As Fort Collins grows, both from newcomers moving in from elsewhere and younger generations being born and growing up within the city, the percentage of people who have lived here for decades and remember the history of the city dwindles. But it’s important to realize that there are many who have gone before us, paving the way for the (comparatively) bike friendly city that we find ourselves in today.
While researching a post for the local history blog that I write, Forgotten Fort Collins, I came across an article on the creation of the city’s first bicycle lanes. What follows is the piece in its entirety from the November 15, 1963 Fort Collins Coloradoan (as found on microfilm at the Fort Collins Archive) with a retyped version following (for anyone using a text reader).
To get a sense of how quickly the city was growing, the population had been 14,937 in 1950. By 1960, it had reached 25,027. And at the 1970 census, it had skyrocketed to 43,337 people. In the early ’50s, it was safe for a kid on a bike to travel from one end of town (around City Park) to the other end of town (around Prospect and Lemay). But as the population grew the number of cars on the streets increased and a bicycle safety group began to call for bike lanes.
Bicycle Safety Plan Urged by Citizens’ Group
A proposal by the Citizens Advisory Committee on City Planning for a bicycle safety program, with the establishment of bicycle lanes on certain streets as the first phase, is being studied by City Manager Robert F. Boos.
The Poudre R 1 Board of Education and the City Council have indicated general sympathy with the plan, which calls for separation of automobile and bicycle traffic in view of increasing population and traffic in the city.
The committee’s proposal involves four main points:
Establishment of safe routes in the city; a program of safety education and a study of city bicycle ordinances; incorporation of bike paths in future subdivisions and street developments, and providing bicycle paths and horse trails in future park areas.
In the proposal submitted to the council Nov. 7 the citizens subcommittee on bicycle safety urged the council to establish a route system at once on a four-month trial basis. Par of the request, dealing with safety education, was followed this week by the annual Junior Chamber of Commerce campaign to attach reflector tape to bicycles ridden by school children.
Another recommendation calls for painting bicycle lanes along-side parallel automobile parking strips on certain streets designated as bicycle traffic routes. The lanes would be marked by signs reading “Caught, Bike Route.”
Diagonal parking would be eliminated on streets containing the bicycle lanes.
City Manager Boos said the proposal, “needs careful study before acceptance or rejection.”
He added, “If we went out into the desert with the purpose of building a city where none stood before, it would be a difficult task to provide for such separation of traffic and building of special paths. Here in Fort Collins, with the city already built and expanding, the task is many times greater.”