Burning calories, not fuel

Jul 132010
Authors: Emily Johnson

Editor’s note: The following article is a first-person narrative told through the eyes and words of this Collegian reporter.

If there’s one thing that Fort Collins supports, it’s the bike. On any given day, in any part of town, you’re likely to see one, if not several riders using the bicycle lane for commuting and leisure.

“It’s one of the features that attracted me here,” said Anna Dempkey, a recent transplant from Indiana who I met riding along the Poudre River.

Whether you need to get to work, school or to enjoy some scenery, riding your bike is a great option. Fort Collins has nearly 30 miles of designated trails for recreational use and virtually every street in the city has a bike lane.

“I came to visit a friend last summer, and we rode bikes all week. It was so fun and really safe with the bike lanes and the underpasses,” Dempkey said.

There are two main trails that wind around the city with several entry and exit points. The Poudre Trail meanders along the Poudre River for 10 miles. It runs between the Overland Trail and East Drake. The Spring Creek Trail follows Spring Creek through several parks in mid-Fort Collins for nearly seven miles and joins the Poudre Trail.

The Mason Trail is a convenient route in the middle of the city, basically an alternative to College Avenue, where bicycling is prohibited. Stretching from the Spring Creek Trail to south of Harmony Road, the trail offers a solution to improve safety and mobility for cyclists and pedestrians traveling north and south in the city. It is 3.5 miles long.

The Foothills Trail is a rugged 6.8-mile earthen trail that travels along the foothills parallel to Horsetooth Reservoir.

The Fossil Creek Trail currently runs through the Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area along Fossil Creek. It is 4.17 paved miles.

The Power Trail follows the west side of the Union Pacific Railroad south from Edora Park 2.5 miles to south of Harmony Road via Golden Meadows Park and McMurry Avenue.

Not only are there great opportunities for enjoyable scenic bikes rides, but also there are several bike friendly events that happen around town. The city’s FC Bikes program sponsors many activities related to bike safety and education, which can be found at BikeFortCollins.org.

The Rio Bike Nights guest speaker series takes place every Wednesday in July at the Agave Room above the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant on Mountain Avenue in Old Town. Each week you can enjoy refreshments and apetizers and hear from a guest speaker about different bicycling issues in our community.

Doors open at 7 p.m.

In August, New Belgium Brewery hosts the bike-in outdoor movie night on Thursdays at dusk. It’s also is famous for its annual Tour De Fat eccentric bike parade in September.

One of my personal favorite summer bike rides is to the Lyric Cinema Cafe on Mountain Avenue in Old Town on Wednesday nights to catch a free independent flick at 9:30 p.m.

Is your bike a little cranky these days? Take it to the Bike Co-op on North College Avenue during open shop hours you can learn basic maintenance on how to keep your bike operating. The co-op also recycles all found and abandoned bikes in the community.

Don’t have a bike? No worries. Visit our nationally renowned Fort Collins Bike Library downtown in Old Town Square to rent a bike. CSU also carries bikes for rent, but the selection is usually very small so they are not always available.

Is mountain biking your thing? Overland Mountain Bike Club is a resource along the northern Front Range, a recognized leader in promoting the sport of mountain biking as a fun and healthy activity for people of all ages and abilities.

If you like racing, you can check out the CSU Rams Cycling team.

Whatever you do on a bike, remember that in the state of Colorado a bicycle is a vehicle. You have the same rules and responsibilities as a motor vehicle.
So, this summer, consider trading four wheels for two and get out and ride.

To learn more about any of these projects, visit: FCBikeCoop.org, RamsCycling.org and OverlandMTB.org.

Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

*Rules of the road *
• Ride in a designated bike lane if one is present, otherwise ride as far to the right-hand side of the road as practicable
• Don’t weave in and out of parked vehicles. Hold a straight line of travel
• Ride with traffic
• Ride single file
• Don’t cling to other vehicles
• Obey all traffic signs and signals
• Use a light at night, and
• Yield to pedestrians and give an audible signal when passing.

*Bicycle safety *
• When crossing railroad tracks ride perpendicular to the rails
• Be predictable to others around you
• Ride defensively
• Wear a helmet
• Keep control of your bicycle by keeping both hands on the handlebars, and
• Use hand signals when turning.

Where bicycling is prohibited
• Although it is legal to ride in most parts of the city there are sections that are posted as “Dismount Zones” or “No Ride” areas and can be identified by official traffic signs
• Bicycles are not allowed on College between Laurel Street and Harmony Road
• Bicycles are not allowed to ride in the “Downtown Dismount Zone”
• Bicycles are not allowed to ride in the CSU Plaza Dismount Zone, and
• Rules and regulations that govern bicyclists vary from the City of Fort Collins and CSU.

Sharing the road
• Allow at least 3 feet between your vehicle and a cyclist when passing
• Signal your intentions before you turn
• Look back before making turns because cyclists may be approaching
• Be aware that when roads are too narrow for cyclists and motorists to ride side by side, cyclists are encouraged to take the lane when appropriate. This is especially true for narrow city streets where cyclists can be “pinched” between vehicles
• If you must honk your horn at a bicycle, do so from a friendly distance, not from directly behind or directly beside. This is startling and unsafe to the bicyclist
• Don’t cut off a bicyclist when turning right. Be patient
• Look before exiting a parked vehicle. “Car dooring” has dire consequences
• Don’t harass or endanger a bicyclist. By law this is considered reckless endangerment –– a misdemeanor offense, and
• It is illegal to drive in designated bike lanes unless to turn into or out of access points, and even then, by city traffic code, bicyclists have the right of way.

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