Bicycling culture on a roll on campus

Teresa Metzger has been biking to campus for more than three years. Photo by Sylvia Cranmer

Bicycling in many ways defines Colorado, Fort Collins and CSU. Gov.  John Hickenlooper has made a commitment to spend more than $100 million over four years to make Colorado the “best state for biking,” fueling economic growth and tourism.

Leading this trend, both Fort Collins and CSU have already made a mark in reaching the highest ratings nationwide for being bike friendly. These are communities of active and involved bicyclists.

At CSU, many factors come together to create an ideal environment for promoting bicycling, leveraging our ability to maintain a bike-friendly campus. With a high building and population density on campus, a stimulating atmosphere and defined boundaries, CSU is embracing the enthusiasm that accompanies a bicycling culture.

While it’s all too easy to find reasons not to ride a bike to and from work, or even across campus, through a combination of programs, activities and infrastructure, CSU is making bicycling safer and easier, while chipping away at the barriers — and thus the excuses.

“I am lucky to live in a city and work at a university so committed to making it easy to ride your bike,” says Residence Life Assistant Director Teresa Metzger, who has been a daily bike commuter to campus for about three years. “There is something Zen about beginning and ending your work day on a bike. I tend to zone out when I’m in my car, where riding a bike makes me feel more connected and aware of my surroundings. I am a happier person when I am on my bike.”

Metzger is not your typical campus staff member when it comes to using a bike for transportation. The results of a 2016 transportation survey of 1,100 CSU faculty, staff and students indicate that 13 percent bike to campus as their primary mode of transportation. Not surprisingly, of those bicyclists, more than half are students – leaving lots of room for improvement across the entire campus population.

Wheels in motion

CSU has many wheels in motion with accommodations for bicyclists, and has already reached a milestone by being one of only five universities in the country to receive the highest “Platinum” rating as a Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists. The BFU program recognizes institutions for promoting and providing a more bikeable campus for faculty, staff, students and visitors based on five primary areas: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation/Planning – the Five E’s.

CSU has many bases covered in each of these areas with programs such as the Zagster Bike Share stations, The Spoke student-run bike shop, more than 15,000 bike parking spaces, a cross-departmental Campus Bicycle Advisory Committee, separated bike and pedestrian corridors across campus, police enforcement, free bicycle safety education classes, etc. – all helping to close the gap of making the bicycle a preferred means of transportation.

An additional bonus for CSU is having two new staff members working full-time to promote alternative transportation: one focused on faculty and staff, and another one working with students.

“Targeted outreach to both students and employees will help accelerate our bicycle, transit, and walking mode shares,” says CSU Active Transportation Professional Aaron Buckley. “We would like to remove barriers for people interested in trying a new mode of transportation to access campus.”

CSU also works in close collaboration with local groups such as the City’s FC Bikes program and Bike Fort Collins to ensure that our messages and infrastructure are seamless, and align both on and off campus.

As we gear up for the warm weather cycling season, a myriad of opportunities are available for cyclists of all interest levels, ages and abilities to get informed and get involved. If you are on the fence about when to start – this is a great time.

“I started riding in the summer and then continued into the fall,”  Metzger adds. “Starting in the summer helped me feel more confident and made it easy to continue for the rest of the year. Once I got into the habit, it was no big deal.”