Light Bike & Mural located on the South Alley Wall of The Pub Station, 2502 1st Ave. N. This is the location of downtown’s first Light Bike alley-scape project. | photo courtesy of Downtown Billings Alliance

Art Installment Brings a New Kind of Trail to Downtown Billings

April 22, 2021

from April 22, 2021 Downtown Billings Alliance Media Release

In Billings we are fortunate to have a growing network of multi-use trails throughout our city. An in-creation public art project is adding a new trail to downtown Billings with a twist. The Light Bike Trail, created for the community by the Downtown Billings Alliance (DBA), is an in-progress, mapped, walkable trail of 11 neon-lit bicycle art installations, running through the alleys of downtown Billings. 

FOLLOW THE LIGHTS

The trail will begin at Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill, moving west towards The Northern Hotel, crossing 1st Avenue North at North 29th Street to the alleyway behind YesterYears Antiques, wrapping up at the Hedden Empire Building on North 29th Street. 

The Light Bike Trail is multi-purpose, not only will it be lovely to look at (along with the murals sprinkled throughout downtown Billings), but it will invite residents and visitors alike to explore spaces often left in the shadows. The intention of the project is to create a source of light, clean up alleyways, deter crime, and create a landscape for future alley-scape projects.

To get the wheels rolling on this project, the DBA submitted the project to the Big Sky Economic Development Space2Place grant program with the goal of installing nine additional light bikes across downtown with installations at Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill, Griffin Sawyer building, Cushing Terrel Architects, Uberbrew, Buchanan Capital, the Pub Station (where the first bike was installed in 2019), The Northern Hotel, YesterYears Antiques, DBA, and the Hedden Empire Building (where the second light bike was installed in 2020).

The second Light Bike is located on the North Wall of the Hedden Empire Building 29th Street Alley. This Light Bike is part of a multi-phase alley-scape project. The overhead lighting was partly funded by a 2020 Space2Place Grant. More about that alley project found here

FUNDING THE TRAIL

To complete this project, the DBA anticipates costs of $15,000. It was recently announced that the Light Bike Trail is a recipient of Big Sky Economic Development's 2021 Space2Place grant, which will contribute $3,000 to the overall funding efforts. Beyond that, funds will be secured via financial commitments from each building owner toward the install of their specific light bikes and additional financial support from sponsors, public art donations, and 50/50 raffle funds to be raised at the July 10, 2021 Strawberry Festival. To date, all of the bikes have been donated by community members. Additionally, the downtown Billings Business Improvement District will contribute all labor and materials required for the preparation and install of the light bikes and volunteers will be called upon for alley clean-up events surrounding the installation of each light. 

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Literally. 

“As the Light Bike Trail evolves, and various forms of funding become available, we hope to commission a mural on every wall where a light bike is located,” says Katy Easton, CEO of the DBA, “We strive to highlight local artists.” Furthermore, Easton notes that, “We are committed to adding and supporting impactful public art projects like these light bikes because people are drawn to travel to view, photograph, dream, and eventually create murals and additional alley-scape elements to add to these spaces.” 

More than being a charming addition to our downtown landscape that will attract tourists, community members, social media influencers, and artists, says Lindsay Richardson (DBA Director of Community Engagement & Events), this project will follow Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design protocol and implement recommended safety features to make downtown Billings a safer place to be. BID Director of Operations, Joe Stout, adds that “...it’s great for overall public safety, as it brings more eyes and desired activity on a once easy to overlook alley. It enhances the safety and experience everyone has downtown.” 

EXPERIENCING THE LIGHT BIKE TRAIL

As the Light Bike Trail reaches completion, the public is invited to experience this unique trail by simply walking the alleyways to view these pieces of art. Moving forward, the DBA will create and launch an online accessible map of the trail. As you take in the sights of the Light Bike Trail, engage with downtown Billings, the DBA, and the attached businesses by using the hashtag #lightbiketrail, and share your experience across your social media platforms. 

“We have a walking brew trail, and now we have a Light Bike Trail you can walk or cruise your own bicycle through the alleys to experience. We can’t wait to see locals and visitors enjoying this addition to downtown,” says Richardson. 

The DBA is a non-profit organization that promotes and advocates for a vital city center through programmatic and place-making elements like event management, business development effort and projects, TIF district management, public art, green space development, and other downtown beautification projects. For more information on the event visit downtownbillings.com

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