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There have been some notable improvements made in the Fort Collins bicycling world this year. Some have arisen out of tragedy. Others are outcomes that can be tied back directly to the passage last year of the Fort Collins Bike Plan. What better time to look back in thanks than Thanksgiving week? We have a lot to be thankful for.

10. The after affects of two bicyclist deaths this year: We had two tragedies too many this year as Cesar Palermo and Steve Studt, both riding completely legally, were killed by motorists. Both crashes were terrible, but there’s hope that out of the sacrifice that these men have made, some good may come for future generations of bicyclists. The “Bikes may use full lane” sign added on Kechter road before the bridge where Studt was killed is too little too late, in my opinion. But the Town Hall meeting hosted by Your Group Ride and Bike Fort Collins in August has served as a catalyst to the cycling community to stand up and say “No more!” And it has paved the way for open and honest talks between bicycle advocates and Larimer County, to improve infrastructure that has historically been poor for cyclists.

Frank S. points out the new sign just before the Kechter bridge over I-25 during an August RAT Ride.

Frank S. points out the new sign just before the Kechter bridge over I-25 during an August RAT Ride.

9. Right-sizing on Taft Hill Road: The new striping on Taft Hill Road between Prospect and Laporte is a bit of a mixed bag, but there were some notable improvements. So let’s look at the bright side. Ignore the sections where bike lanes were removed or suddenly drop out. Instead, focus on the improved predictability of cars as they now have a left hand turn lane to use at several points where previously there was none. The previous lack of predictability led to erratic driving behavior before, and no one wants to share the road with an erratic driver. So that’s a bit of a win. But the real improvement to Taft comes between Mulberry and Laporte, where 4 lanes of motor travel were reduced to 3 (one lane in each direction, plus a turn lane in the center) and buffered bike lanes were put in on either side. Sweet!

8. Bike Counters: The City and CSU have both installed some bike counters in town in order to get better data about how many cyclists are using the Remington Greenway, the Mason Trail, and a few other parts of campus. This information can give city planners a better sense of when peak travel times are at various points around town and a sense of how cycling activity changes throughout the year (such as in summer when many students are gone or in winter when more people might drive or take MAX). The better the data we have on how many people are biking to get around town, the better arguments we’ll be able to make for improving and expanding bicycle infrastructure and education in the future.

7. Laurel between Howes and Remington and improvements to the intersection of Lynnwood, Prospect, and Heatheridge: These are two separate projects, but they’re both examples of the City of Fort Collins getting creative with low cost infrastructure improvements that add predictability, and hopefully safety, for both bicyclists and motorists. The City will be taking feedback on these changes and looking at usage and crash data to get a better sense of how these improvements are working. Then changes might be made to further tweak these improvements. To find out more about the improvements made to Laurel, check out these PedalFC posts: Three Blocks of Laurel Street to Receive Special Treatment and Updates on Laurel, and to find out more about the changes made at Lynnwood and Heatheridge, check out this post: Nifty Improvements to the offset intersection of Heathridge, Prospect, and Lynnwood.

Looking north along southbound Timberline Road at the intersection of Horsetooth Road.

Looking north along southbound Timberline Road at the intersection of Horsetooth Road.

6. The intersection of Horsetooth and Timberline: It’s one thing to add bike lanes to streets around town. But if the lane drops you off at an intersection with no protections for cyclists, then you’re left feeling a bit like Hansel and Gretel. Your kind and loving father has taken you out personally in the woods, protecting you along the way, only to drop you off right by the house of a child-eating witch living in a house full of diabetes producing candy. So despite the fact that it’s not particularly sexy that the City is upgrading various intersections around town, the fact that it’s doing so is still a huge win for cyclists. You can find out more about the improvements made to this intersection in this old PedalFC post.

5. Swallow around Rocky Mountain High School: If you’ve gotten to know me even just a little bit these past six months, then you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I think infrastructure around our local schools needs to be particularly well made, especially for our most vulnerable users — our kids. Wide sidewalks, well marked bike lanes, green paint where cars and bikes might cross paths, and pedestrians islands and bulbouts are critical components to providing safe routes to and from school. So it was with delight that I recently visited W. Swallow Road near Rocky Mountain High School where some beautiful improvements have been made for both bicyclists and pedestrians.

Thanks in part to a grant from Kaiser Permanente, all four high schools in Fort Collins now have Bike Fixit Stations.

Thanks in part to a grant from Kaiser Permanente, all four high schools in Fort Collins now have Bike Fixit Stations.

4. New and Improved Bike Map: One of the things Fort Collins bicyclists had to be thankful for last year was a new Bike Plan that was unanimously passed by our city council. The updated bike map that came out this year is a direct result of that new plan. The heart of the bike plan was to develop a series of low stress routes across the city that bicyclists could use to comfortably and safely get from anywhere to anywhere else in town. The bike map is the key to cyclists finding those routes. If you haven’t checked out the new bike map yet, I’d encourage you to pick one up at a local bike shop, city office, or rec. center. It’s also available online. You might also want to check out this PedalFC post on the bike map.

3. The Remington Greenway: During New West Fest, I planted myself along Remington to snap photos of people on bikes. As a bicycle blogger, I’m always in need of a few good photos and New West Fest provided a wonderful opportunity to take pictures. But what I saw along both Mason and Remington were people who very clearly were not regular cyclists. They looked ill at ease on their bikes and uncertain of how to navigate these two streets. So it was very exciting to me to see the improvements that were later made to Remington Street as part of the Remington Greenway project that added double buffered bike lanes along the corridor and left hand turn lanes for bicyclists headed onto the bike trail at the flower gardens in one direction and towards the old Fort Collins High School building in the other. This street now feels safer and more comfortable for even the most infrequent of riders. Find out more about the Remington Greenway in this old PedalFC article.

Open Streets was so fun that even hedgehogs came to play.

Open Streets was so fun that even hedgehogs came to play.

2. Open Streets: FC Bikes (the City’s bicycle department) hosted two Open Streets events this year and, as I overheard one attendee exclaiming to a friend, “This is soooo awesome! How have I missed this before?! I’m going to come every year!” The first Open Streets event this year was on Elizabeth and featured several businesses and other organizations. It felt like I was at the biggest neighborhood party ever. Residents flooded the streets. Kids were out playing and having fun right in the middle of Elizabeth. It was amazing. The second Open Streets event took place on the newly striped Remington Greenway. (This was where I heard the above mentioned quote.) There were food trucks, games for kids, live bands, and of course, there was some cool new bike infrastructure to check out. These events were truly awesome. Fort Collins hosts many events throughout the summer. But Open Streets felt like it was just for us. While folks might come from out of town to attend New West Fest, the Brewers’ Festival, and other events, Open Streets was our thing.  There’s something *sigh of relief* about that. It’s nice to have something that feels like it’s ours and ours alone. … And it’s a bike thing, which makes it rock all that much harder. Woot! Love, love, loved Open Streets this year!!!

Local deer survey progress along N. Shields.

Local deer survey progress along N. Shields.

1. N. Shields between Vine and Willox: I think that, hands down, the all around best thing that has happened this past year for cycling in Fort Collins arises out of the changes that have been made along N. Shields between Vine and Willox. In addition to a widened road that is safer for motorists, there are now bike lanes and sidewalks on either side of the road (where previously there hadn’t even been a shoulder). As the bridge over the Poudre river was replaced, the Poudre river trail was realigned so that there’s no longer a dangerous blind curve as cyclists and pedestrians travel under the N. Shields bridge. A center turn lane was added for motorists, which means no more erratic behavior from motorists as they swerve to avoid a stopped left turning vehicle. There’s a new parking lot at the intersection of N. Shields and the bike trail for recreational users, or people that want to use the lot as a Park ‘n Ride to work. And there’s a new roundabout at Vine and Shields that will hopefully improve both cyclist and pedestrian safety. (It would be hard to have made it worse there. It was a crazy intersection before.)

And that’s not even the half of it. There are two super wins as a result of this project as I see it. The fact that the City and the County collaborated on this project, and ended up with something that’s a real boon for peds and cyclists, is HUGE!!!!!  Infrastructure that drops off when it crosses from City to unincorporated County has traditionally been a problem and this project may just well signal a real change in that regard. And the fact that the County fixed the curb cuts between Shields and the Poudre trail when local cyclists brought it to their attention is another huge win for the cycling community and shows an improving level of attentiveness and response from the County in terms of cycling infrastructure. Woot! Thank you Larimer County for making that change! If you want to learn more about the improvements made to N. Shields, check out these posts: North Shields Improvements and a New Roundabout, Update on N. Shields – Progress!, and Speaking Out Leads to a Win for Cyclists.

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Six Months of Pedal Fort Collins

And the icing on the cake? Today marks the six month anniversary of Pedal Fort Collins!!!  Pedal is an all new bike blog here in northern Colorado focusing on the issues of all kinds of riders, from 5 year olds commuting to kindergarten to spandex clad joy riders out tearing up the trails.

My goal in writing this blog is to advocate for cyclists, educate cyclists and motorists, and to encourage people to leave their car behind — even just once a week — in order to be healthier, improve our air quality, reduce congestion, lower our taxes, and become a little more neighborly.

PedalFC is for riders of all ages and ability levels. Please help get the word out that Pedal Fort Collins exists by sharing links to posts via social media and telling friends about the blog.

And thank you to all of the faithful readers who are already engaged and interacting here on Pedal Fort Collins. I appreciate your comments, insights, tips, and feedback. You rock!

 


 

Thanks to Sarah J. for being my sounding board on this list. She gave me some great ideas that I hadn’t even thought about — which just goes to show how quickly we can start to take things for granted, which is all the more reason to regularly look back and be thankful for improvements that have been made.