The Vamos Fund for Bicycling Development Grants
When Ivan Vamos was a young boy in Hungary, his bicycle was a prized possession – representing freedom, mobility and fun! Unfortunately, this was WWII and the Nazis took away bicycles from the Jews. Fortunately for NYBC – which Ivan and other former state colleagues founded over 25 years ago – Ivan and his mother survived and made it to Brooklyn. Ivan quickly re-acquired a bicycle, which again took on those same liberating and empowering qualities.
The Vamos Fund For Bicycling Development, with the help of NYBC, supports exciting bike shop/bike organization projects that enable immigrants and other new bicyclists get rolling and experience the same joys that Ivan did.
New York State is blessed with a plethora of community bike shops and other organizations dedicated to getting under served populations on a bike. This network forms a vibrant part of the bike movement in our state that serves low income and usually urban folks, many of them immigrants who lack the mobility, freedom and green transportation represented by owning their very own bicycle. A portion of these potential bicyclists are even more vulnerable road users than usual because English may not yet be their primary language, or they perhaps grew up in a different cultural or environmental context.
Which is why we awarded three small grants from the Vamos Fund to:
GObike Buffalo will partner with Friends of Night people to host two pop-up bicycle workshops. During these workshops a total of 20 Buffalonians identified from the population of disadvantaged, homeless, and destitute individuals served by Friends of Night People will each work on fixing a donated bicycle for themselves. Participants will learn basic maintenance and roadside repair while working alongside GObike staff to refurbish a bicycle that they will be able to keep. Each participant will also receive lesson on the rules of the road, bike safety, and route planning. They will receive a set of lights, u lock, at repair kit, helmet, and membership to GObike Buffalo so they may visit the community workshop to continue to maintain their bicycle.The bicycles will serve as an inexpensive, reliable, healthy transportation option to help assist the individuals receiving them with gaining and maintaining employment, beginning or further educational pursuits, securing permanent housing, or being able to keep up with any necessary medical care.
ABR will acquire, recondition and provide up to 30 good quality used bicycles for use by immigrant adults as transportation. ABR is the recipient of bicycles donated by individuals and local bicycle shops, and volunteers recondition the donated bicycles to make them road worthy and mechanically safe again. ABR has made preliminary contact with the Trinity Alliance, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and the Capital City Rescue Mission for the purpose of establishing the need and the distribution route for the reconditioned bicycles. Inner city residents and immigrants join ABR in order to access the workshops, obtain volunteer assistance, and obtain bicycles at little cost. ABR is one of the few local conduits for individuals and bike shops to dispose of unwanted but still serviceable bicycles, parts and accessories.
RIBs will make the offerings of their community bike shop hours more robust, improving in three primary growth areas: individual attention to bike builders during shop hours; outreach across diverse membership in the community; and regular public events celebrating bicycle awareness and teaching bicycle safety. By growing the capacity for one-on-one teaching of bike building skills in shop, RIBs will improve the rate at which community members can access our resources. By extending outreach to other organizations and building collaborations with existing partners, RIBs will their network of users more widespread and stronger, including low-income communities and seasonal farm laborers living in the city as well as the surrounding areas. And by coordinating with the Southside Community Center and IWR to make regular public events happen, RIBs will make resources more relevant and accessible to people of color and immigrant communities in Ithaca.
For now, we have exhausted the funds with the three recent awards but we are actively seeking additional support and plan to make additional grants in the future!