New York and Chicago Groups Receive $15,000 REI Grants to Improve BicyclingThis is encouraging. As an REI member, I've been disappointed to see so many California stores located in strip malls adjacent to a WalMart or Costco. Where was REI's self-proclaimed commitment to "stewardship" of the natural environment so necessary for outdoor recreation, I wondered. Are they simply a massive retailing co-op no better than their big box retail neighbors?
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." (Read more.)
Even the store in San Francisco, while easy enough to reach by bicycle, is located in an area poorly served by transit and features an expansive parking lot. It's gratifying to see this major retailer step up for bicyclists, a not insignificant share of its customers.
Image: Web capture. Bike racks at REI store in Denver.
Visit Bike Your Drive, REI.com
Visit: Bike retailers warm to commuting market, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site