People, Planet, Profit: Biking in Northern Colorado is more than just exercise

PHOTO BY City of Fort Collins / John Robson

FC Bikes’ Program Specialist, Jamie, received the Educator of the Year award from the League of American Bicyclists at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C.

“Being Educator of the Year is a personal honor but also recognizes the amazing work that is taking place in Fort Collins. We are leading the way in many respects in bicycling education and this award is an acknowledgment of our efforts and how those are positively impacting people locally and other parts of the country and even the world,” Jamie says. “For example, our Bicycle Friendly Driver program is being adopted at the national level as the standard for how to educate motorists about how to share the road safely with people on bicycles. The program has even made its way to other countries. The most recent ones were Australia and Botswana.”

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Fort Collins Bikes(FC Bikes) team is continually working to remove peoples’ barriers to bicycling. Their education efforts are largely focused on those factors that research and observation have been shown to prevent people from choosing to bicycle.

“Bicycling is a central part of the culture in Northern Colorado and is something that has been built over time and is still growing. Bicycling is an important part of the recreation scene but is also a critical component of the transportation network,” Jamie says. “As Northern Colorado continues to grow, having a variety of options for how to get around is increasingly important. A strong bicycling program helps make bicycling one option for people of all ages and abilities. Bicycling also has been associated with improved health, wellness, better air quality and connection to the community.    

FC Moves is a department within the City of Fort Collins’ Planning Development and Transportation service area. FC Moves comprises three areas: Transportation Planning, Safe Routes to School and FC Bikes. FC Moves as a team addresses all areas of transportation through planning, programming, education, and evaluation.

Jamie’s current role within FC Moves is a Program Specialist for FC Bikes. “I focus most of my time on education, outreach and I manage the Bicycle Ambassador Program. We have a team of over 100 Bicycle Ambassadors who are trained to teach others about bicycling and bicycling safety. Our Bicycle Ambassador team educates over 4000 adults each year through classes and events.” Jamie says. “The Transportation Board advises the Fort Collins City Council on transportation issues. The Board examines issues relating to financing, the development, and implementation of master plans pertaining to pedestrian, streets, transit, bicycles, automobiles, congestion, traffic signalization, and transportation facilities, the use of technology, and education of the public and private industry on transportation topics” (https://www.fcgov.com/cityclerk/transportation).

Bicycling helps Fort Collins become a more vibrant, sustainable and resilient community in all three areas of the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.

People: Their goal is to make Fort Collins a great place to live, work and play and bicycling is an important piece of the quality of life that many people who live and visit this area value.  

Planet: In addition, Fort Collins has some of the most aggressive climate action goals in the country and the city is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050. Transportation makes up about a quarter of our current greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and when more people bicycle instead of using gasoline-powered vehicles, the community can reduce the amount of GHGs being emitted.

Profit: Bicycling is good for people’s pocketbooks and businesses. Operating a bicycle is a fraction of the cost of a motor vehicle.  Northern Colorado bicycling culture draws people from all over the world. This is great for the tourism economy. In addition, people who bicycle to destinations often spend more time and money at the businesses they visit.

 

2019 Programs supported by FC Bikes:

FC Bikes and Safe Routes to School. They are working together to educate the whole family at schools where the Safe Routes to School programming is scheduled to take place. Spring programs launching in 2019 are FC Bikes and Safe Routes to School. The first school is piloting the family-focused programming at Bauder Elementary on Thursday, April 4.

Bike Fix-It Bonanza – April 27, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. – With the help of local partners, we are hoping to repair over 100 bikes at 5 locations in  3 hours!

Electric-Assist Bike (e-bike) Pilot Program – Starting May 1 the City will be launching a pilot program to allow Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on multi-use trails in Fort Collins. The pilot will include extensive education and evaluation. The public will be invited to provide input. fcgov.com/electric-assist-bicycles

Borrow the Bicycle Ambassadors – a program request initiative where businesses, groups, and organizations can request customized bicycling programming for their members.

Bike Buddy Program – FC Bikes is pairing up Bicycle Ambassadors with individuals interested in overcoming their barriers to bicycling more. Bicycle Ambassadors will provide education and support for 1-3 sessions depending on the individual’s needs.

Open Streets – June 16 and September (exact date TBD). FC Bikes is planning great routes for people to travel via their own power and play in the streets. The June event route will be announced soon. fcgov.com/openstreets

Bike to Work Day – June 26 – bicyclists are encouraged to travel by bike to visit breakfast stations throughout the community.

Besides the Educator of the Year award 2019  recognition, Jamie became a League Cycling Coach with the LAB in 2018. League Cycling Coaches certify League Cycling Instructor or those who are trained to teach the League’s Smart Cycling curriculum. FC Bikes’ classes and education efforts are largely built on the League’s Smart Cycling principles. By Jamie becoming a Coach, Fort Collins Bikes is equipped to “train the trainers” and continue to strengthen their offerings in Northern Colorado. As a Coach, Jamie can also work alongside the best educators in the country and bring innovative ideas, concepts, and best practices to implement locally.  

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) gives four awards each year for different categories, one of them being Educator of the Year.  They choose individuals based on particular criteria for the specific award given. You can see this year’s award recipients here.