Recent bike accidents won’t change city’s plans

The recent bicycle related accidents have not changed the conversation of programs such as the Bike and Pedestrian Education Coalition or the FC Bikes Program, but have added to them and the need for improved infrastructure in Fort Collins.

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The bike accidents coincide with the rising number of residents choosing to use bicycles, according to Kim Sharpe, coordinator for BPEC and member of the city’s bike advisory committee .

“I think we have an increase number of riders in our community so by percentage, I don’t believe there is necessarily an increase in the number of crashes that we have,” said Sharpe.

Although the accidents are not anticipated to change the town’s Platinum status as a bike friendly community, the city continues to work toward a safer environment for bicyclists, according to Sharpe and FC Bikes Program Manager Tessa Greegor.

The city’s first plan is to improve education efforts.

“We are definitely looking at this and looking at ways we can either improve our efforts to focus on some of the factors that are at play or continue to expand our education efforts,” Greegor said.

Possible education opportunities include a traffic skills 101 course, a winter cycling class and working with the university to come up with better new student education programs, according to Sharpe.

“You have all the new freshmen who have no idea that there are laws for bicycles or they have never ridden a bike,” said Joy Childress, traffic and bicycle education and enforcement program coordinator. “That’s the challenge we see on campus.”

Apart from education, improvements in infrastructure are also on the city and the university’s mind.

Such implementations as green painted bike lanes, bike boulevards and the Lincoln Corridor Plan, would be designed to increase safety for cyclists and, in some cases, pedestrians and motorists, as well.

The city is also updating their 2008 Bike Plan and 2011 Bicycle Safety Education Plan in order to “take a focused look, not only at safety, but at some policies and infrastructure designs and how we can move to the next level in terms of bicycling,” according to Greegor.

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For CSU this is as an opportunity to improve their own infrastructure, according to the university’s Alternative Transportation Manager, Aaron Fodge.

“This will absolutely be a public involvement opportunity for the campus to be involved in,” Fodge said.

Fodge said one of the main challenges the university faces is the streets that funnel into campus are set up in a way that is sometimes dangerous for bicyclists.

While not as much of a problem on the north side of campus, the remaining outskirts of campus are built in a way that a bicyclist is having to make turns and isn’t sufficiently protected in some situations, according to Fodge.

There is an underpass under College for bicyclists that combat this problem for much of the East side of campus, according to Fodge.

“It’s a big, big deal that, that happened,” Fodge said.

Underpasses and other safe solutions are being researched by senior engineering students designing such projects.

A Capital Improvement Plan is in the works to highlight what infrastructure and trails are needed on campus.

Part of this plan is the construction of separate pedestrian and bicycle paths, as seen on the west side of the library and in front of the rec center.

Construction, like that of the Lory Student Center, is what allows the implementation of such paths, according to Childress.

“With new projects, that’s how we get those in there,” Childress said. “It’s very hard to come up with the money and convince people to just go in there and do the bike path. New construction is our friend.”

These separated paths are set to be constructed on the west side of the LSC and are the design for any future bike path implementation.

Improvements to infrastructure, like these paths, and education are things the university and Fodge will continue to focus on.

“We want the numbers (of bicyclists) to grow and they are only going to grow if they can be safe and if we have a better infrastructure to keep them safe,” Fodge said.

Collegian Green Beat Reporter Laren Cyphers can be reached at news@collegian.com.