Between talking to people around town and seeing bicyclists on streets like N. Shields and Mulberry, I’m convinced that one of the biggest barriers to safe bicycling in Fort Collins is in our heads.
Humans are creatures of habit. If we learn a certain route to a place, we’ll likely use the same route every time thereafter. OK, maybe not every time, but most times, even when there are alternates we could use. So when we leave our cars at home and hop on our bikes (or even when we’re just thinking about it) the streets that come to mind are the ones we drive on.
But we drive those streets, so we’ve seen first hand how insane the other motorists are and how fast they speed! We know better than to bike there. Or we don’t know better and we bike there anyway (often high school and college students, from what I’ve seen) putting ourselves at risk.
Whether we’re avoiding biking because we “know” the streets are dangerous, or we’re biking on dangerous streets because we don’t know any better, the root of both problems is that the default route planning mechanism in our brains is attuned to car travel.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There ARE routes around town that are safer and more comfortable. And I’m not talking about the bike trails (although those certainly should be taken into account as well). I’m talking about the Fort Collins Bikeways.
OK, so the above image is a rather unglamorous bastardization of the City’s Bikeways map, but I think it still works to make a point.
When you’re going to be driving your car, there are a series of north-south streets that you can choose from — Taft, Shields, College, Lemay, Timberline and Ziegler. When you’re headed east-west, you probably think of Vine, Laporte, Mulberry, Prospect, Drake, Timberline, Harmony, Trilby or Carpenter. Though some of these streets have bike lanes, they also have pretty fast moving vehicles, which might not make the streets feel real comfortable, especially for the novice bicyclist.
So when planning your route by bike, think instead of the bikeways that FC Bikes has put together. They’re not all entirely built out yet, but it seems like every time I turn around, there’s a new Bikeways sign I see somewhere around town.
The north-south routes are shown in red above and the east-west in blue. There’s also the bike trails as another safe and comfortable route option. And there are more routes planned than what are showing in red and blue above. The yellow will also one day be marked bikeways. But those are further out (time-wise), so for now the focus should be on those core routes which are either built out already or are coming soon.
To get a sense of how the bikeways work, check out this older Pedal post on the Remington Bikeway, which was the first one to have signs posted along the length of the route. And if the bikeways will work for you, but you still need help figuring out the best way to get to or from the bikeway, check out the Fort Collins Bike Map.
And spread the word. These bikeways are a great resource for getting around town without having to deal with loads of car traffic. But they’re only useful if people know to use them. So mention them to friends and family. Post about them on Facebook and Twitter. Share photos
The bastardized Bikeways map was taken from the Fort Collins Bicycle Wayfinding Network Master Plan. … and then I messed with it. Poor thing.