COLUMBIA — There won't be any free T-shirts at the Bike, Walk & Wheel Week this spring.
Funding for the 10th annual event planned for May will fall from $108,000 to $5,000 due to the loss of $103,000 from the federal GetAbout Columbia grant that has since run its course.
T-shirts alone last year cost three times the amount of this year's budget.
The city plans to continue pitching in $5,000, but no other funds have been identified. The loss of funding means that Bike, Walk & Wheel Week will have to be conducted more like it was when it first began, relying on volunteers and community support.
Janet Godon, director of programs for the PedNet Coalition, said the T-shirts that have become an icon of the event will not be possible this year.
Cycle Recycle, an event where donated bikes are refurbished and given away, will also be discontinued, Godon said, adding that PedNet hopes to continue the bike
donations outside of Bike, Walk & Wheel Week.
The loss of funds means no money for paid staff. In 2010, PedNet was paid $63,468 for labor and other costs. PedNet was a paid consultant for the $22 million federal GetAbout initiative designed to promote non-motorized transportation.
Godon said that a small amount of the budget will go toward advertising and that PedNet hopes to promote this year's event through city utility bills, Leisure Times published by the city Department of Parks and Recreation, the PedNet website and a variety of e-newsletters. These represent “in-kind support,” Godon said.
Godon believes the loss of funding will not result in a loss of support from local businesses and organizations that have helped in previous years because the event has become well known.
The breakfast stations and walk-to-school day will remain the focus, and that’s where most of the city money will go, Godon said.
Excitement remains high for the organizers despite the financial setback for this year's event, Godon said. Bike, Walk & Wheel Week was being planned for mid-May, but the dates had not been set.
According to last year's budget, spending included:
- $63,468 to PedNet Coalition for labor and other expenses.
- $3,197 in labor costs for Vangel Associates, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm involved in marketing the GetAbout Columbia initiative.
- $19,508 in "direct costs" to Vangel that included $15,192 for 4,969 T-shirts as well as posters, brochures and other marketing.
- $11,442 to Bucket Media of Columbia, the contractor that handled advertising placement.