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