Friday, September 28, 2007

REI Grants $100,000 to Bikes Belong Foundation

BOULDER, Colo. — Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail cooperative providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, announced that it has provided a $100,000 grant to the Bikes Belong Foundation to support a series of grant awards to help U.S. cities become more bicycle friendly. The Bikes Belong Foundation, in cooperation with the League of American Bicyclists, will direct the new effort.

REI's financial support will enhance the successful Bicycle Friendly Communities program (BFC), which was launched by the league in 1997 and has been supported since 2001 by Bikes Belong. The program inspires city governments to create safe, appealing and interconnected bicycle routes and facilities, as well as programs that encourage citizens to ride bikes for transportation and recreation. To date, 73 communities across the country have been honored with bronze, silver, gold or platinum BFC awards. Bikes Belong will distribute grants in two cycles of four to five awards each, with the first cycle scheduled for January 2008.

The grant from REI will help designated Bicycle Friendly Communities achieve their long-term bicycle-friendly goals by providing seed money for technical assistance and evaluation, bicycle master plans, infrastructure improvements, and innovative pilot programs and projects. The BFC review committee—comprising League and Bikes Belong staff—will invite communities that exhibit ambition and potential to improve their bicycle facilities and programs to apply for the funding.

The Bikes Belong Foundation is dedicated to getting more people riding bicycles more often. The Foundation focuses on improving bicycle safety, enhancing children's bike programs, and helping communities become more bike friendly. The Foundation's sister organization, the Bikes Belong Coalition, works to maximize government support for bicycling, awards grants to support innovative bike projects, and promotes bicycling and its many benefits to the general public.

REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions. For 10 consecutive years, REI has been recognized by FORTUNE magazine as one of "100 Best Companies to Work for in America." In 2007, the company ranked 27th overall and first among companies that encourage employees to balance their work and personal lives.

The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of 57 million American cyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates.

This grant helps reinforce REI's commitment to making outdoor recreation more accessible to everyone. The benefits include less pollution and healthier populations.

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