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Billings lights the way with first 'Light Bike Trail' illuminating dark alleys

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Posted at 4:57 PM, Nov 20, 2023

BILLINGS- Billings is known for its trails, and you can add another to the list, as the Downtown Billings Alliance says the Light Bike trail is nearly complete.

“Positive activity doesn’t usually happen in an alley,” said Lindsay Richardson with the Downtown Billings Alliance.

But the group is hoping this project will embolden people to visit places in the city they would’ve never gone before.

“It’s been a real patchwork quilt this project has been,” she said.

It’s because at first, she says the project was completed little by little when funding became available, but now a $40,000 grant from the state will allow it to be finished.

Which is good, because Billings could use more light in places where darkness lies.

“More light, more art more ownership equals cleaner, safer, healthier spaces,” she said.

The Light Bike Trail is a transformation no city has seen before, but one perhaps Billings needed the most.

Richardson says it started with one mural and a bike with LED lights on the wheels behind the Pub Station.

But the trend grew.

“Owners were starting to notice alleyways you never wanted to walk into were places people were walking into on purpose,” said Richardson.

Those places had purpose: to catch a glimpse of a mural and a lit-up bike, snap a pic and make a memory.

And the idea grew to 10 murals and Light Bikes all around downtown Billings.

“We have the brewery trail, the walking trail and so we thought, let’s have another trail,” said Richardson.

And artists united to help make it happen.

“We have been wanting a mural on that alley forever,” said Billings artist Lynn Shield.

That alley she's referring to is the one behind the Sandstone Gallery on the 2900 block of Second Avenue North, where the artists got together and created the most vibrant scene of wildlife and flora with a bike light to finish it off.

“It’s awesome. I think it just brightens everything up, it brings people in for a variety of reasons. If they weren’t coming to see our gallery, maybe they were just coming to see the mural that they’d seen somewhere out and about,” said Shield.

By day, the alleys are filled with colorful imagery tempting many to explore. But by night, those spaces act as a night light, directing an aversion of a dark alley into a cheerful focal point in the Magic City.

“Our goal is to have more people exploring more spaces in downtown,” said Richardson. “We just expanded the downtown footprint by adding positive spaces that were once negative.”

The map to the Light Bike walking trail can be found here.