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Meet Our 2022 Community Spark Grant Recipients

The League of American Bicyclists is proud to announce the recipients of our 2022 Community Spark Grants, each one a catalyst for empowering communities through bike-related projects. After careful deliberation, the League has chosen 11 organizations to each receive $1,500 towards their goal of building thriving Bicycle Friendly Communities. 

“From border towns and rural communities to urban areas, we are very excited to support the projects and programs proposed by each of the Spark Grant recipients and share our love for grassroots bicycle advocacy efforts in our communities,” said Anna Tang, the League’s Bicycle Friendly America (BFA) program specialist and lead on the Community Spark Grant program. “Our hope is that other communities across the country can look to these recipients and their work as examples of what they can do to make improvements that benefit everyone, but especially those who need safer and easier bicycling the most. These small sparks will ignite a bigger movement towards building a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

Between both the boom in people riding bikes and the staggering increases in traffic violence recorded during the pandemic, there is an urgent need for safer, slower roads that serve the needs of everyone. Local bike advocacy organizations like those earning Spark Grants have taken a lead role in reimagining how communities can reclaim and transform streets through innovative and creative projects. 

Out of 89 applications, the 11 recipients chosen demonstrated a robust ability to catalyze change as well as strengthen and build a Bicycle Friendly Community that is truly for everyone. Many of the projects funded through the grants will serve people facing racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities, as well as address gaps in resources to make bicycling a more feasible option for the community.

The funding for these grants came from the generous support of General Motors and from the Active People, Healthy NationSM Initiative, an effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity to help 27 million Americans become more physically active by 2027.

Whether measured in increased levels of physical activity, higher rates of bike commuting, or just more people choosing to get to everyday destinations by bike, the League is proud to be able to help recipients make a long-lasting impact on their communities through the Community Spark Grant program. We hope to see the benefits of these projects break down barriers within communities and transcend generations. 

Below, learn more about each recipient’s mission, and how they will use their newly-awarded Spark Grant funding to further the work they are doing to better bicycling for everyone in their communities. 

Altadena Town Council – Altadena, CA

Single occupancy vehicles fill the streets of Altadena while a lack of connected walkways and bicycle infrastructure, plus reduced transit service, have resulted in higher rates of pedestrian and bicycle-related traffic collisions and often below-average health scores.

Project Title: Altadena Parkways Multi-benefit Project

Project Description: A community-led demonstration project to build awareness about the need for safe routes to parks and schools, traffic calming, and green street multi-use path solutions. The planned project includes designing a bicycle route from the park to the school(s) and showcasing a temporary bike lane and pedestrian walkway/multi-use pathway.

Bicycle Oven Company – Charlotte, NC

Bicycle Oven Company provides bike education consultations taught by its leader Debra L. Franklin, a longtime bicyclist and a League Cycling Instructor, for those who want to bike better in North Carolina.

Project Title: Seniors: Cycle That Pain Away

Project Description: Physicians are well-positioned to present the health benefits of physical activity to patients but rarely are these efforts to increase physical activity targeted to communities of color or seniors who often face health ailments that make physical activity difficult. Bicycle Oven Company plans to initiate discussions, as well as sponsor webinars and lunch and learn events, with physicians in the area about promoting the health benefit of bicycling as a low-impact sport to their patients. “Ultimately, we will offer Smart Cycling courses for seniors in consultation with their physicians. With this project, we hope that ridership over the age of 50 will increase in Charlotte neighborhoods,” they wrote in their application.

BRIGHT Coalition – Bowling Green, KY

The BRIGHT Coalition is supporting BikeWalk BG in a collaborative effort to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety and education in an area with a large number of non-English speaking families and residents who face issues like physical inactivity at a disproportionate rate. 

Project Title: Make BG’s Biking BRIGHTer

Project Description: The project includes supplying low-income families with bike safety equipment, including enhanced visibility bicycle and shoe lights, reflective gear, and helmets. As a population that might not otherwise have safety gear, the project hopes to improve the safety of all BG residents. 

City of Lansing – Lansing, MI

One of the prime resident and tourist highlights in the City of Lansing is the Lansing River Trail, with its more than 20 miles of paved pathways for bicycling and walking that branch out from downtown along the area’s waterways.

Project title: Wheel Change: Lansing Bike Repair Station

Project Description: With the installation of a fully-equipped bike repair station, the City of Lansing’s Public Service Department aims to increase the number of bicyclists who utilize the Lansing River Trail and enhance multi-modal transit options for the significant population of refugees and long-time Lansing residents who garden at Webster Farms. A bike repair station with plenty of tools, an air pump and a stand will not only keep cyclists safe from breakdowns but will strengthen the biking community in South Lansing and the city as a whole.

East Side Bike Club – Buffalo, NY

East Side Bike Club works to support Buffalo’s biking community through access to bike facilities, community service, and education. There are very few facilities for those who commute by bike in Buffalo’s East Side despite the fact that 1 in 3 households in the area do not own a personal vehicle.

Project Title: Amplifying and Enhancing the East Side Bike Club Community Workshop and E-Bike Library

Project Description: This project involves implementing a bicycle and pedestrian refuge for those passing by or stopping at the shop. There are no bike racks or benches on the street where the shop is located, despite being located at the heart of Buffalo’s densest Black commercial district. The installation of bicycle racks and benches at this location would increase the bikeability and walkability of this area.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz – Morgantown, WV

Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FB4K) collects, fixes, and donates bikes in 15 cities, including Morgantown, WV, providing low-income families with free bicycles that promote physical activity and active transportation. While most FB4K chapters are housed in larger cities, FB4K Morgantown has significant potential to contribute to equity as a third (32.7%) of locals live below the poverty line.

Project Title: Free Bikes 4 Kidz Morgantown

Project Description: FB4K Morgantown needs a large capacity bike rack to be able to more efficiently collect and distribute donated bikes. “We have 35 bikes coming soon from Chicago. Long-term, we hope to keep on hand a fleet of ready-to-give-away bikes, in a range of sizes, so kids can keep bikes instead of borrowing them. We feel that kids should have the opportunity to bond with their bicycles as we have,” they wrote in their application. 

Girls in Gear – Newark, NJ

Girls in Gear’s mission is to “teach girls life skills through bike skills because bikes are extraordinary tools for change in ourselves and our communities as a conduit for lessons on kindness, compassion, and inner strength.” 

Project Title: Girls in Gear Newark 

Project Description: This grant will be used to provide bikes and helmets for two teams of 15 girls in Newark with an eight-week season of Girls in Gear this fall. In addition, first aid and CPR certification as well as comprehensive safety training will be administered to volunteer coaches who will lead the curriculum. “By providing bikes, and helmets to any rider who needs one, we are breaking down the barriers to entry for cycling, which can frequently seem daunting for a working-class family. Our no questions asked scholarship policy helps ensure every rider’s opportunity to get involved is not limited by cost in any way,” stated Girls in Gear in their application.

Laredo Main Street – Laredo, TX

Laredo Main Street hosts the Laredo Main Street Farmers Market, which includes seasonal produce and locally made goods, as well as entertainment. As Laredo is a food desert, the event is essential to the residents of Laredo, a predominantly Hispanic population. 

Project Title: RECYCLE

Project Description: RECYCLE is a project that will give the community an opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills associated with bicycle maintenance at Laredo Main Street’s Farmers Market. Through the project, RECYCLErs will repair bicycles, conduct maintenance, assist people with learning how to bike, and disseminate educational information related to the health benefits of biking, bike safety, and STEM-related content. Moreover, the RECYCLE project will also serve as a repository for bicycle donations and repair and/or repaint as needed. The RECYCLErs will then, in turn, donate bicycles to people in need.

Thrive Allen County – Iola, KS

Thrive Allen County, a rural health advocacy organization, runs a free bike share program, an earn-a-bike program, and bike repair classes to make bicycling in Allen County more convenient. Allen County has a poverty rate of 14.5% and 20% of residents do not have access to reliable transportation. Thrive Allen County has also advocated for trails and connected bike networks across Allen County, including working with the City of Iola to pass a Complete Streets policy. 

Project Title: Allen Community College Fixit Service Station

Project Description: This project will install a fix-it station for a rural community that relies on bicycles as a main source of transportation. The station would alleviate the time and resources that Thrive’s bike and trails coordinator spends on maintaining bikes and the bike-share fleet and allow them to focus more time on other aspects of the program.

Tulsa Global District – Tulsa, OK

Tulsa Global District is a 501(c)3 organization committed to the commercial revitalization of the 21st St & S Garnett Road commercial corridor, which their application described as “the most diverse community in Tulsa, with 54% of residents identifying as Black, Indigenous and People of Color including significant Latinx and Asian communities represented.” 

Project Title: Global District Open Streets 

Project Description: This project will host an open streets event in the Global District, as an implementation effort of the NACTO Streets for Kids Design Workshop. This event would close down 21st Street and help residents and City officials visualize how it could be used in a way that prioritizes families and children. Open Streets activities include offering community resources, kids’ games, a visioning station, and temporary elements to create a safer space for people with pedestrian crosswalks, bike lanes, street art, etc. 

The University of Texas at Arlington – Arlington, TX

The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) is a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly University. The UTA Bike Library is an emerging campus partnership that circulates bicycles checked out from the campus libraries on a semesterly basis at no cost to members of the UTA community.

Project Title: UTA Bike Library (lights & locks)

Project Description: This grant will support the purchase of lights and locks for the UTA Bike Library. “Our bike library will be better able to meet the needs of the community who already want to be more active cyclists and will be able to introduce new cyclists to the empowering joy of riding a bicycle!” they wrote in their application. 

The League will follow and share the progress of the 2022 Community Spark Grant projects, which will begin popping up as soon as this fall and will continue into next year. Sign up for our biweekly e-newsletter to follow updates on the next round of grant applications and other resources.

Community advocates looking for a way to gain technical assistance and/or recognition for the work they are doing to become more welcoming for bicyclists should consider applying for an award from one of the Bicycle Friendly America programs. The BFA℠ program is a tool for states, communities, businesses and universities to make bicycling a real transportation and recreation option for all people and it recognizes those doing it well. We are always looking for new voices to join our growing community of changemakers across the nation!