February 19, 2020 — Old Spokes Home, a nonprofit bike shop in Burlington’s Old North End neighborhood, was awarded a $1,200 grant from the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) through the Small Grants for Smart Growth Program. The grant will fund the creation of a Transportation Equity Coalition of organizations serving constituents who lack access to an individual motor vehicle.
The Transportation Equity Coalition will consist of eight or more organizations, and will initially inform the development of a pilot mobility audit in Burlington’s Old North End. The Coalition will also ensure sustained representation of the carless in policy-making discussions about transportation infrastructure and services in and around Burlington.
“Equity is too seldom part of the public discourse about transportation and transportation infrastructure in Burlington and around Chittenden County,” says Laura Jacoby, Executive Director of Old Spokes Home. “Approximately 30% of households in parts of the Old North End don’t own a vehicle, many because the cost is prohibitively high. These are people who have very few safe, convenient transportation options and yet are so often absent from public meetings about proposed transportation changes in Burlington.”
Through the Transportation Equity Coalition, Old Spokes Home aims to understand how equity issues inherent in Chittenden County’s transportation infrastructure are impacting the constituencies served by Coalition members. Old Spokes Home also plans for Coalition meetings to serve as a forum for updating members on planning and policy initiatives that are likely to affect them, such as the Winooski Avenue corridor study, the Old North End Walk/Bike study, and Burlington’s Walk Bike Master Plan.
“We want to empower members to participate in these initiatives,” says Jacoby. She also aims to utilize the Coalition as a way to inform community members about Old Spokes Home’s subsidized bike sales and services, and other ways the organization is available to assist the community. Namely, the shop subsidizes the sale of refurbished used bikes, repairs, and accessories for over 500 low-income customers each year as part of its Everybody Bikes program.
“We were particularly pleased to see a project that so directly addresses increasing equity in the transportation realm,” says Kate McCarthy, Sustainable Communities Program Director at VNRC, who administers the Small Grants for Smart Growth program. “We are hopeful that building this coalition for the mobility audit will catalyze further involvement by residents in the future of their neighborhood’s transportation choices.”
The Small Grants for Smart Growth Program, launched by VNRC in 2018, provides seed money for community-based, local initiatives related to smart growth. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Learn more about the program at vnrc.org/small-grants-for-smart-growth.
Small Grants are made possible with assistance from Beth Humstone, co-founder of the Vermont Forum on Sprawl and former VNRC Board Chair, and her son, Chris Gignoux.