The Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition is an emerging community-based coalition. Our members include commuters, road riders, mountain bikers, and others who seek to promote the individual and community benefits of bicycling to citizens of metropolitan Grand Rapids.
History of the Coalition
The Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition traces its roots to a conversation over coffee between two Grand Rapids residents where a plan for the first Grand Rapids bicycle summit was hatched. That summit, held in April 2009 at Grand Valley State University’s Loosemore Auditorium in downtown Grand Rapids, attracted over 200 people who wanted help metropolitan Grand Rapids create safe, convenient opportunities for all types of bicycling. The attendees exchanged ideas about improving cycling conditions in Grand Rapids and explored the community's interest in pursuing a “Bicycle Friendly Community” designation for the city.
GGRBC is an outgrowth of the successful 2009 Grand Rapids Bike Summit. Following the Summit, the Summit committee and others realized Greater Grand Rapids had a variety of organizations that host cycling activities and events, but did not have a central organization focused on advocating for bicycling in the community.
GGRBC's founders decided that to continue the momentum from the Summit, they needed to organize a group that would advocate for increased bicycling opportunities. The new coalition would work with local governments, corporations, small businesses, and community organizations to create a more bicycle-friendly Greater Grand Rapids. It would become the region’s primary entity to promote and advocate for bicycle use from a community-wide, systems perspective.
In the fall of 2009, the Summit committee legally organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation under the name Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition. The GGRBC reached out to the major bicycling organizations in the community for their endorsement and support. The advocacy and education role of GGRBC has been officially endorsed by the Rapid Wheelmen Bicycle Club, the Western Chapter of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association, the Green Grand Rapids Coalition, the League of American Bicyclists, and others.
In October of 2009 GGRBC was proud to present City of Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell with a sign designating the Grand Rapids metropolitan area as a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. The League highlighted the region's extensive trail system and the dozens of organizations, teams, and businesses promoting opportunities for bicycling in our community.
We welcome the support of our coalition member organizations, and all bicyclists in our community, to make sure our voices are heard and the future is bright for cycling in Grand Rapids. If you're interested in learning about the work we are doing and opportunities to get involved, click on the Get Involved tab above.
Timeline and Accomplishments
- In October, cycling champions involved with the City of Grand Rapids’ Green Grand Rapids planning process start meeting monthly as the Bike Grand Rapids Coalition to plan the 2009 Grand Rapids Bike Summit.
- Over 200 attend the day-long 2009 Grand Rapids Bike Summit held in April at GVSU’s Loosemore Auditorium. The bicycle coalition raises $8,750 for the conference from Frey Foundation, Meijer Foundation, Bissell, CycleSafe, City of Grand Rapids, County of Kent, Grand Valley Metropolitan Council, Rapid Wheelmen Bicycle Club, and Michigan Mountain Biking Association.
- The new bicycle coalition continues to meet as the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition and works with the City of Grand Rapids to prepare the regional Bicycle Friendly Community application to the League of American Bicyclists.
- GGRBC is established in October as a nonprofit organization.
- In October, the Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community designation is awarded to metropolitan Grand Rapids by the League of American Bicyclists.
- After a strategic planning process guided by organizational consultant Dave Medema, the GGRBC Mission and Funding Plan is completed in December.
- GGRBC is awarded a $6,000 grant from Specialized Bicycle Components.
- The second Bikestock bicycle and music festival is hosted by GGRBC at Rosa Parks Circle. Over 2,000 attend the six-hour event.
- GGRBC contributes $1,500 to the City of Grand Rapids Nonmotorized Plan.
- Thomas Tilma begins as part-time interim director of GGRBC in September.
- GGRBC receives a $7,175 grant from the Dyer-Ives Foundation for website development, and the website is launched in March.
- The Coalition hosts the 2011 Grand Rapids Bicycle Summit on May 6 at GVSU’s Eberhard Center. With $13,400 in contributions from 34 sponsors, GGRBC offers an inspiring event with over 200 attendees, 25 exhibitors, and 38 workshop presenters and moderators. Keynote speakers were the nationally-known bicycling and pedestrian advocate Darwin Hindman, former mayor of Columbia, Mo., and the pioneering Seattle-based bicycle planner Peter Lagerwey.
- During National Bike Month, GGRBC organizes the first Mayor’s Bike to Work Day and cosponsors the third annual Mayor’s Bike Ride.
- The 2008 BikeGR Map is completely revised and updated by GGRBC. With $6,000 in support from ten advertisers, 10,000 copies of the 2011-2012 Bike Grand Rapids Map are published.
- Bikestock III is presented by GGRBC in conjunction with the Grand Cycling Classic.
- The Coalition receives a $2,500 grant from the Kent County Health Department for the region’s first bicycle traffic count program. The first surveys are conducted in September.
- Priority Health is the first participant in GGRBC’s Bicycle-Friendly Employer Program.
- The Coalition’s Board of Directors holds a strategic planning retreat in October.
- At its first annual membership meeting in November, the Coalition announces its Founding Sponsors Campaign for full-time staffing to implement its advocacy and education priorities.
- GGRBC's 100 by 2014: Bike Lanes Now! advocacy campaign begins, and in August the City of Grand Rapids announces new bike lanes on 26 miles of streets.
- Planning begins for the April start of the Coalition’s youth bicycle safety education program.
- The Coalition receives the 2012 Community Support for Bicycling Award from the League of Michigan Bicyclists.
- GGRBC’s first Active Commute Week, May 14-18, involves 507 individuals and 17 corporate teams in the commuter challenge, 8 Bike to Work Day Rally Stops, and Grand Rapids Mayor Heartwell commuting to City Hall by bike.
- GGRBC's Handlebar Happy Hour quarterly networking events begin in June.
- Our second and third bicycle traffic counts and surveys are conducted in June and September at four sites.
- The Coalition is awarded $130,000 in grants from the Frey, Grand Rapids Community, and Wege foundations, and Founding Sponsors Campaign pledges total $51,000.
- Handlebar Happy Hour events are held in January and April.
- Our Active Commute Week 2013 takes place during National Bike to Work Week, featuring the Active Commute Week Challenge, Bike to Work Day Pit Stops, and the Active Commute Week Celebration.
- GGRBC hires Tom Tilma as its first executive director on June 1st.
- GGRBC is the charity partner for New Belgium Brewing Co.'s June 21st Grand Rapids Clips Beer & Film Tour--$13,600 raised for Room to Ride, our rebranded campaign for 100 miles of bike lanes in Metro Grand Rapids by 2015.
- The Coaltion's Room to Ride campaign continues its success with a total of 28 miles of bike lanes installed by July.
- In July, GGRBC reapplies to the League of American Bicyclists for the City of Grand Rapids' Bicycle Friendly Community designation.