Fixing bikes, enhancing community

PHOTO BY LIBBY JAMES. Volunteers Tim Blythe, Don Picard, manager Justin Mohar, Tim Anderson and Jeff Sweet with the Fort Collins Bicycle Co-Op.

If you live in Fort Collins and want or need a bike, you are in luck. Even if you don’t have two pennies to rub together, you can have a bicycle built especially for you, as long as you are willing to put in a few hours of labor for a local non-profit organization.

That’s because a dedicated manager, several part-time employees and a corps of loyal volunteers at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op will make it possible. “We couldn’t do this if Fort Collins weren’t the bike friendly community that it is”, said general manager Justin Mohar.

The Co-op got its start in 2003 when Rafael Cletero began repairing bikes in his garage. A few friends and neighbors got curious and asked him for help. Before he knew it, his garage was overflowing with bikes and parts, and he had to put a sign on his door in order to limit his working hours. Soon he moved to larger quarters and named his enterprise the Bike Against Collective. Soon the city began to wonder whether or not he was an official business and solved that problem by becoming involved and encouraging his work by suggesting he become a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

The Collective became the Fort Collins Bicycle Co-op. It was located at 331 N. College Avenue until they acquired the property at 1501 N. College, formerly a recycling operation. With two buildings covering 4,000 square feet and a large outdoor area, the Co-op has plenty of room for bike and parts storage, a spacious and well-lighted work area, and an inviting retail space at the front of the shop.

PHOTO BY LIBBY JAMES. A bike mounted on the outside wall of the Fort Collins Bicycle Co-Op.

Between 80 and 120 volunteers give their time in the course of a year, according to Mohar. They range from newbies who have no knowledge of bike mechanics to “bike geeks” who spend time at the shop three or four days every week. Most are retired and have loved bikes all their lives. Several were bike racers. On one visit, a retired software engineer was working away in the back room, and a couple of dentists were still enjoying precise tinkering, just not in people’s mouths. They were obviously enjoying the camaraderie as they worked to make a contribution to the welfare of the biking community.

Mohar, who has ridden a bike since college days at the University of Wisconsin, admits that if he had to give up either riding or working on bikes, he’d quit riding. He began as a volunteer at the Bike Co-op in 2007 and has been managing the place for the last six years.

He calls the shop’s Earn-a-Bike option its flagship program. A person in need of a bike can earn one by devoting between 10 and 20 hours of labor to a local non-profit. An alternative “midway” program makes it possible for someone to receive an “as is” bike and then tune it up by paying an hourly fee and working with a volunteer mechanic to do the necessary repairs on their bike. Other customers choose to acquire a bike and pay it off by doing chores at the shop.

A “mechanic service” offers anyone in the community a course in bicycle repairs as they work on their own bikes supervised by a mechanic. Fee for this service is $12 an hour.

The retail arm of the business supports these programs. Used bicycles are repaired, refurbished, tuned up and offered for sale. All bikes in the shop have been donated by members of the community. The shop never buys a bike or even makes a trade; they only take donations. The retail portion of the business also carries a complete line of bicycle parts and accessories, shoes and clothing.

“Because we have a different clientele and business model, we are no threat to the traditional bike shops in the community,” Mohar explained. “Sometimes they send us customers, and we send customers to them. Some of our employees and volunteers have worked in local bike shops, so we have friendly relations with them.”

About four years ago, a “Women’s Wrenching Night” was instituted at the shop. It is a class in bicycle repair and maintenance conducted by women and only open to women and the LGBTQ community. “It’s a chance for people to learn about bike mechanics in a safe and comfortable environment,” Mohar said. “It has been very popular”.

Recycling is an important aspect of the business. They break down hundreds of bikes every year, salvaging the useable parts and sending damaged wheels and frames to a metal recycling business conveniently located next door to them on College Avenue. They take donations of any bikes and parts and do their best to reuse and/or recycle them.

The business is responsible to an active and supportive board of directors. The shop does not advertise but welcomes customers and volunteers even if they have no experience with bicycle repair. Their new quarters will allow them to expand this summer in order to provide more mechanic services. Sometimes, in the busy summer months, there is a waiting line for help.

The Bike Co-op has an important and expanding role in contributing to Fort Collins’s reputation as a bike friendly community.

Source: North Forty News

The Fort Collins Bike Co-Op offers a accumulation of programs

By A&E Writer Caitlyn Berman

The Fort Collins Bike Co-Op, initially started in a neighborhood garage, has blossomed into a community-centered, non-profit organization tailoring their actions to the well-being of the community.

In addition to their regularly-scheduled open shop bicycle repair hours, during which time volunteer mechanics teach customers how to fix their own bikes for $10 an hour, the Co-Op hosts Women’s Wrenching Nights, mechanics classes and the ‘Earn-a-Bike’ program.

Photo credit: Caitlyn Berman

The ‘Earn-a-Bike’ program offers those who are in need of a bicycle the chance to obtain one by volunteering 20 hours of work at another local non-profit organization.

“‘Earn-a-Bike’ is our longest-running program, and is typically targeted at people who otherwise can’t afford a bike,” said Justin Mohar, Fort Collins Bike Co-Op manager and Colorado State masters graduate. “Anyone can participate, but our goal is to help people who really need it.”

The Bike Co-Op provides 15 applications per month for this program, and works with applicants to facilitate the process.

“If we get a reference letter from some sort of social service agency explaining someone’s circumstances, we can cut the number of required volunteer hours down to 10 instead of 20,” Mohar said. “We like to work with people.”

Other community inspired functions held at the Bike Co-Op are Women’s Wrenching Nights, which are bike workshops lead by skilled women volunteers.

“Women’s Wrenching Nights usually start with lecture based on some kind of system like bike fit or brakes, and then we break off into smaller groups and go over the specifics of each person’s bike,” said Dondi Barrowclough, Fort Collins Bike Co-Op representative.

Following the lecture, participants have time to work shop.

“We’ll then usually end with an open shop component where women can work on their own bikes,” Barrowclough said. “We like to encourage all women and LGBTQ members to join in for a fun, free night.”

This 2-year-old program was “designed specifically to get more women interested in their bikes in a comfortable environment with other women,” Mohar said.

There is no set date as to when the next wrenching night will be, as the Bike Co-Op will be moving from its current location at 331 N College Ave. to its newly purchased building located at 1501 N College Ave. around spring of 2015.

Another class offered at the Bike Co-Op similar in structure to Women’s Wrenching Nights is the mechanic class series, starting Feb. 19.

“The mechanics classes are beginner classes open to anyone who wants to learn more about their bike,” Mohar said.

For a $50 donation, participants get six classes, one per week over the span of six consecutive weeks. The goal of these workshops is to equip each participant with the basic ability to identify issues with their bikes and the knowledge to provide solutions, according to Mohar.

“I’ve taken the workshop and it’s really awesome,” Barrowclough said. “You learn different types of braking systems, how to work on wheels … it’s really great.”

Overall, the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op is an organization focused on the engagement and education of community members through bikes.

“I think our mission statement sums it up best,” Barrowclough said. “We’re “building community through bicycles,” so anyone who comes in and needs help leaves having received what they needed.”

Collegian AE Writer Caitlyn Berman can be reached at or on Twitter @CaitlynBerman

Jones: Kids need to experience the adventure of biking, too

By Matt Jones

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve a bicycle. At the risk of sounding cliche, my first bike sparked a new freedom in my life. Instead of being confined to the cul-de-sac, I could now venture two or even three blocks from my house.

My bike was my steed to my quixotic quests. I spent hours riding the dirt roads behind my subdivision for, what I imagined, were huge distances. I understand now that I was probably never out of the sight of neighbors.

For many in Fort Collins, bikes are synonymous with our city. However, that title has much to do with adults and bicycles. We assume that all kids will ride bikes, not realizing that there are kids that would love to have a bike, but can’t get one.

Trips for Kids is a national organization that was founded in 1986 outside of San Francisco by Marilyn Price. Marilyn had a vision of taking city kids into the mountains to experience challenge and nature. Since then the organization has grown to include chapters nationwide. This year, Fort Collins opened its own chapter through the Fort Collins Bike Co-op. I’ve had the pleasure of helping to build this program and feel its growing pains. Since last summer, we’ve been on five rides and served just over a dozen kids.

Trips for Kids is just one of many organizations that attempt to connect kids with the outdoors. Overland Mountain Bike Club has its own “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day,” and other cycling groups have their own youth programs.

The common thread in all of these groups is that each recognizes that the bicycle, though a useful tool, can be that and more to a kid.

When you tell a kid, especially a young one, that you’re going mountain biking, they get the same look I imagine I had when I was little. They imagine an adventure. The rides that we take young kids and most new cyclists on are pretty tame to a veteran cyclist, but by introducing them to a new environment with a new perceived risk, we create the feeling of adventure. This mental state is an awesome place to watch a kid explore and grow. Out on the trail, they experience real dirt, sun, thirst and sometimes, even real scrapes and bruises. From this place they come back with a new idea of what they can achieve.

Kids don’t have to go on an organized ride to learn to mountain bike, but they do need to have a safe place to do it. All of us who love cycling know the feeling of the exaggerated sense of self, the hubris felt with flying down a road or trail. As therapeutic as that is for us adults, imagine what that can do for an at-risk youth. A bike can be the tool that child uses to escape the mundane or even terrifying life he/she lives, if even for just an afternoon.

Trips for Kids rides every other Saturday. Bikes, helmets and lunch are provided. Rides are free. Ages 8 to 18 are welcome. Sign up at

Matt Jones volunteers on the board of directors for Trips for Kids and at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op, and is a coach for the Loveland Composite High School Mountain Bike Team. Trips for Kids is a member organization of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Education Coalition.

Validity in Volunteering: Fort Collins cyclist works through paralyzing injury

By Sam Noblett

Tim Anderson, right, a volunteer at the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op, talks Friday with Natasha Shabalin as they fix the rear brake on her Trek Antelope during open shop hours. Anderson was forced into retirement by a bike accident that left his right side partially paralyzed. He volunteers at the co-op regularly and sits on the board. / Sam Noblett/The Coloradoan

Tim Anderson, right, a volunteer at the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op, talks Friday with Natasha Shabalin as they fix the rear brake on her Trek Antelope during open shop hours. Anderson was forced into retirement by a bike accident that left his right side partially paralyzed. He volunteers at the co-op regularly and sits on the board. / Sam Noblett/The Coloradoan

Tim Anderson
. Age: 56
. Resides: Fort Collins
. Family: Wife, Pat; two sons, James, 25; and Jon, 22
. Can be found at: Fort Collins Bike Co-Op open shop sessions on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays

For Tim Anderson, life has been mostly hurdles as of late.

Anderson, a bicycle enthusiast, was left with partial paralysis on his right side after a bike accident in 2009 that forced an early retirement from a 30-year career in dentistry. But despite his challenges, he keeps moving forward.

Anderson can now be found each week working at all three of the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op’s open-shop sessions, at 331 N. College Ave., where he helps people learn how to tinker with and fix bikes.

As Anderson shuffles with his cane across the shop, sometimes balancing multiple client projects at a time, his personality leaps across the room much faster than he is he able to travel the distance by foot. At times, he makes quips about the music playing in the shop or fondly teases his shopmates.

And despite challenges stemming from his involvement in bikes and bike racing, he holds no ill will toward the machine or the sport.

“There is no resentment,” he said. “You know when you enter a bike race? You sign the waiver saying I understand this is dangerous; it can cause serious injury or death. That’s what I was taking a risk with.”

However, the path to where he stands today — with heavy involvement in two biking nonprofits, the co-op and a separate organization he founded called Fort Collins VeloPark — has been fraught with hardship. And through those challenges he emphasized he was not alone — especially when it came to Pat, his wife of 27 years.

“Pat, you know, she saved my life. She gave me a reason to keep living,” he said. “You know my sons, the rest of my family, they were part of that”.

While Anderson uses a wheelchair at home, he is able to walk with the use of a cane and has even gotten his feet back on the pedals. He rides a customized recumbent tricycle from Rocky Mountain Recumbents in Fort Collins.

He has also continued training with his cycling coach, Andy Clark, three days a week. Clark has worked with Anderson for more than a decade.

“As a cycling coach, you can have some clients with great potential and watch them struggle to use it,” Clark said. “Then I look at Tim, and his sacrifices have already been made. And he overcomes them.”

Through it all, Anderson has continued finding ways to give back to his community. At the co-op he has gained a reputation for being the most consistent volunteer during open-shop sessions, when volunteers put wrenches in riders’ hands and show them how to fix their bikes.

And during those sessions, Anderson uses the time to help others learn skills he has picked up over his life and through his passion for cycling.

“For me, because of my disability, we are enabling,” he said. “There is disabling and enabling. And that’s important.”

Helping others to help themselves has also given Anderson the opportunity to give back after his accident.

“When I got taken out of (dentistry), I became an invalid. I needed to do something to not only amuse myself, but also to recapture some validity,” Anderson said. “Instead of being an invalid, you get back to being valid.”

His willingness to work with anyone, especially children, co-op shop manager Ben Gannon said, confirms his contribution to the community.

“He’s in a place where a lot of people would have given up, but he rebuilt his life around it,” Clark said. “He’s very inspirational.”

Inaugural Fortoberfest gets rolling with beer, bikes, bands

By Robert Allen

Fort Collins pedaled out its own version of Oktoberfest on Saturday with community staples of beer, bikes and bands.

Lucas Mellinger, 8, peddles to power a blender at the Fortoberfest, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Fort Collins. LENN STOUT / THE COLORADOAN

The event was light on lederhosen but heavy on satisfying suds.

“Anything that involves downtown and beer – how could you go wrong?” said Fortoberfest volunteer Brinda Hadeen after pouring a deep-brown pitcher of Sam Adams Chocolate Bock. “I love the chocolate”

She and Emily Molzahn, a Colorado State University grad student, poured beers from a large Odell Brewing Co. truck that contained about 14 kegs. Molzahn said she took part in the inaugural event to get outside on a nice day and chat with festivalgoers.

Down Walnut Street, Crankenstein co-owner and head mechanic Evan Rau worked on a man’s bicycle.

“I’m just helping people out with whatever they need,” he said, while turning parts on a shifter that had been sticking. “We try to bring a bike stand and tools wherever we go”

Rau said he didn’t expect the first-year event to draw much of a crowd, but there were more people than he expected.

Fortoberfest ran from Friday evening to Saturday night and included beer sampling trays and brew-themed events. Live music from numerous local bands was delivered through multiple stages, and festivalgoers were encouraged to park their bikes on site.

Other local breweries including New Belgium, Pateros Creek and Fort Collins Brewery among others offered a variety of selections on the streets closed to traffic in Old Town Fort Collins.

Bryce Newman, left, along with his wife Romy and daughter Verona dress in costume at the Fortoberfest, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Fort Collins.
Bryce Newman, left, along with his wife Romy and daughter Verona dress in costume at the Fortoberfest, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Fort Collins.
Lead singer for Widow’s Bane performs at the Fortoberfest, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Fort Collins.

Original Story – 09-22-2012 – Coloradoan

Fort Collins Bike Co-op rides on despite uncertain future

Original Story – 04-12-2012 – Collegian

By Jason Pohl

Nestled near an empty parking lot north of the summer crowds and busy shops of Old Town, the Fort Collins Bike Co-op awaits the onslaught of warm-weather cyclists, tourists and curious passersby — at least for now.

Photo Credit: Chase Baker
Alicia Leonardi, Fort Collins resident, works on her bike at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op. With the current location of the bike co-op for sale, they are on a search for a new, permanent location.

Currently in its 10th year serving the city with free maintenance help, bike advice and even a chance to earn a bike by volunteering, the land surrounding the co-op on North College Avenue is up for sale, prompting a scramble to find a more permanent location.

“When the right buyer comes along, they are going to want to level all the buildings, and build from scratch,” said John Taggart, a volunteer and vice president of the Bike Co-op’s board of directors. “Moving the co-op is quite an undertaking, so we’re hoping to find something more permanent.”

But that takes time and money, the sole source of which comes from donations and business through community awareness.

About the Fort Collins Bike Co-op

  • Volunteer-operated
  • Free tools, mechanics available for repairs
  • Take abandoned, used bikes, refurbish and sell or donate
  • Donates hundreds of bikes to countries in need, including Ghana
  • For more information or to get involved, visit

Relocating a cycle shop and thousands of parts and bikes may be tough, but it’s something the nonprofit and volunteer-driven organization has grown accustomed to during the years. Since its 2003 inception at a local garage, the co-op has moved almost a half-dozen times thanks to growth and a series of run-ins with tough renting situations. It has even moved each winter to a building that had heat — a luxury it had grown without.

But constantly changing locations doesn’t hinder the co-op’s main goal — to get the community riding while fostering knowledge of cycling maintenance and to put a two-wheeled-ride in the hands of everyone, including those who can’t afford it.

“I believe that everyone should get out and ride their bike,” Taggart said. “Why commute in a car and then go to the gym when you get home? Ride a bike and save the money. There’s very little road rage on the bike trail, and it’s rare to ever see even the slightest frown.”

The Bike Co-op reaches out around the community, including cycling education events and bike giveaways. It also works with the city to ensure abandoned rides stay out of landfills and even the most damaged or forgotten bike is stripped of valuable parts before being scrapped.

Perhaps the noblest program the co-op offers is Bikes for Ghana, which teams with the Village Bicycle Project and ships nearly 500 bikes each year to people who may look at the transit option as a luxury overseas.

“When you have to walk five miles each day to get clean water to cook with, a bike can be life changing,” Taggart said.

Doug Cutter, a volunteer mechanic and president of the co-op, said he enjoys meeting the people from all walks of life during his typical Sunday shift at the shop. The true value, he said, is teaching people how to use tools themselves, rather than just having someone fix your bike like at a typical bike shop.

The freedom helps, too.

“I particularly like that the co-op serves the full range of the Fort Collins demographic instead of just particular segments” he said. “Many co-op customers ride because that is their only mode of transportation.”

Though many students questioned were unaware of the opportunity to earn a free bike and learn how to fix it or even recycle old rides for a good cause, Sarah Hylander, a senior natural resource management major said the community — and student — support of the program will be key in its future success.

“I think the bike co-op brings publicity to the biking culture,” she said, explaining how different that lifestyle is from what many experience growing up in areas across the country. Using the knowledge and tools at the Bike Co-op, she said, was really empowering and contributes to Fort Collins being a “bastion of sustainability and forward thinking.”

“They’re putting themselves through a lot of tough times right now just to keep people biking,” she said. “That’s pretty honorable.”

Though Hylander said the nonprofit is run on “goals and ideals,” she and others affiliated with the project urge people to get involved. Whether a financial contribution or simply helping out a couple hours each week, Taggart, who has volunteered since 2007, said the value and contributions of the Fort Collins Bike Co-op far exceeds a simple list of numbers or facts.

Though the future and location of the program will likely change with the times, everyone involved believes in the mission of the Fort Collins Bike co-op and the future of cycling in the city.

To get involved or to learn more, visit

“It’s a constant battle, but to ensure that each of our customers gets our full attention, we strive to not spread our volunteers too thin,” Taggart said. “I’m normally very introverted, but my involvement with the co-op has introduced me to hundreds of new people.”

“It’s a wonderful family,” he added. “I met my fiance at the co-op. What more could I ask for?”

How safe is your bike?

As the number of Fort Collins bicycle thefts continues to rise year over year, many are asking …

As the number of Fort Collins bicycle thefts continues to rise year over year, many are asking …

By David Young
Original Story – 01-18-2012 – Coloradoan

When John Eklund bought a Yeti mountain bike on Craigslist last year, he never thought he would be searching the same website a month later for the same bicycle.

Bikes are locked Sunday to racks along South College Avenue in downtown Fort Collins. Lost, stolen and abandoned bikes are housed at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op at 331 N. College Ave.

Eklund was only able to ride his bike a few times before it was stolen, along with three other bikes, right out of his garage.

Eklund is not alone.

Bike thefts in Fort Collins are on the rise. In 2010, the latest data available, the city reports 747 bicycles were stolen in Fort Collins – a number that has gone up every year since 2006. Those numbers do not reflect thefts not reported.

Bicycles are often easy targets for criminals – they are mobile and often left unlocked or insecurely stored in dark alleys. Thieves can strip a bicycle for parts or resell it cheap.

It is a problem in Fort Collins that continues to grow each year, Dave “DK” Kemp, the city’s bicycle coordinator, said in an email. Stolen Bicycles

John Eklund and his wife, Lindsay Brinkman Eklund, became victims last year when four of their six bicycles, valued at about $7,500, were stolen from their garage.

In August, John Eklund said he got up in the middle of the night to check out a noise. After checking the perimeter of his house, he returned to bed, but forgot to close the garage door. The next morning, he awoke to find two mountain bikes, a road bike and a vintage Schwinn missing.


2006 – 552
2007 – 556
2008 – 679
2009 – 710
2010 – 747

•Write down bicycle serial numbers and take pictures of the bikes
• Register bikes with local law enforcement or the National Bike Registry
•File a report with local police if stolen
• Insure bicycles

“It was pretty unreal at first,” John Eklund said. “It took me a second to realize there was a lot of space in here (the garage). Then, it clicked.”

The Eklunds said they immediately contacted police and filed a report. While they had photos of all the bikes, they were only able to provide the serial number for the Specialized road bike. They watched Craigslist to see if the bikes would appear – they even rode around town looking for them on occasion.

Nothing turned up. That is, until a few months later, when John Eklund was out to lunch.

He was returning to work from Justine’s Pizza when he noticed a familiar looking bike chained up in front of JCPenney. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was the stolen road bike. He called police who verified the serial number.

The officer was prepared to drill the heavy duty chain lock for them, when a store employee stepped forward and claimed the bike, they said.

Eklund said the man told him that he bought the bike at a moving sale in Weld County for $130. He turned the bike back to the Eklunds, admitting that the deal was too good to be true. The bike retailed for $1,200 and was worth at least $650, said Brinkman Eklund.

While insurance covered the loss of the other bikes, the Eklunds said the theft left them feeling violated and a bit insecure in their own home.

The couple is in the process of constructing a bike rack in the garage that can be locked.

The Eklunds’ experience is shared by many others.

Lauren Hoff, 24, lives in Old Town and works at Pateros Creek Brewing. In July, she left her Trek road bike and an old Schwinn cruiser unlocked on her enclosed porch overnight. The screen door was unlocked and her Schwinn was gone in the morning.

Hoff said she never understood why the thief took the Schwinn – worth about $150 – when there was the $1,500 Trek sitting next to it.

While the bike had little monetary value, it had a lot of sentimental value for Hoff. The bike belonged to her roommate, Mary Warren, who was killed by a drunken driver on Interstate 25 on July 5, 2010.

Hoff never reported the theft to the police, because she said reporting it would be a “waste of time,” but she did keep an eye on Craigslist.

The bike never turned up, but Hoff makes sure to secure her bike inside now. Protecting Bicycles

The reason bike thefts are on the rise is because there are more cyclists and bicycles each year as Fort Collins grows as a bicycling community, Kemp said.

“Being a bike-friendly community, thieves may target Fort Collins rather than Loveland and Greeley simply because there is a high number of cyclists,” Kemp said.

Of 685 bikes reported stolen in 2010, only 60 were recovered, according to Fort Collins police statistics.

Jim Szakmeister, captain of the patrol division with Fort Collins Police Department, said bicycles are a popular item for people to steal either for a joy ride or to resell. He attributes the increased thefts to CSU’s population and the fact that Fort Collins is a bicycle savvy community.

Szakmeister knows firsthand what it’s like to lose a bike; he had his stolen one night when he forgot to close his garage. The majority of bike thefts occur when a garage is left open or a bike is unlocked. Some bike locks are clipped, but Szakmeister said that is the minority of thefts.

Szakmeister said bike thefts have risen on his radar in the past six months and he would like to be able to combat it more, but said it is hard unless owners have the serial number.

Like the city, CSU has seen an increase in bike thefts on campus

Joy Childress, CSU traffic and bicycle education and enforcement program coordinator, said bicycle thefts spike during winter or summer breaks.

“I think biking has become more sociably cool,” she said. “It is definitely on the rise – I see a correlation.”

Along with the increase in thefts, Childress said, they have seen more bikes registered on campus. Cyclists on campus are required to pay $10 to register their bikes with the campus police. That information is also shared with local and regional police departments.

In an effort to stop the growing number of bike thefts, Fort Collins Police, the city of Fort Collins and CSU police along with some residents are exploring possible bicycle sting operations to bust bicycle theft rings, said Kemp.

Police work in tandem with the Fort Collins Bike Co-op to help return stolen bikes to the proper owner.

Rick Price, Fort Collins bike co-op safe cycling coordinator and chairman of the bike advisory committee, said bike thefts are an issue in any university town.

While he has a hunch that a lot of bike thefts are the result of carelessness on the owners’ behalf, he said a lot of people in town use bikes as a primary form of transportation and there are not enough racks to accommodate them.

As a result, many bikes end up chained in alleyways and outside apartments where they are easy targets for thieves.

The Bike Co-op handles all of Fort Collins’ recovered bikes. Each recovered bike is logged, tagged and filed in its database.

A Co-op group – Bicycle Army Retrieval Squad – or BARS, combs Fort Collins to pick up any abandoned bikes. The Bike Co-op cross references its recovered bikes with the police department’s stolen bike reports once a week. If there is a match, the Co-op will contact the officer in charge of the case to help victims get their bikes back.

In 2011, BARS recovered 222 bikes and returned 11 of those back to owners, according to Paul Lugo, Bike Co-op database manager.

Laura Rogge, abandoned bike coordinator, said the remaining bikes are used for education programs or donated, but never sold.

In some cases, Rogge has tracked down owners who were unaware the bikes were even missing.

“It (found bikes) comes in waves and varies greatly. I don’t know what causes it,” said Rogge, who recovers about five bikes a week in the spring through fall.

The Facebook group “Fort Collins Stolen Bike Report” and “Stolen Bikes Colorado” page is dedicated to helping recover stolen bicycles. The pages are littered with posts and photos of stolen bikes that cyclists are looking to retrieve.

Larimer County recognizes environmental stewards

By Coloradoan Staff

Original Story – 12-13-2011 – Coloradoan

The Larimer County commissioners have announced the 2011 Larimer County Environmental Stewardship Awards:

  • The Fort Collins Bicycle Co-op for its comprehensive actions designed to make bicycles and bicycle riders sustainable: Those include safety education programs and refurbishing bikes that were abandoned and returning them to the community.
  • RB+B Architects for its Sustainability Management System: Principle elements of the plan relate to carbon emissions, health and well being, waste reduction, sustainable materials, and culture and community.
  • Redstone Mitigators for its example of how a community can work together to achieve common forest management and wildfire safety goals: Community members work every Saturday from Novem-ber to February to cut down and stack trees marked for removal. Funds from a Colorado State Forest Service grant are spent in the spring when a contractor with heavy equipment chips the wood waste onsite.
  • The Growing Project for its efforts to connect community members to each other, their food, and their land through urban agriculture and community gardening: The project has implemented a series of efforts ranging from community gardens to a .Glean Team. that cooperates with farmers to harvest food that might otherwise be wasted for delivery to the Food Bank for Larimer County.
  • Irene Little for her efforts on behalf of recycling opportunities in the Estes Park area: As chairperson for the League of Women Voters community recycling committee in Estes Park, Little has worked on a number of projects, including the introduction of cardboard recycling, the promotion of reusable shopping bags, and a community recycling program in Bond Park.

The environmental stewardships awards have been given annually since 1995.

McWhinney backs out of Block 23 deal

By Pat Ferrier

An entire city block in Old Town Fort Collins is back on the market.

McWhinney, the Loveland development company that built Centerra, has pulled out of a contract to buy the underdeveloped block on North College Avenue between Maple and Cherry streets, also known as Block 23.

Company representatives said they couldn’t make the economics work for the kind of project they envisioned – about 300 apartments, office and retail space and a parking garage.

The 3.49 acres previously owned by Realtor Michael Jensen went into foreclosure earlier this year and is owned by Bank of Choice.

It is a large and tough site for apartments, said Kevin Brinkman, principal with Brinkman Partners, which is listing the property for sale.

Even with near-record-low vacancy rates “we need rents to come up in that trade area before it really works well.”

Brinkman said he has another group “interested in taking a hard look” at the property. “Everyone wants the right development there. It’s a matter of finding the right group, the right mix. The bank is willing to take its time.”

For the past four weeks, the property has been home to Occupy Fort Collins, a small group of activists supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City.

The loosely affiliated movement that began last month is peacefully protesting the power of the financial and political sectors.

Police accompanied bank officials to the site Friday and posted “no trespassing” signs on the property, giving protesters until Monday to either move to the sidewalk or elsewhere in the city.

The activists complied, took down the tents they had erected to stay warm and have largely moved to the sidewalk.

Mike Hill, senior director of multifamily development and operations for McWhinney, said McWhinney dropped its pending contract before the Occupy movement or the fire that destroyed an apartment building under construction one block west.

Jensen once heralded the block, known as Block 23, as a key location for a proposed downtown hotel.

While McWhinney won’t be building in Old Town at this juncture, the company is negotiating another site in Fort Collins on which to build higher-end apartments, Hill said.

“They will be Class A market rentals with top quality for the region and Fort Collins.”

The site is not in Old Town but Doug Hill, chief operating officer, declined comment on where in Fort Collins it is.

McWhinney has not submitted any preliminary plans to the city of Fort Collins as of Monday.

McWhinney has been building apartments by the hundreds in Loveland. Last year, it built a $45 million, 303-unit luxury apartment complex, Lake Vista, and in March broke ground on 252 units on the Van de Water property off U.S. Highway 34.

Original Story – 11-07-2008 – Coloradoan

Time change creates hazards for commuters

By Lauren Lang

FORT COLLINS – Switching the clocks back from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time in the fall requires an adjustment for everyone, including motorists, who have to get used to driving home when it’s darker.

However, the change can prove dangerous for commuters. According to the Fort Collins Bike Co-op, the earlier sunset typically causes an increase in vehicle-versus-cyclist and pedestrian accidents for the first few weeks after the time change in the fall.

In order to avoid accidents, the co-op encourages bikers and motorists to avoid distractions while driving and obey all traffic laws, including having visible reflectors or lights on the front, back and side of their bicycles.

However, according to Rick Price, the Safe Cycling Coordinator at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op, there are additional steps cyclists can take to increase their visibility as motorists adjust to the time change.

“If your bike doesn’t have pedal reflectors, go to the bike co-op or go to the bike store and get pedal reflectors on them because that’s one of the most visible things on the bike,” Price told 9NEWS. “As those pedals are going up and down a car behind you will see them immediately. They’re tiny, but they’re highly visible.”

Price also says retro reflective bicycle tires and brightly colored clothing such as yellow jackets or vests with retro reflective tape will also help make cyclists more visible.

However drivers that would like an additional reminder to pay extra attention to cyclists can get it for free in the form the co-op’s “Watch for Bikes” sticker. The sticker is intended to be placed on the rear or side view mirror or on the windshield of a vehicle to remind drivers that cyclists can be more difficult to see this time of year.

The co-op began giving the stickers away in February 2010 and has since handed out over 9,000 of them.

Anyone who would like to receive a sticker can request one through the Co-op’s website at

Original Story – 11-06-2011 –

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