Let’s face it, no one wants to arrive at their destination grumpier than when they started. And any time you’re stuck traveling a route that’s congested, full of obstacles, and full of other drivers that you could swear are trying to end your life, you’re just plain going to be grumpy by the end. It doesn’t matter whether we’re driving a car, riding a bike, or walking; we all want safe, comfortable routes to work, school, and everywhere else we need to go. That’s why the latest Fort Collins Bike Map has been designed specifically to help cyclists find low-stress routes through town.
You can download a pdf copy of the bike map from the City website. Or use these direct links to the pdfs on the City site.
* Front page of the bike map – which includes bike laws, a close up of downtown and CSU, and other tips.
* Full city bike map.
There are some substantial improvements that have been made to the map since the last printing. The most important, in my opinion, is that by changing the use of colors, the map is far less cluttered looking. Whereas all unhighlighted streets were in gray (on white) in the 2012 map, which made them pop out as much as any other street, now the majority of streets are in white (on a light tan) which enables them to still be visible, but they become background to the colored low-stress routes that really pop out at you.
As you can see from the photo above, the map is also substantially larger, which enabled the city staff to include fringe areas of town that weren’t incorporated in the map the last time around.
The map is really an outgrowth of the 2014 Fort Collins Bike Plan that was passed unanimously by the city council. (I love it when the city council all agrees on an issue. It gives me a “Yes! This is Fort Collins!” feeling.) The idea behind the bike plan was not to create all new bike routes for people to use, but rather to look at the infrastructure that’s already in place (the roads, the bike lane striping, the recreational trails, etc.) and find a way to make sure that all connects well so that it’s easy and comfortable to use.
Having fantastic bike lanes with a huge gap in the middle that’s stressful and unsafe doesn’t work, as we’ve seen with the Kechter Road bridge over I-25. Despite the fact that there are beautiful lanes leading towards it and away from it, the bridge itself is a bicyclist’s nightmare. (Steve Studt died on that bridge this past June when a dump truck tried to pass him.)
What the city staff did was to look at where those beautiful stretches of road are, then identify the problem points and recommend improvements only for those areas. This provided a lower cost means of creating a well integrated bicycle network. And that really pops out at you when you see the map. Those low-stress routes have been highlighted (with varying stress-out levels from “paved shared-use trail” to “bike lane on a higher volume, higher speed roadway” and everything in between) so that you can easily choose a route that works for you.
If you’re a timid cyclist, you’re going to want to look for the blueish/greenish routes. If you’re a little more brazen, then you might venture out onto some yellows or purples.
It should be noted that just because a road is white, doesn’t mean it’s a horror. In fact, every arterial road within the city was rated at least a yellow (with some exceptions that I’ll note below). So a white street, more often than not, just means it’s a street without a designated bike lane. Most of these are pretty darn low stress because they’re neighborhood streets or have very low traffic volumes.
There are the exceptions, though. And the exceptions kind of are horrors. Mulberry is white for most of its length. Prospect likewise. And a section of N. Shields is white, although part of that has been under construction for nearly a year, and once it’s done, it’s going to be really lovely.
There are also sections of N. Shields, E. Drake, E. Horsetooth, Kechter Rd, and E. Trilby that have dashed red lines because there’s no bike lane and the traffic is often freaky fast. (Or at least it FEELS freaky fast when you’re on your little two wheeler pedaling like a maniac and hoping you don’t get hit.)
The non-map side of the bike map is also full of really helpful information. There are tips for how to stay safe, a list of important bike laws (as well as the amount of the fine if you’re caught being naughty), some explanations of newer bicycle infrastructure (like bike boxes and bike light signals) and a zoomed in map that includes downtown and CSU, which will be particularly useful for students who may use it as a stand alone map since it covers most of their commute from day to day.
If you want to pick up a paper copy of the Fort Collins Bike Map, there are several places that usually have them available. Libraries tend to keep them in stock. Bike shops may have them. The Bike Co-op and Bike Library should have them. And the City Services building has them (281 N. College). They’ll also be on hand at upcoming Bike-to-Work day and other bicycle related events. So keep an eye out for them. They’re handy to have on hand, especially if have company in town and want to send them off to toodle around town on your bike while you have to go to work or school.