Although our primary focus is on youth bicycle education, youth are just one aspect of the Austin community, and bicycles, in this case tricycles, are for all ages. We recently received five (5) adult trikes so that we could provide safe outdoor low impact recreation to students with mobility and developmental challenges. These are also the perfect platform for older individuals who either cannot or do not want to ride a traditional bicycle but would like to receive the same health and mobility benefits.
The idea for this program began in the spring of 2014 with the approval and initiation of the Pedernales All Ages Protected Bikeway. This created the opportunity to provide bicycle based low impact recreation, exploration and active transportation for members of the Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center. To ensure the program is available to all members regardless of skill level and ability to balance, adult trikes (3-wheels) will be used to enable a low bar of entry skill wise and help remove the fear of falling which would be present if traditional bicycles were used.
The Conley-Gurrero Senior Activity Center (808 Nile Street – 512-978-2660) has 700 registered members ages 50+ and is in a perfect geographical position to bike to a range of facilities and destinations along with limited elevation change. It is adjacent to the Boggy Creek Green Belt and Trail and the Pedernales All Ages and Abilities Protected Bikeway. The Boggy Creek Trail enables riding through the large park as well as being an urban trail connection to the Rosewood Recreation Center, Downs Fields, and once the Upper Boggy Creek Trail is completed, to the Sustainable Foods Center, Creative Action, and the MLK Transit Station with both bus and light rail access. The Pedernales Bikeway provides access to Metz Recreation Center, Lady Bird Lake, Butler Trail, and even HEB. It also connects in with the Lance Armstrong Bikeway which leads west to Downtown and east to locations such as Meals on Wheels.
Consider the future use case where participants who use public transportation to arrive at the Senior Center can then ride on the Pedernales Protected Bikeway to HEB to buy groceries for a day or two as well as taking grocery orders from others at the center rather than needing to make a special separate trip. After storing the sacks of groceries in the fridge at the center, they take their grocery bag home on the bus. All bikes have integrated baskets which make this task easy.
They will now be able to ride to Lady Bird Lake to check out the ducks, sit on a bench looking at the lake, and enjoy some shade next to the water. If access issues across the Longhorn Damn are ever resolved, and an all ages and all abilities route is developed, participants would be able to visit the south shore peninsula, scenic overlook, and gazebo in addition to exploring the The Trail Foundation’s recently completed Boardwalk.
The program will begin with five (5) adult trikes for participants plus Bike Share of Austin a loaned B-Cycle bicycle for a Conley-Guerrero staff member to ride along with the group of participants and instructors. The bike is a color match for the trikes so it fits nicely in with them visually. Trikes, bikes, helmets, pumps, basic tools and parts to maintain the fleet will be stored on-site. Prospective participants will need to complete an initial equipment and safety orientation as well as riding proficiency check prior to participating in off-site rides. The adult education component will be led by Bike Austin. The trikes and equipment will also be used to provide bicycle access to youth with developmental challenges as needed.
The trikes were partially funded by Chameleon Cold Brew and sold at a discount by Austin Bikes. They were assembled as part of a Chameleon Cold Brew team building event assisted by eight Earn-A-Bike and Bike Club participants at the Boys and Girls Club of Austin East Club to unbox and build them. Final adjustments, make ready work, and safety checks were performed for free by East Side Pedal Pushers. The trikes were then delivered to Conley-Guerrero by youth Bike Club members Larenz, Denzel, and Quentin. Formal project unveiling will be the first week of August with a program start mid-September once the Senior Center switches over to its fall schedule and finalizes the day of the week and time (in all likelihood, either Tuesdays or Thursdays at 9am).
Assuming a high demand and successful program, there are opportunities for it to expand in its current form (grow the size of the trike fleet) as well as expand in scope (front load adult passenger trikes which carry two passengers). This type of program, where a volunteer lends their legs, has been successful in Europe as a way to build community and provide access to the outdoors and destinations for mobility restricted seniors for whom riding a bike or a trike may not be of interest or even an option. A video profiling this sort of program is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6Ti4qUa-OU
A very successful program serving youth with sight impairment and/or blindness has been provided by Social Cycling’s Lend Your Legs group for the School for the Blind in Austin since 2011. Check out a video about their program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBoMekY35pc