REACH program partners with Lebanon groups to recycle bicycles, improve access to transportation
Penn State REACH, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded program awarded to Penn State College of Medicine, and local partners in Lebanon have launched a new program that puts more bikes on the street and sidewalks throughout the community.
The Lebanon Bicycle Recycle (LBR) initiative was formed in collaboration with the Lebanon Valley Bike Coalition (LVBC) beginning fall of 2021. Through some community partner conversations, discussions with the Lebanon School District and information collected by community health worker Madeline Bermudez, the REACH team found that cycling is in high demand across Lebanon County and in the Hispanic and Latino communities. Cycling is popular not only because of its physical activity benefits but also as a means to access food and get to work, health appointments and other important commitments.
With this information under their belts, the REACH team connected with LVBC to get the bicycle recycle program established. The LVBC was founded in
2008 with a mission to advocate for safe cycling in the community, so they were the perfect partner, said Laurie Crawford, REACH project manager.
“The collaboration with the LVBC through LBR helps REACH achieve our goals for improving physical activity in our priority populations and to improve the ability to get to their everyday destinations,” said Andrea Murray, REACH director.
The program works like this: The LBR team collects donated bikes and stores them at a workshop in downtown Lebanon, where they are repaired and readied for a new rider. The LBR group has collected about 100 bikes so far and the REACH team is working with local schools on a plan to distribute them. The team hopes to attend assemblies and use their bilingual staff to communicate with students and parents about enrolling in the program. Enrollment will require a training session that includes helmet fittings, a bike lock and tips on how to maintain a bike and safely ride on the streets.
The group handed out their first fixed-up bike on April 7 to a resident of Lebanon County Christian Ministries, who rises each morning at 3 a.m. to make the 10-mile bicycle trek from Lebanon to Myerstown for his job. The man’s bike broke, Crawford said, so LBR gave him a newly refurbished bike and lock.
“It was amazing,” Crawford said. “The REACH team is proud to participate in the LBR program. We have direct contact with students in the Lebanon School District, especially the Hispanic and Latino youth who need bikes, to give them safety training and helmets and offer an opportunity for transportation and physical activity. This really displays the vision for our REACH project.”
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