Location: Colorado

Running Out of Racks

Fort Collins, Colorado is a bicycle town, and it shows:

In the language of bureaucracy, they are called end-of-trip facilities.

But the rest of the world knows them as bike racks, and in Fort Collins, pedestrians likely know them as the metal structures hidden within little riots of handlebars, frames and wheels along city sidewalks.

On any given Friday night in summer — as well as most Thursday nights, throughout the weekends, anytime there’s an event and most sunny afternoons — the bike racks of Old Town are packed full with shiny new cruisers and road bikes, muddy mountain bikes and vintage Schwinns.

It’s a first come, first serve sort of affair with most racks holding three to four bikes comfortably (six, if you’re among friends). Once the u-shaped “end-of-trip facilities” close to particularly popular destinations—namely coffee shops, restaurants, music venues and bars — are at maximum capacity, bicyclists go searching for less favorable racks, which are then soon filled.

Beyond that, they’ll lock up their rides to anything attached to the ground: trees, street signs, railings and patio fencing. Or, if desperation arises, they’ll just stack their bikes like a tower, lock them together and hope no one can steal such a mess.

The scene can be a pain in the bike saddle for both pedalers and pedestrians — especially when cyclists search for a parking spot while illegally cruising on crowded Old Town sidewalks.

“We’ve just surpassed what current bike racks can hold,” Fort Collins Bike Coordinator Dave Kemp says. “The level of ridership has just grown dramatically.”

Finding solutions to the problem is difficult, due to limited space on the sidewalks. One solution being considered is to convert car parking spots to bike parking spots, but vehicle parking is in short supply as well.

It’s a problem, but at least it’s a good problem: “You are starting to see bikes everywhere. With more bikes on the road, we do see more things like crowded bike parking and crowded sidewalks. … They are good things and things that can be fixed.”

Read more: Racking Havoc from Fort Collins Now.

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

One response to “Running Out of Racks”

  1. As you say it’s a good problem to have. In Oxford, we have a similar problem. A major cause of congestion in bike racks, is because there are many abandoned bikes left by students.