Bikes Belong, in partnership with the League of American Bicyclists and with generous support from REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), announced this year’s REI/Bicycle Friendly Community Grant Awards.

These grants, between $15,000 and $20,000 each, were awarded to five grassroots groups that are working closely with their city governments to make conditions better for bicycling in aspiring and designated Bicycle Friendly Communities.

Applicants for these invitation-only grants were asked to present their high-priority bicycling projects within the framework of the BFC program’s five Es-Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation-and explain how theyd execute these initiatives if funding were available.

“The responses confirmed that advocates are doing innovative and exciting work in America’s big cities,” said Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong.

“REI is proud to support the comprehensive and collaborative work of Bikes Belong and the League of American Bicyclists to help make cities and urban areas more safe and welcoming to cycling enthusiasts of all abilities,” said Brad Brown, Bikes Belong Foundation board member and REI vice president of E-Commerce & Web Strategy.

The following groups received REI/BFC Grants and were honored at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. last week. Each grantee will also receive technical assistance from the League’s Bicycle Friendly America staff to help develop and implement their BFC initiatives and improve conditions for bicycling city wide.

Here’s a list of recipients and a brief overview of some of their BFC goals for this year:

  • Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota-Minneapolis, Minnesota: The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota will help boost BFC-related program efforts in Minneapolis-currently a Silver BFC-and communities surrounding it, helping to make the Twin Cities Metro Area better for bicycling through complementary planning, infrastructure improvements, and promotion efforts.

  • Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia will help coordinate and manage construction of the $17 million in trail projects recently awarded to Philadelphia-a Bronze BFC-through the federal TIGER grant process.

  • Cascade Bicycle Club-Seattle, Washington: The Cascade Bicycle Club will continue to work with their Gold-level city to bolster important bicycling initiatives that can serve as models for aspiring BFCs, including Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan, Complete Streets ordinance, and Bike Smart Seattle program.

  • Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition-Los Angeles, California: The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition will work with LA’s bike-friendly council districts and surrounding communities-including Pasadena, Culver City, Burbank, Long Beach, Glendale, and Santa Monica-to build upon regional bike-friendly efforts through the BFC process.

  • Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance-Detroit, Michigan: The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance will continue to implement BFC initiatives and policies in the Motor City by supporting Detroit’s Non-Motorized Transportation Plan in coordination with its own ambitious vision for a greenway network, complete streets, and safe routes for cyclists.

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 in aspiring and designated Bicycle Friendly Communities are selected by our committee and invited to apply for funding to help their cities prioritize and reach BFC goals. The grants provide seed money for program development, bicycle master plans, infrastructure improvements, and innovative pilot projects. The League’s BFC staff also provides grant recipients with consulting expertise to help groups prioritize and reach bicycle-friendly goals and benchmark best practices.

The Bicycle Friendly Community program was developed by the League of American Bicyclists to inspire city governments to create safe, appealing bicycle routes and facilities as well as programs that encourage people of all ages to ride bikes for transportation and recreation. Currently, there are 96 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.