Google “Fort Collins, bike friendly”. Go ahead, do it. You should get numerous lists of the most bicycle friendly communities in the US, with Fort Collins being near the top of all of them. It is one of the things that is an ingrained part of our community, just like beer. It is my opinion that you are not a true resident of Fort Collins unless you have ridden a bike to a brewery. Or even all of the breweries. In the same day. It really is one of the best ways to spend a warm afternoon with friends.
That is why when I have out of town guests, a brewery bike tour is usually on the agenda. In fact, I have had friends come to Fort Collins specifically to do a brewery tour. Before they arrive, I always let them know about the Fort Collins Bike Library. You have probably walked passed the octagonal little green building in the middle of the square several times. But did you know that you can rent bikes from them. For free.
A program that began in 2008, it offers bikes for rent to locals and visitors. With styles from commuter to cruiser there is a bike for everyone to use. They even have striders and trailers for the littlest riders. Some of the bikes have been rebuilt by the Bike Co-Op out of bikes from the Fort Collins Found and Abandoned Bike Program ran by the Fort Collins Police Department.
Since their inception, the have checked out a bike 15,524 times to 12,469 members. All you have to do to become a member is sign up. It is free, and then they will have all they need for you to check out a bike. Just like a library card. Those who join get to use a bike for up to 7 days and the only cost being a $10 donation if you choose to reserve a bike in advance. The Library also offers self guided tours of historic buildings, natural areas and breweries to members.
If you weren’t already aware of the Bike Library, I am sure now you are thinking, “wow what a great program to have in our city!”. And you are correct, it is amazing. However, the grant that was given to begin and fund the Bike Library for the last 4 years is expiring, and the $10 donations are just not enough. There are numerous costs that go along with running this program. Everything from storage space for the bicycles to marketing fees add up to more than they have.
The Bike Library is not something our community should lose. Not only does it bring in tourists and make their stay more enjoyable, but it helps members of our community. The Library provides modes of transportation for someone who might not have any. Families can go for bike rides together, even if they don’t own a trailer for their youngest member. These bikes bring tourists, and residents alike to local businesses to both spend and earn money, boosting our economy.
There is something we can do to help save the Bike Library, and as community members we should all pitch in. Our local crowd funding website, Community Funded, already has a campaign in full swing to raise $195,000, but it is just under 50% funded with less than a week to go. Other businesses in the community have offered up lots of goodies, with over 50 different options of giftbacks for those who choose to donate to the campaign. Everything from stickers, bike prom tickets, t-shirts and fudge are being offered as thanks for helping to save the Bike Library.
New Belgium Brewing is doing something about it too. With their flagship beer aptly named Fat Tire, they have always displayed and promoted a love for the cycling culture. On Saturday, December 15 they will be hosting a party to benefit the Bike Library. From 7-9pm there will be drinks and food for those who pay the $20 entrance fee. A silent and live auction will offer a 2013 New Belgium cruiser or a “Date with a Carnie”. All proceeds going to help out the Library. Being a huge catalyst in the bike culture movement in Fort Collins, it only seems fitting New Belgium joins the fight.
If you can’t make it to the party this Saturday, then please go to CommunityFunded.com to help out in anyway you can. And when the weather is nice, head down the library and check out a sweet cruiser.