Fort Collins bike co-op among finalists for grant

By TREVOR HUGHES

The Fort Collins bike co-op is one of 10 finalists for a $10,000 grant to give free bike tours around Old Town and city bike paths to tourists and residents.

Clorox, which makes Green Works natural cleaners, is giving out five grants to organizations across the country. The finalists were selected by the Sierra Club, The Lazy Environmentalist and ecofabulous.com.People can vote online until Friday to select the five winners, which will be announced April 22.

Rick Price, a member of the board of directors for the Bicycle Cooperative of Fort Collins, entered the contest on the co-op’s behalf. Price founded the Fort Collins-based bike touring company now known as ExperiencePlus.

Under Price’s application, the co-op would work in partnership with the Fort Collins bike library to offer guided tours of the city. Price said he envisions easy rides that get people acquainted with the Choice City, giving them “a taste of all the possibilities.”

Price said: “It gives the visitor, even people who live here who haven’t had an opportunity, to get out on the trails.”

Price said he’s heard from many senior citizens in the community that they’d like to get back on their bikes but are reluctant to do so because they haven’t ridden in decades.

Other finalists for the grants include backers of a 30-mile recreational trail from Grants Pass to Central Point in Oregon, a worm farm at a Brooklyn school and a group of Tennessee high school students working to persuade parents to shut off their vehicles while waiting outside the building.

The co-op, which recently was certified as a nonprofit by the IRS, is a longtime volunteer organization that helps keep bikes out of landfills and supports community cycling efforts.

Volunteers have helped rebuild most of the bikes in the city’s popular bike library by stripping down abandoned and donated bikes and adding new parts. The co-op also hosts the popular Earn-A-Bike program in which volunteers, including the homeless, can earn their way to their own ride.

Price said the tours would be a little outside the co-op’s normal mission, but he said he believes winning the grant and giving the tours would help raise awareness of the organization and the city’s biking culture.

Original Story – 04-06-2009 – Coloradoan

Bike library goes into winter mode, plans a big spring

By Trevor Hughes

Fort Collins’ bike library is about to start gearing down for the winter, but managers say they’re planning for major expansion come spring.

The library, funded in large part by a federal grant, lets people borrow bikes for free, for up to a week at a time. Since it opened April 5, more than 1,700 different people have checked out a bike, reducing vehicle trips by an estimated 15,958 miles, city bike coordinator Dave “DK” Kemp said.

Robert Brischetto of San Antonio, Texas, fills out the forms and credit card information Friday now required to check out a bike at the bike library at Old Town Square. (Michael G. Seamans/The Coloradoan)

“So many bits and pieces of the community came together to make this happen,” Kemp said.

Today, the library has about 130 bikes to loan, and Kemp said he hopes to have about 220 by this time next year. The library started out with abandoned bikes collected by the police department and rebuilt largely by volunteers, but it recently received 30 bikes used during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

During the summer, all of the library’s bikes typically were checked out all of the time. As soon as one was returned, it would go right back out the door. Bike library workers said they’ve actually seen patrons at area restaurants leave mid-meal so they could secure a bike.

Kemp said the first season of operation helped iron out a number of wrinkles in the library, which has two locations, in Old Town Square and at the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op at 222 LaPorte Ave.

First, library workers discovered that homeless people were checking out the bikes so they could travel around the city and find work. In order to keep the library bikes available for visitors, Kemp and FC Bikes worked with Bike Fort Collins and the bike co-op to help outfit the most frequent homeless users with bikes of their own. People earned bikes by volunteering at least 15 hours at the co-op.

Second, Kemp said, too many bikes were coming back with bent rims, broken spokes and other relatively large mechanical problems. “People were abusing the bikes,” he said. The solution: Every library user must now provide a credit card imprint. Kemp said attaching a value to the bikes significantly reduced breakage. “It made people more respectful.”

The library is switching to winter hours later this month, cutting its Friday hours entirely. Patrons will be able to check out bikes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Kemp said he believes the library will continue to have customers during the winter because snows that fall on Fort Collins typically melt off the streets and sidewalks quickly.

This spring, the library plans to open a new branch on the Colorado State University campus, Kemp said. And he said he hopes to acquire additional bikes that can be assigned to local hotels for use by their guests.

“I think we’re going to have a big spring,” he said.

The typical bike library user is an out-of-town visitor with friends or relatives in the area, Kemp said.

The bike library is being funded with a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant, which aims to help municipalities find ways to reduce vehicle traffic and air pollution. Kemp said the library believes it has kept 7.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the air because people are using the bikes instead of cars.

The League of American Bicyclists in September ranked Fort Collins as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country, specifically noting the library as a reason for its promotion from “silver” to “gold” status.

Original Story – 11-02-2008 – Coloradoan

Fort Collins’ bike library gearing up for big spring

By Trevor Hughes

Fort Collins bike library is about to start gearing down for the winter, but managers say they’re planning for major expansion come spring.

The library, funded in large part by a federal grant, lets people borrow bikes for free, for up to a week at a time. Since it opened on April 5, more than 1,700 different people have checked out a bike, reducing vehicle trips by an estimated 15,958 miles, said city bike coordinator Dave “DK” Kemp.

“So many bits and pieces of the community came together to make this happen” Kemp said.

Today, the library has about 130 bikes to loan, and Kemp said he hopes to have about 220 by this time next year. The library started out with abandoned bikes collected by the police department and rebuilt largely by volunteers, but recently received 30 bikes used during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

During the summer, all of the library’s bikes were typically in use all of the time. As soon as one was returned, it would go right back out the door. Bike library workers said they’ve actually seen patrons at area restaurants leave mid-meal so they could secure a bike.

Kemp said the first season of operation helped iron out a number of wrinkles in the library, which has two locations, in Old Town Square and at the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op at 222 LaPorte Ave.

First, library workers discovered that homeless people were checking out the bikes so they could travel around the city and find work. In order to keep the library bikes available for visitors, Kemp and FC Bikes worked with the Bike Fort Collins and the bike co-op to help outfit the most frequent homeless users with bikes of their own. People earned bikes by volunteering at least 15 hours at the co-op.

Second, Kemp said, too many bikes were coming back with bent rims, broken spokes and other relatively large mechanical problems. “People were abusing the bikes,” he said. The solution: Every library user must now provide a credit card imprint. Kemp said attaching a value to the bikes significantly reduced breakage. “It made people more respectful.”

The library is switching to winter hours later this month, cutting its Friday hours entirely. Patrons will be able to check out bikes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Kemp said he believes the library will continue to have customers during the winter because snows that do fall on Fort Collins typically melt off the streets and sidewalks quickly.

This spring, the library plans to open a new branch on the CSU campus, Kemp said. And he said he hopes to acquire additional bikes that can be assigned to local hotels for use by their guests.

“I think we’re going to have a big spring,” he said.

The typical bike library user is an out-of-town visitor with friends or relatives in the area, Kemp said.

The bike library is being funded with a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant, which aims to help municipalities find ways to reduce vehicle traffic and air pollution. Kemp said the library believes it has kept 7.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the air because people are using the bikes instead of cars.

Original Story – 10-31-2008 – Coloradoan

Pedals of empowerment

By: Jason Blevins

Carla Quist slowly spins her pedals along the gravel driveway, testing her purple mountain bike.

It doesn’t look like much, but the brakes are good. It shifts smoothly. The tires are new.

People in need of refurbished bikes work at Derailer Bicycle Collective, where they have a variety of bike hardware, tools and rims from which to choose. (Photos by Karl Gehring, The Denver Post )

“I had to push it here,” she says with a shy smile. “I don’t know what I’d do without this place. I sure wouldn’t be riding without them.”

Thanks to a team of volunteers at the Derailer Bicycle Collective, Quist can now pedal to her doctor. To her church. To the park.

“These guys save me a lot of walking,” she says.

Now in its sixth year, Derailer has helped thousands like Quist — down-and-outers who struggle to make bus fare — find some two-wheeled freedom. From a humble warehouse at 411 Lipan St., a hustling crew of volunteer bike mechanics does more than ration free bikes and parts to a steady stream of Denver’s needy.

“Our emphasis is having people learn to work on their own bikes,” says Benji Nelson, a five-year volunteer at Derailer.

Nelson, his hands black with bike grease and his worn blue jeans even blacker, checks a list of scribbled names on a yellow tablet and begins a new bike project, a custom build with a man named Juan. Some, like Quist, come looking for a repair. Others, like Juan, need a new ride.

Behind the warehouse, a multihued yard of miscellaneous metal provides the beginning. First-timers can pick a frame from a pile cresting the top of an 8-foot chain-link fence. A stack of wheels reaches the roof of the warehouse.

Crates of fading seats, handlebars and pedals await selection. Everything is either scavenged from scrap yards or donated.

Inside, pyramids of parts form islands in a sea of tools and bike stands. Mechanics patiently teach, starting with the most basic “righty-tighty, left-loosey” and proceeding all the way up to tricky installations of bottom brackets and bearings.

The line outside can grow a hundred deep during the busy summer season. Tattered bench seats from ancient cars provide respite for those waiting for an opportunity to pedal.

“After a few years here, I realize now how profound a difference a bike can make in some people’s lives,” Nelson says during a rare break in the four-hour shift. “It can get you a job and to a job. It can get you home. It can get you to a doctor, to help. A free bike is a free bike, but a free bike you built yourself means a little more. It’s something you created.”

There’s a little hope with each bike that leaves the shop.

“These guys are doing such a good thing,” says Gerardo Leyba as he tests his new-found transport, a dinged-up but functional 10-speed. “Lots of people can use this kind of help.”

There are more than a 100 similar nonprofit outfits in the U.S., including at least six in Colorado.

The bike collectives in Colorado serve varying purposes. The new Bike Depot in Park Hill has distributed almost 500 rides to neighborhood residents since opening in April and teaches kids about bike maintenance. The Spokes Community Bicycle Project in Boulder fixes up bikes for communities in Africa. Boulder’s Community Cycles uses donated rides to teach bike repair and maintenance as well as promote cycling. The Fort Collins Bicycle Co-op teaches bike repair and stocks the community’s popular bike library.

Recycle Bicycles has given away almost 7,000 bikes to kids and struggling adults since its inception in 2004.

“A bike is an empowering thing, especially for someone down on their luck,” says Recycle Bicycles’ Bruce Lien, a retired Adams County schoolteacher who now converts old rides into new from his home in Pine. “It can become their sole reliance, and it can lead to a job, security.”

Alsup Elementary principal Lynn Heintzman has given away more than 300 Recycle Bicycles at her school. Kids recognized for a variety of achievement milestones get a shot at winning one of Lien’s recycled bikes.

“The bikes are such a hit,” Heintzman says. “We give away as many as we can. It’s fantastic program.”

More than a third of Colorado citizens can’t or don’t drive, says Dan Grunig, executive director of Bicycle Colorado. Those are folks most likely to choose a bike for transportation. The more pedalers there are, Grunig says, the more biker-friendly Colorado’s streets will become.

“The co-ops are fulfilling a need, for sure,” Grunig says. “I wish we had one in every community.”


Community Cycles
2805 Wilderness Pl., Boulder
720-565-6019
communitycycles.org

Fort Collins Bicycle Co-op
222 Laporte Ave., Fort Collins
970-484-3804
fcbikecoop.org

Spokes Community Bicycle Project
spokesforfolksbicycles.org

The Bike Depot
2825 Fairfax St., Denver
303-393-1963
thebikedepot.org

Recycle Bicycles
303-908-7982
Recyclebicyles.net

Derailer Bicycle Collective
411 Lipan, Denver
303-893-0305
derailerbicyclecollective.org

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374 or jblevins@denverpost.com

Original Story – 10-10-2008 – denverpost.com

Council has wisdom to pass bike plan revisions

Submitted on behalf of the boards of directors of Bike Fort Collins and the Fort Collins Bike CO-op

City Council on Tuesday will review the revision of the world-class 1995 City “Bicycle Program Plan.” The revision is a good plan and City Council should approve it with a minor change and the creation of a Citizens’ Bicycle Advisory Committee.

The 1995 plan noted: “Here in Fort Collins ,we have all the ingredients necessary to become one of America’s premier, “bicycle-friendly” communities. People here are concerned about issues, such as air quality, traffic congestion and quality of life. There’s a positive attitude in the community about exploring innovative approaches to building a city that will accommodate new growth in a positive, creative way while protecting basic values.”

The timing of this revision is propitious as last week we learned that Fort Collins was awarded the Gold level as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Eight other communities in the nation enjoy this designation along with three that have the Platinum level. The bike plan should be approved with the stated goal of having Fort Collins achieve the Platinum level by 2012.

The Gold level award is a tribute to many people not the least of whom are those who wrote the initial plan and the City’s Transportation Planning, Parks and Natural Resource staff who have implemented it. Indeed, staff did such a good job for so many years that some of us forgot to watch what was going on. So when we nearly lost the city’s bicycle coordinator to budget cuts in 2005 cyclists in town rallied and showered City Council with requests to reconsider. They did and gave us a half-time bicycle coordinator for two years. That has now become a full-time bike coordinator who, in cooperation with local advocacy groups has brought in grants or contracts on the order of $400,000 in the last 18 months.

Grass roots action by local bicyclists has resulted in a several feathers in the community’s cycling cap: a world-class bicycle lending “library,” which is the envy of scores of communities across the country; a grass roots Bike Co-op; National Collegiate Road Cycling Championships hosted in Fort Collins in 2008, 2009 and perhaps beyond; world-class bikeways, lanes and paths; and approximately 10 times the national average of trips to work and school by bicycle. All this has led to Gold Level recognition.

We believe City Council will have the wisdom to approve the Bike Plan Revision, especially since it involves little cost to the city (80 percent of the bicycle facilities in the city are paid by monies from outside our general fund and from outside the community). Council members need to recognize, however, the role that residents have played in these achievements and they need create a permanent Citizens’ Bicycle Advisory Committee to continue this process. Make no mistake: City staff does a great job. Together we could do even more with continued public/private/nonprofit involvement.

If you are a cyclist, please join us at 6 p.m. Tuesday in City Council Chambers, 300 LaPorte Ave.

Rick Price and Archie Solsky co-founded Bike Fort Collins in 2005. This Soapbox was submitted on behalf of the boards of directors of Bike Fort Collins and the Fort Collins Bike CO-op. Visit Bike Fort Collins at www.BikeFortCollins.org and Fort Collins Bike Co-op at www.FCBikeCoop.org

Original Story – 10-06-2008 – Coloradoan

Bicycle library popularity a turn up for the books

By Steve Graff, Fort Collins, Colorado

THE price of petrol was a good enough reason for Amanda Gilson, a student at Colorado State University, to sell her SUV and jump on a bike – even if she only gets to ride it every other week. “You have to let other people use them,” she said.

Ever since the Fort Collins Bike Library, which offers free bike rentals, opened its doors last northern spring, it has been juggling an excess of riders with a shortage of bikes.

“It’s a great program,” said Jeff Morrell, president of Bike Fort Collins. “We just need more volume.” Anyone with an ID and email address can borrow a bike for up to a week from the library’s two stations. But they have to get in line first.

Since the library opened on April 5, the waiting list for a bike on Fridays and at weekends can be up to six people deep. To keep up with the demand, the library boosted the fleet from 20 bikes to 60. They’re hoping for 200 by summer 2009. The fleet is mostly made up of bikes that went unclaimed after being recovered by Fort Collins police.

About 600 riders have checked out bikes since the library opened. For the past couple of months, Ms Gilson and her boyfriend, who use bikes to get to class and work, have been able to borrow a bike only every other week.

Because bikes are such a hot item in Fort Collins, some people are willing to buy one. “When they realise we don’t have any free bikes, they go and pay for bikes,” Mr Morrell said.

The city’s bike shops caught wind of the demand and started renting out bikes again, he said.

Dave “DK” Kemp, who helped start the library with federal grant money, predicts four more bike stations around the city by next year.D

Original Story – 07-22-2008 – theage.com.au

Decision to keep money local means Fort Collins’ bike library short…

By: TREVOR HUGHES

The city’s decision to refurbish old bicycles instead of buying new ones from China means the Fort Collins Bike Library is lagging well behind initial projections of having 220 bikes available to lend by the end of the summer.

Instead, the library will have only 120 bikes available by the end of summer. The library, which this summer has experienced shoving matches between riders fighting over the free-to-borrow bikes, has about 70 bikes to lend right now.

Organizers said the delay in getting additional bikes is also a result of the federal government’s tardiness is turning over the grant money making the library possible.

To make up for the delay, the library is now also buying new bikes, while ramping up refurbishment of abandoned bikes collected by police.

“Instead of paying another vendor from China more money for new bikes, we were able to pay local Fort Collins bike mechanics to fix up bikes that already existed in our community, thus keeping the project and the spending local,” said city bike coordinator Dave “DK” Kemp. “Plus, with a smaller amount of bikes to start off with, we were able to manage the program with more success and we were able to work out the bugs. We will still incorporate refurbished, repainted bikes into the library program, but to meet current demands, we are now also buying new bicycles.”

Kemp said he believes there’s such a great demand of bike loans in Fort Collins that the library would likely have seen waiting lists even if it had 400 bikes to loan.

The library has been oversubscribed since it opened on April 5.

The library is a free service paid for with a federal clean-air grant funneled through the city, in partnership with Bike Fort Collins and the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op.

Original Story – 08-04-2008 – Coloradoan

Free bike library service booming in Fort Collins

The Fort Collins Bike Library plans to quadruple the number of bikes available to loan by next spring after finding itself dramatically and happily oversubscribed.

The library permits anyone with an ID and an e-mail address to borrow a bike for a week at a time. The library started with 50 bright red bikes this spring, officials said.

“We are a victim of our own success,” Jeff Morrell, president of Bike Fort Collins. “There’s a waiting list every week.”

That’s sort of an understatement: The manager of the Old Town Square branch said people have actually darted away from half-eaten meals in the plaza to snag a newly returned bike. Another woman was so reluctant to return it that the police were nearly called, he said.

“The demand for bikes in this community is more than we can fulfill,” said library manager Chris Pranskatis. “Any problems we’ve had stem from the fact that people are desperate for bicycles.”

Morrell said the library is considering changing its policies to require a credit card imprint, just to ensure all the bikes are returned.

Homeless men and women are regularly using the service, and organizers say they need to balance making bikes available to them with the need to ensure the bikes make it back at the end of the week-long rental period.

Morrell said bike library workers are having to “pester” some library users to return their bikes. Pranskatis said it’s actually gone as far as having library volunteers track down the homeless men and women who haven’t returned the bikes as promised so they can take the bikes back.

On the wall of the Old Town Square library location, a “Hall of Shame” lists the names of 10 people who are no longer allowed to borrow bikes.

But on the flip side, Pranskatis said, one formerly homeless man borrowed a bike and used it to ride to job interviews. He returned the loaner bike recently, proud of his new job and his own bike.

On a recent Friday afternoon, new Fort Collins residents Michael Roberts and Kayla McMahon stopped to borrow a pair of bikes. The two were moving from upstate New York to Denver but fell in love with the Choice City on a chance stop a few days before.

“It’s perfect. And we’re stoked about the bikes,” Roberts said. “We’re going to ride them and learn the city.”

Since the library opened April 5, more than 500 people have borrowed bikes, Morrell said.

The bikes come from abandoned or unclaimed stolen bikes collected by Fort Collins police; they are stripped down and rebuilt before being loaned out.

The library also takes donations of used bikes from the public but right now is struggling to find enough volunteers to help strip them down and rebuild them into the single-speed models typically loaned out.

Morrell said the library is working with hotels to provide them bikes to loan to guests.

That’s the kind of thinking that Dave “DK” Kemp, the city’s bike coordinator, hopes will keep flourishing.

“A lot of people have friends who come into town on vacation and they can’t bring their bikes,” he said.

The University of Colorado at Boulder announced recently it is considering issuing bikes to freshmen in an effort to reduce the number of cars on campus.

Cody Gieselman, a coordinator with the Bike Library in Iowa City, said college students are some of that library’s biggest users. The Iowa City library permits people to take bikes for up to six months after leaving a deposit. If they keep the bike longer, the library keeps the deposit.

Gieselman said her library, which opened in 2004, shares the same problem as Fort Collins: “We can’t keep up supply with demand.”

She said dedicated volunteers are critical to keeping the library running. The Iowa City library has loaned out more than 600 bikes since it opened, she said.

Fort Collins’ library started with 50 bikes and expects to have 100 by the end of the summer and 200 by next spring.

The bike library is a free service paid for with a federal clean-air grant funneled through the city, in partnership with Bike Fort Collins and the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op.

Original Story – 06-30-2008 – Coloradoan

Original Story – 07-08-2008 – Denver Post

Original Story – 07-08-2008 – Examiner.com

Original Story – 07-12-2008 – thedenverchannel.com

Original Story – 07-15-2008 – CBS 4 Denver

Bike library’s a positive contribution

Demand, funding, volunteers will ensure ongoing success

Libraries aren’t just for books. They can be for bikes, too.

The success of the Fort Collins Bike Library deserves to be applauded. Starting with 50 red bikes this spring, the program that allows Fort Collins residents and visitors to check out bikes for a limited time is expected to grow to 100 bicycles by this fall.

Demand for the free service is so high that one library volunteer told the Coloradoan that people are “desperate” for bikes. The service is funded through a federal clean-air grant with the city in partnership with Bike Fort Collins and the Fort Collins Bike Co-op.

Borrowers get a bike and all the benefits of cycling, including free transportation, increased health and knowing they are helping to clear the air. Users have included visitors, college students and retirees – all seeking a convenient way to get around town.

About the only downfall is that some, including homeless men and women, haven’t returned their bikes on time, forcing library volunteers to track them down. The library is considering the use of credit-card imprints to ensure bikes make their way back to the program.

The continuation of this success will depend on several factors: demand (which seems ensured); funding and volunteer support; and availability of bikes. Similar bike-lending programs have failed due to one or all of the above. Currently, bikes for the library come from unclaimed stolen bikes from the Fort Collins police. The bikes are stripped down, rebuilt and painted before they are loaned out. Still, there aren’t enough volunteers to restore donated bikes.

We hope the Fort Collins Bike Library, with its local popularity, continues with this free and beneficial service.

Original Story – 07-10-2008 – Coloradoan

Check out Fort Collins atop a rebuilt cruiser

By: Jacob Whitsitt

The Fort Collins Bike Library offers its members a way to get around town, enjoy the scenery or see if they’re up to the challenge of leaving their car behindfor free.

The library opened on April 5, with the help of three bicycle-friendly organizations: Bike Fort Collins, The Fort Collins Bike Co-Op and FC Bikes, the city’s bike program. Originally, the program was meant to make Fort Collins an even friendlier cyclist community, says Bike Library manager Chris Pranskatis.

In its short life, the bike library has morphed into something even bigger, drawing all kinds of people checking out bikes for every reason imaginable.

Affluent? Homeless? It doesn’t matter. You need a bike, and you’re welcome to borrow one, for a day or for a week. “It’s open to anyone,” Pranskatis says.

Although checking a bike out is free, the library requires participants to become members and present valid identification.

Membership — basically the completion of a short form — helps the library keep track of the bikes without being too restrictive.

Since April, the library has lent a fleet of 40 bikes to 248 riders, and only one has been lost. Two bikes went missing for a while but eventually were returned.

To ensure members are careful with the bikes, the library provides a lock. The bikes are also conspicuous, with a big “Bike Library” sign affixed to the frame, that is supposed to discourage theft.

All the bikes at the library come from donations or from reconstructed bikes that were either abandoned or confiscated by police and never reclaimed by their owners, Pranskatis said.

Today, the library is run by a group of about 20 volunteers and a federal grant. Members can check out bikes at Cafe Bicyclette in Old Town Square, open 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, or at the Bike Co-Op, 222 LaPorte Ave., during the week.

Pranskatis hopes to see the number of check-out locations grow. “Ideally, we’d like to expand the number of check-out stations and fleet of bicycles, to create a web of stations all over town so people can access a bike from almost any location in the city.”

For more information about donating to or volunteering for the Fort Collins Bike Library, or to become a member, visit fcbikelibrary.org.

Original Story – 05-19-2008 – Denver Post