La Junta High School students help bring Bike Share Program grant to the city

James Bartolo
LA Junta Tribune
La Junta High School student Shealie Schmidt (left) and recent graduate Alyssa Bullock (right) helped the City of La Junta receive over $65,000 for a new Bike Share Program

No car, no motorcycle, no problem.

The La Junta Bike Share Program is a collaborative effort to increase mobility in the City of La Junta. Grants for a bike share program were written by two La Junta High School students: recent graduate Alyssa Bullock and soon-to-be senior Shealie Schmidt.

The two were assisted by La Junta director of economic development Cynthia Nieb and educator Jennifer Hall.

“I first had the idea about two years ago,” said Jeffri Pruyn, mayor of La Junta. “I was looking for a way to get the college students downtown, but then I realized a lot of our citizens could benefit from any new transportation mode in La Junta.

"I’m always looking for a way to involve youth in city projects so having the high school students involved was a great partnership.”

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Efforts received a $65,662.50 award from the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Revitalizing Main Streets program.

"I can't think of anything that was more challenging yet rewarding than writing the CDOT grant during my senior year,” Bullock said.

“During my class ‘Special Topics in Social Studies,’ I met Cynthia Nieb and we landed on the idea of establishing a bike share rental service, which would help not only high school and college students, but the town of La Junta as a whole.”

It was especially a challenge fitting a list of goals for the program into a limited budget, but “was completely worth it in the end."

After her time in the class came to an end, Bullock passed the project to Schmidt in January of 2021. Schmidt helped refine the details of the program’s budget and find partnerships with local businesses.

“In collaboration with Cynthia Nieb and the City of La Junta, we were finally able to submit the grant on May 7, 2021,” Schmidt said. “I am very grateful and blessed to have this opportunity, and I know that this experience will not only help me but the community of La Junta as well.”  

As part of the program, 26 bikes will be deployed for seven bike share stations at locations including Safeway, the La Junta Chamber of Commerce, the Otero County Courthouse, Southeast Health Group, Brick and Tile Park, La Junta City Park and the Koshare Museum. The route will include 30 total bike racks.

“There are lots of people who do not have any sort of car or motorcycle to get to some place, especially a lot of the students up at OJC,” Nieb said. “There was actually a survey taken and there were some people who needed a way to get downtown and would go downtown if they were provided the potential to do that.”

The program will be run through software from ON Bike, a bike share system serving residential areas, commercial districts, college campuses and cities across the nation.

“It is a cloud-based administration software that will allow the owners to track data such as bike locations at the stations, checkout/check in times, and other useful information that can help improve and streamline the service,” Bullock said.

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Partnerships with the Koshare Dancers, Communities That Care and the City of La Junta also played an integral role in bringing a bike share program to the city, Nieb said.

“I am just very proud of this project because it shows how people of La Junta work together,” Nieb said. “This benefits everyone in La Junta, if they would like to bike, and it also shows how all different ages and cross sections of this city can work together.”

The Bike Share program is expected to officially be up and running in the next 3 to 4 months, Nieb said.