by Elyse Monat, Active Transportation Planner for the City of Billings
Billings will more than double the number of bike racks in downtown in the next year thanks to a generous grant from the Montana Office of Tourism & Business Development. The grant funded approximately 30 racks, which will be placed downtown along with the 21 racks that are currently installed. These racks will be similar to the ones currently scattered around downtown, like the two at Skypoint, but will feature the addition of a metal plate in the middle with the community brand logo, “Billings, Montana’s Trailhead.”
The grant required a local match of $1 for every $2 provided by the State. Four local organizations stepped up to provide this match including Billings TrailNet, the Downtown Billings Alliance, Pedal United, and Visit Billings.
“We are proud to be a partner with the City of Billings on this project. Having uniform racks around downtown shows people we are a bike-friendly city that encourages people to ride. Not only does the design show that we have some pride in our downtown, these particular bike racks make locking up with a U-lock easy- and it’s important people to have a secure way to park their bikes,” said Kristi Drake from Billings TrailNet.
According to the Montana Office of Tourism & Business Development, “the tourism grant program awards funds to projects that strengthen Montana’s economy through the development and enhancement of the state’s tourism and recreation industry.” The Montana Destination Brand Research Study from the State finds that people who come to Montana to bike are expected to spend more money overall than those who come for any other type of activity in warm weather, so improving bicycling infrastructure in the Billings Area could mean more money in the pockets of local businesses. The Study also predicts that cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. have the highest potential number of visitors to Montana. These cities all have bicycling infrastructure and bike share downtown, so visitors from these locations likely want to travel around downtown Billings without a car. These new bike racks will allow visitors and residents alike to lock up their bicycles safely outside of the many great restaurants, breweries, and shops that downtown Billings has to offer.
Downtown businesses can apply for a rack outside of their business for only $50. This funding helps cover maintenance of the racks and allows for the purchase of additional racks. To learn more or apply for a rack for your business, contact Elyse Monat, Active Transportation Planner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 406-247-8637.