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