Submitted by: Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)
Posted: Jan 28, 2008 – 08:00 AM EST
BOULDER, CO - January 28, 2008 - New York City's Transportation Alternatives and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation have been selected as the first recipients of REI/Bicycle Friendly Communities Grants of $15,000 each. This new grant fund, administered by the Bikes Belong Foundation and made possible by generous support from Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), helps aspiring, committed Bicycle Friendly Communities become great places to ride.
Transportation Alternatives (TA) will use their award to support a comprehensive citywide bike parking initiative designed to increase bike transportation in New York by giving cyclists safe, convenient places to park and store their bicycles. TA will conduct advocacy work for "parking spot swaps" and legislation mandating bicycle access to commercial buildings. The grant will also back a bike-rack design competition organized by the NYC Department of Transportation, TA, and city art museums.
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation will use their funding to produce the first of a series of Sunday Parkways events in Chicago, modeled after Ciclovia in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Bogotá, Columbia. With a goal of "transforming communities by invigorating their lifelines—their streets—every weekend from June through October," Sunday Parkways promises to dramatically increase ridership in the city of Chicago by creating a car-free community celebration that other U.S. cities can adopt.
"Chicago and New York are already working hard to become bike friendly," said Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong. "These REI grants will help city governments, businesses, community leaders and nonprofit groups increase cycling for transportation and recreation. The result will be reduced road congestion and air pollution, and better health and quality of life for residents and visitors."
The REI Bicycle Friendly Communities Grant Program is a collaborative effort of REI, the Bikes Belong Foundation, and the League of American Bicyclists. Advocacy organizations and city planning departments in League-designated Bicycle Friendly Communities are invited to apply for funding that will help them reach specific BFC goals. The grants provide seed money for technical assistance and evaluation, bicycle master plans, infrastructure improvements, and innovative pilot projects and programs—such as those in New York and Chicago.
"REI applauds the efforts of Transportation Alternatives and Chicagoland Bicycle Federation to make their cities more accessible and safe for cyclists of all abilities," said Brad Brown REI vice president of E-Commerce & Web Strategy and member of the Bikes Belong Foundation board of directors. "We are proud to be associated with Bikes Belong's innovative grant awards to help cities across the country become more bicycle friendly and inspire more individuals to be active in outdoor recreation through cycling."
Bicycle Friendly Communities is a program developed by the League of American Bicyclists to inspire city governments to create safe, appealing bicycle routes and facilities as well programs that encourage people of all ages to ride bikes for transportation and recreation. Currently, there are 72 communities across the country designated with bronze, silver, gold, or platinum BFC awards. The League's BFC staff provides applicants with resources and technical assistance, and offers workshops and site visits for communities that want to develop and energize their efforts to become more bicycle friendly. Bikes Belong has been a key supporter of this important program since 2001.
REI - a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating, and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship—sponsors this important grant program. REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations, and financial contributions. For 11 consecutive years, REI has been recognized by FORTUNE magazine as one of "100 Best Companies to Work for in America." The company ranks 34th overall on the 2008 list.
Bikes Belong - Bikes Belong is the U.S. bicycle industry organization dedicated to putting more people on bicycles more often. Bikes Belong Coalition lobbies to increase federal bike funding, awards grants to support innovative bike projects, promotes bicycling and its benefits, and sponsors key initiatives such as the National Bike Summit. The affiliated Bikes Belong Foundation focuses on improving bicycle safety, enhancing children's bike programs, and making communities friendlier for bicyclists by backing national efforts such as Safe Routes to School and Bicycle Friendly Communities.