BEST has been promoting sustainable transportation in the Lower Mainland of BC since 1991. Formed by a group of dedicated cyclists 26 years ago, BEST opened Vancouver’s first do-it-yourself bike store (Our Community Bikes) and coordinated Ride for the Environment events during National Environment Week, at a time when bicycling was still a fringe transportation mode. In 1994 BEST decided to be more inclusive, changing its mandate to promoting all forms of sustainable transportation. With this we started organizing the BC chapter of Commuter Challenge, a national one-week initiative where participants commute sustainably for a chance to win great prizes. We converted our Bike Week to Bike Month.
Did you know that BEST?
started Our Community Bikes in 1993, Vancouver’s first do-it-yourself bike store?
initiated the first Bike Week in 1996, before focusing on Commuter Challenge, a more inclusive celebration of sustainable transportation?
was awarded the first one million dollar grant from Vancity in 2001 to support development of the Central Valley Greenway?
operated eight Bicycle Valet stations for two weeks during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics?
Has safely parked over 150 000 bikes?
In 1997 we launched the Go Green Choices Program, working with Translink, the regional transportation authority, to promote sustainable transportation to workplaces. Two years later we spun Our Community Bikes into its own non-profit, PEDAL, which now runs summer bike camps for kids, refurbishes old bikes, and trains and teaches people to fix their own bikes. Also that year we started Street Reclaiming, Moving for Change, and Off Ramp, an internationally awarded project promoting sustainable transportation in secondary schools.
In 2001 BEST was awarded the first one million dollar grant from Vancity, used to develop and leverage funding for the Central Valley Greenway, a 20 km long regional urban trail from Vancouver to New Westminster, which is heavily used today for cycling and walking. For this work, BEST received the City of Burnaby Gold Environmental Star. More importantly, the Greenway served as a catalyst for a constituency for active transportation.
We created and ran an annual celebratory campaign aimed at promoting bicycling in the Province, June is Bike Month, resulting in unprecedented media coverage and awareness. After running Bike Month for ten years, we felt enough ground had been covered, and moved from building awareness, to concentrating on making sustainable choices easier. In 2016 we brought the initiative back online in a small way to highlight the great cycling activities going on in the region.
More recently, BEST has focused on building viable social enterprises based on offering services to encourage and enable sustainable modes of transportation. These programs include STAR, Seniors Transportation Access Resources, Living Streets, a unique model of engaging recent immigrants to affect change to the pedestrian experience in their neighbourhood, Commuter Challenge, a free one week national initiative encouraging sustainable commuting, and The Bicycle Valet, free and safe bicycle parking for events. Beginning in 2016, BEST is offering Parkbus BC to transport people to BC Provincial Parks without the need for a car.