In 2011, the League of American Bicyclists began a system of ranking Bicycle Friendly Universities, from bronze to Platinum. That year, the League gave Colorado State University a “silver” award. Four years later, the League updated its list, re-ranking past members of the system, and adding 146 new universities to the list.
“We started at Silver … we jumped Gold to Platinum, which had never been done before,” said Aaron Fodge, CSU’s manager of alternative transportation.
Since then, Parking and Transportation Services has made multiple improvements to the University to keep the Platinum ranking when the list is redone in 2019.
One of the improvements is the building of more bike racks on campus, Fodge said. CSU has pledged to build 18,000 parking spaces for bikes on campus. When the pledge was made, there were 15,000 rack spaces on campus. A total of 17,000 are expected to be on campus by the end of summer. Five-hundred of those spaces will be at the new stadium.
They are also tracking and mapping all bike tickets, bike accidents and bike injuries.
“We want to know where we can improve infrastructure on campus, or have better enforcement,” Fodge said. “That’s definitely a step up from what we were doing when we became Platinum.”
The University is also working with the city of Fort Collins to make the entire area more bike-friendly.
One addition this summer will be a low-stress bike network on Pitkin Street. At the intersection of Shields Street and Springfield Drive, a bike light will be constructed during the summer, similar to the one at Laurel and Sherwood Streets.
The Pitkin Bikeway will connect Overland Trail to Riverside Avenue, going through neighborhood streets to reduce the number of cars, and will include wayfaring signs so that commuters know where they are.
Another bike network, the Centre Bikeway, will stretch along Loomis Avenue from Lee Martinez Park, through campus, and south to Fossil Creek Drive. The various underpasses that have been built around the campus are also recent additions. When the Elizabeth underpass opens in mid-August, three of the four sides of campus will include underpasses, and the north side will be serviced by the bike light at Laurel and Sherwood Streets.
In addition, the Aggie Trail that connects Laurel Street to Pitkin Street will be extended along the new stadium, and the city will match that to further extend it to Prospect Road.
Between the new Chemistry and Biology buildings, there will be a new trail called the Prairie Loop that will allow students to travel south from the Monford Quad.
This summer, all of Lake Street will be repaved. Afterward, cars will not be allowed to park between Whitcomb Street and College Avenue. The bike lanes will be widened and buffered, much like they are on Plum Street.
This past year, South Drive, also called Hughes Way, was changed into a one-way street with a contraflow bike lane, allowing bicyclists to travel either way without getting ticketed for going against the flow of traffic.
This summer, more way-finding signs will be added to campus to facilitate navigation.
To plan for future improvements, the University has installed bike counters in various spots around campus, and more will be installed in the new Elizabeth Street underpass. Fodge said that due to this, the University is a national leader when it comes to counting bikes.
Parking and Transportation Services has also hired two new positions, called Alternative Transportation Officials, who work with students and employees to help them travel alternatively.
“Their job is to help people overcome their barriers to ride their bike, take a transit, carpool or vanpool to CSU,” Fodge said. “One employee works with employees, one employee works with students. We’re really fortunate that we have the budget to bring those people in and inform the campus.”
One of the barriers being taken down for bikers is the inclusion of commuter showers in the new buildings constructed on Pitkin Street.
Sharing and rentals of bikes has been facilitated as well. Two bike share stations have been built on campus, and a new program with The Spoke, the bike store on campus, will allow departments to rent bikes for the entire year. The bikes will be maintained by The Spoke.
Fodge is optimistic that with these improvements, CSU will be able to keep its platinum award when the League releases its next list in two years.
Collegian reporter Stuart Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notstuartsmith.