On a college campus not so close to the Rocky Mountains, a student zipped to class on her bike, bombing the one hill in town and leaving foot travelers in the dust.
Tuckered out after dodging unbalanced long boarders one day, this speed demon was feeling too lazy to drag her bicycle up the stairs to her apartment. She resorted instead to leaving it unlocked in the backyard — which was actually just a fence-less dust patch near an alley. Much to her surprise, the bike was stolen. The thief, who likely pawned the ride for drug money, probably went on to break the hearts of more unobservant humans and the woman would never see her bike again.
If you’re a Buff and you register your bike with the University of Colorado Boulder, you likely won’t be this fool, because CU not only wants to prevent your property from being snatched the second you turn your back, the university really, really wants you to bike.
There are not only paths designated just for bicycles around campus that allow cyclist to skip the daily dodging of people and cars, but also programs and fix-it stations, so that your bike will stay in tip top shape.
Brandon Smith, Sustainable Transportation Program Manager at the university, said there are many reasons CU is an ideal place to bike.
“We have 300 sunny days of weather,” Smith said, “The campus is a fantastic place to ride. There’s lots of cycling infrastructure.”
The campus maintains two (almost) full-service bike shops. The UMC and Folsom bike stations offer the mechanically inept a chance to keep their bike in tip top shape. Repair experts can help to fix a broken chain, repair a flat or offer some advice, anything to keep “cyclist in the saddle” according to CU’s website.
So long as your bike is registered, the services are free and come with some pretty sick swag.
“If the bike needs a new part that we don’t have, you can bring the part to us to install free of charge,” Smith said.
If you’re more of a DIY kinda person, the campus also offers free classes on bike maintenance basics and riding safety tips. More information on the Bike Maintenance Clinics Program can be found on CU’s Environmental Center website at: colorado.edu/ecenter/transportation/bicycle/bike-maintenance-clinics.
While registration of bikes is required for students, Smith said there are no police roaming the campus to enforce it. However, it is one of the best preventative measures for keeping your bike yours. Since 2014, roughly 19,044 students registered their bike. Smith said a registration sticker plastered on your bike is a likely deterrent against theft. If you’re bike is snatched, it will be difficult for a perpetrator to pawn your bike and hopefully it will get returned to its rightful owner.
If you do find yourself without a bike, because you stopped for 30 minutes to capture that perfect selfie with the flatirons in the background, leaving your ride unattended — the university can hook you up.
Semester-long rentals from the campus fleet of 200 bikes aren’t free but cost only about as much as a day rental at a private bike shop — a $100 reimbursable deposit, plus $30 for the first semester and $10 for semesters following. The rental is ideal for anyone, Smith said, but particularly beneficial for out-of-state students, who were unable to move their bike across the country.
For those looking to venture off campus, Boulder’s Community Cycles offers numerous resources to students. The nonprofit offers a solid selection of repurposed bikes, informational sessions and expertise from cycling aficionados.
Dax Burgos, shop director, said fix-a-flat classes are free to anyone who signs up. The shop also hopes to offer biking safety classes, starting this year. There’s also a maintenance course, which costs $20.
“The fix a flat is probably one of the most important things that anyone with an intention of riding a bike should know,” Burgos said. “It’s inexpensive and keeps you going. A flat tire is one of those things that is always going to happen to you.”
The shop also has replacement parts at bargain deals.
“We offer tons of used parts,” Burgos said. “If your wheel gets stolen, it’s the best places to get a replacement wheel and it would a lot less expensive than a conventional shop.”
Back on campus, Smith advised students of best practices while riding their bikes. This is especially important because irritated drivers are less likely to be accommodating to cyclists or to support infrastructure for biking. The biggest thing is being aware of surroundings and dressing appropriately, like the novel idea of wearing a jacket during cold weather.
Cyclist should also be aware biking while intoxicated is dealt with the same way under Colorado law as drunken driving.
Advocates say as long as you stay sober and alert, you should be safe. Even so, it has been recommended to use a flashing headlight during daytime riding, as well as at night. The city offers several free bike light giveaways throughout the year. Lights can also be picked up at the GO Boulder office, 1101 Arapahoe Ave.
CU’s efforts to keep bikers riding strong have not gone unnoticed. In 2016, the college was gold rated by the League of American Bicyclists due to its efforts to make it cycling friendly. If you want to stay in the know, Smith suggested students sign up for the Buff Bike Commuter newsletter.
Besides registering your bike and being a model cyclist, experts’ next best advice is to get out and ride.