for Bicycling Development

When Ivan Vamos was a young boy in Hungary, his bicycle was a prized possession – representing freedom, mobility and fun. During the Holocaust, Ivan and his family lost everything, including his beloved bicycle. Fortunately, Ivan and his mother survived and immigrated to the United States, settling down in Brooklyn. Ivan quickly re-acquired a bicycle, which again took on those same liberating and empowering qualities.

Founded in 2016, the Vamos Fund For Bicycling Development centers on the empowerment bicycling provides and seeks to bring positive change to immigrant and disadvantaged communities through the freedom, independent mobility, and fun bicycles provide.

New York State is home to many community bike shops and other organizations dedicated to getting underserved populations mobile. This network forms a vibrant part of the bike movement in our state that serves low income and urban folks, many of them immigrants who lack the mobility, freedom, and low-cost transportation represented by owning a bicycle.

In 2017, NYBC presented three community bike shops with mini-grants to support their mission to empower low-income and disenfranchised populations through bicycling:

Go Bike Buffalo

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.

Albany Bike Rescue

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.

Recycle Ithaca’s Bicycles

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.

The Vamos Fund for Bicycling Development is not currently accepting applications for mini-grants. Please check back for updates.

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