of you have expressed concern with continuing the current Bike Coordinator's position in SmartTrips.   I share your concerns.  But I think we should still push for a part-time position, at the very least, that might be housed in Transportation Planning and NOT in SmartTrips.

Here's why:

1) Funding history for the Bike Coordinator functions have been (numbers are approximate):
    2003 - $200,000
    2004 - $120,000
    2005 - $65,000
    2006 - 0    (proposed)
    2007 - 0    (proposed)

2) In 2006 the Transportation Dept. will revise and update the entire bicycle portion of the Master Transportation Plan.  A Traffic Planner will be assigned to this at about half-time.  Because of budget cuts this update will be done entirely in-house without the assistance of consultants as has been common in the past.  The planner will not have time to carry out grant writing and funding efforts to assure Fort Collins gets its fair share of Federal tax monies which are already flowing and which is very competitive.

3) All functions of SmartTrips relative to Bike to Work month, the Freewheels program, the Commuter Coach program, Bike Rodeos at Schools, and Educational Outreach to schools, businesses or others will end.

4) The chance of retaining our League of American Bicyclists Silver Medal as a Bike Friendly Community in 2007, when it will next be evaluated, is slim without a bike coordinator.
Here's what we'd like to ask your help with:

Making the case that it isn't fair to the community, to our kids, or to cyclists in town to shut this program down cold turkey without giving a group like the Friends of the Fort Collins  Bicycle Program, Inc. (OR any other group) a chance to step in and take it over.  We'd like a liaison, ombudsman, planner, PR person, or someone funded at least part-time to work with us as we take on the functions of the Bike Coordinator.

Call to Action

1) Send a message to your own or to all City Council members imploring them to reconsider at least a half-time position to be placed in the Transportation Planning office to help with the update of the bicycle transportation plan and to act as a liaison to the bike community to help as they assume roles as volunteers that SmartTrips has played in the past.

If YOU send a message and if YOU can get ONE friend to send a message, we'll get our message across.  Write it from the heart this time.
(This should make 400 messages this time.)

2) If one in ten of you can come to the meeting Wednesday at Council Chambers, 300 West LaPorte AND bring one friend a few of us will speak and try to convey the same message.   This would mean we'd have over 40 people at the City Council meeting.

Thanks for your efforts!
Rick Price on behalf of Bike Fort Collins

How did it turn out?  About thirty citizens turned out to express support for the Bicycle Coordinator's position.  Council began debate and Council Member Ben Manvel moved to allocate $44,000 for a half time position.  As the vote unfolded everyone move to support the motion, including all four who had voted against
it two weeks before. 

The rest is history, as they say. 

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