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Winter bike to work in the news

by Richard Masoner

I spotted a couple of “Bike to Work” news items this morning. What’s especially nice is this article in US News and World Report, which doesn’t portray cycling to work during the winter as an activity only for the diehard enthusiasts, but as something anybody can do:

On a freezing november morning in Chicago, Megan Mason puts on leggings, several polyester tops and a fleece, a windbreaker, four pairs of gloves, and silk sock liners. She ties a bandana over her head, dons earmuffs, snaps on a helmet, safety-pins a scarf into a cocoon around her head, and gets on her bright green Schwinn for a 1/2-mile ride to work.

Surely anyone who braves Windy City cold must be a hardcore biker. But Mason, a 27-year-old curriculum analyst at the Northwestern University School of Law, is new to the ranks of cycle commuters-one of thousands of Americans who this year have switched to pedal power.

A little further west, the city of Fort Collins, Colorado had their annual Winter Bike To Work Day Wednesday morning.

“The things the bicycling community offers are exciting, but sometimes people need encouragement to get involved,” Rolling Spokes co-founder Molly North said. “A side effect of Rolling Spokes and other organizations is to connect people to the biking community.”

The city of Fort Collins achieved “Gold” status as a Bicycle Friendly Community last September. The cyclists in Fort Collins are working to go Platinum as a Bicycle Friendly Community. My question: Can any city that bans bikes from its main thoroughfare actually be considered “bicycle friendly” in any way?

See also Chicago Bike Winter.

 
Burley nomad 229

6 Responses to “Winter bike to work in the news”

  1. siouxgeonz says:

    a place can be considered “in any way” friendly, just not in *enough* ways ;)
    Potholes – would they drive a person to ride a bicycle instead of drive a car?

  2. Rick Price says:

    Can a city that bans bikes from its main thoroughfare actually be considered “bicycle friendly” in any way? Yes indeed. Why not? To make up for the ban on cyclists for exactly 3.6 miles of College Avenue (from Laurel St. south to Harmony Rd.) the city has given us: a unique 3 mile bike/ped path, the Mason Trail, that follows the railroad right of way (soon to extend 2-3 miles to Old Town Fort Collins). We also have another trail, the Power Line Trail that extends parallel to College Ave. about 3 miles north-south, linking in to the Spring Cr. Trail. In addition, just a year ago the City gave us the most beautiful parking-free street on Laurel St. (north side of CSU campus) that is a pleasure to ride (and much safer without parked cars). So motorists have given up some things too to make this care friendly. We have 10-15,000 new people a year move to town. Most are students. May ride bicycles. Banning bikes on 3.6 miles of College Avenue is an efficient and acceptable way of letting those folks know that there’s a better way. Portland, I see, has lots of bridges and freeways that ban bikes. Or am I mistaken? If you’d like to see the bike map of our City, have a look: http://www.fcgov.com/bicycling/bike-maps.php.
    Or, maybe you’re bringing friends to town? Borrow a bike from our free bike library: http://www.FCBikeLibrary.org.
    Or, maybe you need to used some tools to fix your bike? Try our Bike Co-op: http://www.FCBikeCoop.org.
    Still upset about not being able to pedal down 3.6 miles of College Avenue? Maybe you need to pedal over to New Belgium Brewing and relax a little with a Fat Tire Amber Ale, to Odell Brewing for a little Levity Ale, or to Fort Collins Brewery for one of their IPAs. You’ll feel a lot better about it then! (Oh, yeah, did I mention that Senator Tom Coburn (R) from Oklahoma named our bike library as one of the most wasteful federal projects for 2008? Pretty cool, no? We’re working on a proposal for 2009 to offer escorted rides to kids, seniors and Oklahomans using our Bike Library Fleet. (Those folks in Oklahoma don’t have a single bicycle friendly community in the entire state!)

  3. Fritz says:

    Rick, I’m aware of the excellent sidepaths and other alternate routes and I’m glad they’re there, and you’re doing a fantastic job making Ft Collins a great place to bike, but Ft Collins bike ban on US 287 still rubs me wrong.

    I can bike from the Texas Panhandle all the way into Wyoming on US 287 with two exceptions: where it’s I-70 through Denver (because it’s a limited access freeway), and along that short stretch of very busy surface street in Fort Collins (because, umm, because … why?)

  4. This is my first winter to commute. I’m loving it! It’s actually quite pleasant. I arrive at work feeling awake and refreshed!

  5. Ron Georg says:

    Howdy–

    Roads are public rights of way, not just conduits for the efficient transmission of automobiles. The price of admission to these public spaces should not be automobile ownership–that’s hardly democratic.

    Removing cyclists from any road reinforces the idea in motorists that bicycles don’t belong on roads, and that we can’t get along safely. It represents a capitulation to the speed and convenience which dominates car culture at the expense of safety and sanity. It’s part of the same mentality that allows us to ignore the 40,000 deaths a year, in this country alone, that are mostly due people’s unwillingness to accept the responsibilities which come with sharing the commons.

    Ironically, segregating cyclists doesn’t make us safer from cars. We still need to interact with traffic, as no bike path system will take you, door-to-door, where you need to go. The intersections of bike path and road become very dangerous, as do adjoing roads, where drivers are unaccustomed to seeing cyclists.

    Okay, I’ll try not to get into a full-blown Forester rant. But there is just so much evidence for the vehicular cycling perspective, versus the “I just feel safer and happier” argument from the bike path side. It’s also a matter of civil rights, as roads are an ancient (millenia before cars) communal necessity. Being kicked off of them because of a hundred-year-old invention is tyrannical.

    Sure, I could hit the Odell Brewery (I’m not a big Fat Tire fan, despite their admirable bike enthusiasm) by bike path. I don’t know Ft. Collins well, but I’d imagine there are a few other businesses or residences I couldn’t access so easily by bicycle because of the closure. That’s unacceptable, and it should preclude any bike friendly designation.

    No one is proposing building bike paths to every door, which would be impossible anyway, so we will always have the obligation to protect vehicular cycling rights. That would be a lot easier if some of the many millions of dollars which go into bike path development and maintenance were diverted to educating riders, drivers and cops, then enforcing the laws when that fails.

    In my tiny town, we’ve already got a $3.8 million pedestrian/bicycle bridge over a river which is about to get a new bridge for automotive traffic–a new bridge with six-foot shoulders. If I had that $3.8 million, I could establish a permanent Office of Bicycle Safety, Utility and Joy which would encourage and support many more trips by bicycle than the bridge ever will.

    Of course, the bridge is just the start. There’s another $3 million in grants waiting to go to work on three miles of path connecting to the bridge, which still isn’t connected to town, and which will never be connected to my front door.

    While I like bike paths well enough, and I use our existing parkway system regularly, it’s a pipe dream to believe they can address cyclists’ transporation needs. And, if they ever were successful, we’d have crowded bike paths and empty streets.
    Happy Trails,
    Ron Georg
    Moab, Utah

  6. Nicole says:

    I’m late to the game on this one as I’m just catching up on my feeds, but, as a Fort Collins resident, I still want to comment.

    Here’s the thing: I don’t know a single biker in Fort Collins that feels jipped because they can’t bike on that stretch of College Ave (although, I’m sure they exist). Furthermore, whenever I see the bold biker that does it anyway, I wonder about their mental stability. There’s the Mason Corridor Trail not even a block west that parallels College and allows quick access to businesses from about Prospect Rd. to well south of Harmony.

    The problem is that this is a retro-fitted road. If they were to radically rework the street, I would expect bikes to be included in the design, but as it is, it’s a six lane street shoved into the space of a four lane. I would much rather see money put into the proposed Mason Transportation Corridor — a system that would provide quick, alternate transit for everyone, including bikers, from Old Town to south of Harmony.

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