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10 Best U.S. Bike Cities of 2011

Stocks in this article: WMTTGT

3. Fort Collins, Colo.
Number of bicycle commuters: 7,776
Bicycle commuters' share of overall population: 9.9%
Fort Collins doesn't just encourage a cycling culture, it jumps right into it with both pedals.

The home of the Colorado State University has more than 280 miles of bike lanes and no problem lending bikes to visitors who forgot theirs at home. The city loans out bikes through its Fort Collins Bicycle Library for a refundable down payment and sends away students, residents and visitors with self-guided bike tours including rides past New Belgium, Odell Brewing and other brewing facilities as well as by some of the town's historic sites.

It also has no problems handing out maps of downtown that encourage riders to use reliable alleyways and lightly traveled streets instead of high-traffic thoroughfares such as College Avenue and Jefferson Street. Those same also mark off the "dismount zone" where cyclists will be issued a $50 ticket if they're caught riding on the sidewalks.

One in four Fort Collins residents attends Colorado State, but the city's sprawling bicycle events calendar saves much of its best offerings for summer break. Bike shows, bike and jazz festivals, endurance races, moonlight rides, barbecue biking events and a weekend Fort Collins Cycling Festival in August with concerts, food and races on a big screen downtown fill the slate until well after labor day. This all just supplements the dozens of regularly scheduled rides hosted by area bike groups seven days a week during the summer.

New Belgium Brewery completes the cyclist's paradise by hosting the Urban Assault Ride bicycle scavenger hunt throughout the city in July, a bike-in cinema on the brewery's front lawn for six weeks from August through September and its annual Tour De Fat bicycle race and festival on Labor Day weekend. That bicycle on the label of the brewery's Fat Tire beer isn't just for show.

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