By: Tim Keith

Dan and Ronnie Lipp came to Fort Collins for the first time in 1992 while on vacation.

The trip was only their second visit into Colorado.

Among their first experiences in town was a bike ride on one of the many paths Fort Collins has to offer.

“This is one of the things that attracted us,” Ronnie said.

The couple moved to Colorado from New York 12 years ago.

Michael G. Seamans/The Coloradoan – Matt McCune walks his bike Saturday past the new Bike Library in Old Town Square in Fort Collins.

The Lipps told a captive audience of volunteers and organizers about that first Fort Collins experience Saturday morning at the opening of the city’s Bike Library.

The new library has 50 available bikes and hopes to expand to 200, said Rafael Cletero, the library’s fleet manager and director of the co-op.

There are two locations were bikes can be borrowed: a kiosk on the north side of Old Town Square and at 222 LaPorte Ave., the location of the Fort Collins Bike Co-op.

The Lipps’ story and stories like it are the reason the library is opening, said Chris Pranskatis, the library’s volunteer coordinator.

The library lends bikes to the public, free of charge. Lenders can borrow a bike for up to a week.

The bikes were donated by Fort Collins police and refurbished with the help of the Fort Collins Bike Co-op, he said.

“It’s really a collaborative of a number of organizations,” Pranskatis said.

The library is funded by a $132,000 federal grant for reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality and $33,000 in matching donations from local groups.

It is staffed by volunteers.

“It’s great to get people out and exploring the town (on a) bike,” Pranskatis said. “It’s a friendly way to explore the town. It’s great for the fabric of the community.”

The bikes will help improve air quality in Fort Collins, Cletero said.

“If you get 25 people (borrowing bikes) in one day, that’s 25 less cars on the road,” he said.

The new library and the co-op are important to the unique atmosphere of Fort Collins, City Councilman Wade Troxell said. The community is an outdoors-focused place.

“There’s nothing better than biking in Fort Collins on a day like today,” Troxell said.

Original Story – 04-06-2008 – Coloradoan