May 012008
 
Authors: Andy Dose

Gas and temperatures are on the rise in Fort Collins, which means a significant seasonal increase in bike traffic throughout the city. Along with this increase comes the inevitable sticky situation for bicyclists as bike-oriented residents interact with motorists and other various traffic elements.

Cyclists in Fort Collins can and do come across areas and situations that aren’t as bike-friendly as optimum travel conditions might afford.

The City of Fort Collins Transportation Planning office and other programs dedicated to the safety and efficiency of bike transit in Fort Collins are making efforts to make Fort Collins an alternative-transportation-friendly environment.

Joe Bagley, a 33-year-old native Fort Collins resident, volunteer for the non-profit advocate organization Bike Fort Collins, said that while the city has made vast improvements over the years, there are still some distinct areas and roads that are consistently problematic for cyclists.

“There’s a lot of streets out there that if you’re riding for the first time, you’ll be taken by surprise,” Bagley said. “Your lane will be gone,”

Bagley said part of the problem with inconsistent bike lanes in Fort Collins is that cyclists often don’t know their rights as commuters, rights that can get a cyclist out of a potentially dangerous situation.

“What I recommend that you do is remember the rights you have as a cyclist: you have a right to the entire lane, and you have just as much right to the lane as the motorists do,” Bagley said. “So if your lane drops off, don’t ride down the gutter because the cars are only going to give you that much space. Get right in the middle of that lane, take up the whole lane until you get out of there, and then remember where you ran into that problem, and don’t go that way again.”

Dave Kemp, bicycle coordinator for the City of Fort Collins, said CSU students and faculty are the largest demographic in Fort Collins, which adds to the traffic and dilemmas that arise out of increased bike traffic.

“One of the most important things, at this point, is to teach or show students how to bicycle in an urban setting,” Kemp said. “Students are blowing through stop signs, stop lights, running at night without lights, going the wrong way down a (one) way street, basically having a disregard for motorists, and it really is a two-way street. Motorists and bicyclists have to respect one another and decrease animosity that often exists.”

Kemp also said a combination of factors contributes to the overall traffic safety of citizens in Fort Collins, and that there are easy steps people can take to ensure safe travel and peace of mind. Being patient and making an effort to obey traffic laws and co-exist with other commuters can be the first step in creating a safer commuter environment.

Staff writer Andy Dose can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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