Irene, Luci and I have out bags packed and our bikes locked (to keep the house-sitting in-laws from taking joy rides). We are heading to Ft. Collins, Colo. to visit friends. We are leaving today, but don’t worry you’ll still get your fix of Tucson biking news. I have some good posts written and ready to publish. I won’t be creating the link roundup while we are gone, though.
We’ll be back on Monday and resume publishing the link roundup Tuesday, which happens to be Tucson Velo’s official birthday.
Here is a post I wrote for my personal blog the last time we visited Fort Collins in July 2009.
My wife and I spent a few days visiting friends in Fort Collins, Colo. This is the first time I have been there since I began seriously riding a bike, so I was acutely aware of the bike scene.
The first thing I noticed when we got to town was the sheer number of people on their bikes. Almost everywhere you went you would see dozens of people out riding. It seemed like there were less traditional roadies and more people out on cruisers and commuters.
Here is one of the bike racks in Old Town, which is basically the same as Tucson’s 4th Avenue area, but much bigger with far more shops and restaurants.
Ft. Collins is home to New Belgium Brewery and they do a lot to promote cycling as an alternative to cars. One of the primary ways they do this is though their Team Wonderbike program.
Ft. Collins is an easy town to get around on by bike. According to the Ft. Collins’ government bicycling Web site they have 280 miles of striped bike lanes. The big difference between Tucson and Ft. Collins’ bike lanes is the quality of the road. The streets that I rode on were far more clean and smooth. I encountered very few issues with the road.
If there isn’t a bike lane to get you where you want to go, it is also legal to ride on sidewalks in Ft. Collins. Sidewalk riding seems to be the biggest annoyance for our non-cycling friends who live in Ft. Collins. They say it is frustrating because many people jump in and out of bike lanes from the sidewalk so they never know if you should treat them as a pedestrian or vehicle. The upside was that many more families appeared to be riding places on the sidewalk. I can see both good and bad points about sidewalk riding.
Also on the Ft. Collins bike web site is a link to report aggressive drivers/close calls and road hazards. How cool is that?
One thing I didn’t get a chance to talk to people about is whether there are issues with the police and enforcement. I did walk by a police station in Old Town which had several fliers about bike safety, but actions always speak louder than words or fliers. Here is a blog about police responding to complaints.
Here is one more shot I took. This is an empty bike rack a Target store, but it illustrates a point I want to make. Everywhere you go in town has a bike rack and they are all right near the door. Many Tucson cyclists know how frustrating it can be to ride your bike somewhere and then have a hard time finding a place to lock up your bike. In Ft. Collins bike racks are everywhere.
One more really cool thing about Ft. Collins is their Bike Library. Anyone can apparently sign up and check out a bike for up to a week completely free. We didn’t get a chance to borrow a bike, but did see the bikes though the shop window. They were all nice cruisers that seemed to be in great shape.
Lastly, I don’t pretend to know what it takes to become a platinum bike city, but if Tucson is gold, then Ft. Collins really ought to be a platinum city. Apparently Ft. Collins thinks so too. They have created a blog to make it happen.
It is hard to really get a sense for an area when you spend only spend a week there, but overall I think Ft. Collins seems like a better place to ride than Tucson. Of course I say that when the weather is 80 degrees there and scorching in Tucson. Maybe I would think differently when they are below freezing.