Written by Carmella Rynearson, PATF Funding Assistance Coordinator
“It’s just like riding a bike… you never forget.” This phrase is often used in reference to activities that come easily, perhaps in fond memory of something you learned to do when you were young. But what if you never had those memories; or if you believe that riding a bike is impossible now due to an injury or illness?
In June, I had the privilege of accompanying Joseph Salva, President of Individual Abilities in Motion (I AM), on a group bicycle ride he scheduled at Lackawanna Heritage Valley. 10 people attended this cycling event. For some, riding a hand cycle or recumbent bike is routine; for others, this was their first time riding a bike since acquiring their disability; and for still others, it was their first bike ride ever. No matter their experience level, everyone was all smiles. I had the opportunity to try a hand cycle for the first time. What an amazing experience—nature, sunshine, a warm breeze, and a sense of exhilaration!
The truly special thing about this day, though, is that it wasn’t exceptional at all: these adaptive cycles are available for free Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm every week through BikeLackawanna, Lackawanna Heritage Valley’s Bikeshare program, at their Scranton office. From that trail head, there are miles of bike-friendly trails in multiple directions available to cyclists. And there is discussion of expanding this program. April Rogato, who helps oversee Lackawanna Heritage Valley trails and programs, said, “We are seeking public input on whether there is interest to add Wednesday evening as an additional time.”
I AM hosts regular group cycling events with BikeLackawanna. At one of their events last September, with support from The University of Scranton, Allied Services and Bike Scranton, Bike-On provided a variety of adaptive cycles including handcycles, pediatric cycles, and recumbent as well as tandem bikes.
I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to try adaptive cycling. At the I AM group ride in June, I met Mackenzie Machell, a student at Lock Haven University. She has muscle weakness, and expressed how much she appreciates the opportunity to ride the adaptive trikes. Another rider stated that it was,
“a liberating experience… a freedom from some of the pain I experience from my spinal cord injury.”
What may seem like an ordinary activity for some, can become an extraordinary experience when it is made accessible to many.
Looking to purchase your own adaptive cycle? PATF can help you locate possible funding resources, or provide a low- or no-interest loan so you can buy one yourself. We don’t charge any fees for our services, and we’d love to help! Contact us for more information or visit our financial loans page.