The idea for this program began in the spring of 2014 with the approval and initiation of the Pedernales 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. Ghisallo Cycling Initiative received five adult trikes to be able to provide safe outdoor recreation to students with mobility and developmental challenges. These trikes also provide the perfect platform for older individuals who either cannot or do not want to ride a traditional bicycle due to fall risks but would like to receive the same health and mobility benefits cycling provides.
The Conley-Guerrero 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 with limited change in elevation. It is adjacent to the Boggy Creek Greenbelt and Trail, which enables riding through the large park as well as being an urban trail connection to the Rosewood Recreation Center, Downs-Mabson Fields, and, once the Upper Boggy Creek Trail is completed, to the Sustainable Food Center, Creative Action, and the MLK Jr. Transit Station with bicycle storage facilities and both bus and light rail access. The Pedernales Bikeway provides access to Metz Recreation Center, Lady Bird Lake, the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, and an 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 a future-use case where a senior who uses public transportation to arrive at the center can participate in a ride on the Pedernales Protected Bikeway to HEB to buy groceries for a day or two. Upon returning to the center, they can store the groceries in the fridge, and take their bags home on the bus, sparing them a separate trip. All the provided trikes have integrated baskets which make this task an easy one.
More active seniors will 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 Dam 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 adult trikes for participants plus a loaned B-Cycle bicycle for a Conley-Guerrero staff member to ride along with the group of participants and instructors. 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 a riding proficiency check prior to participating in off-site rides. The adult education component will be provided with assistance from 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 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 who helped un-box and build them. Final adjustments, make-ready work, and safety checks were donated 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.
Assuming high demand and a successful program, there are opportunities to expand to new locations as well as to grow the trike fleet to include front-load trikes that can carry two passengers. Programs using the passenger trikes and volunteer riders have been successful in Europe as a way to build community and provide access to the outdoors for mobility-restricted seniors for whom riding a bike or a trike may not be of interest or even an option. A video profiling a senior passenger passenger-style 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
The Conley-Guerrero crew posing with the sweet new trikes:
Chameleon Cold Brew + Boys And Girls Club Earn-A-Bike & Bike Club building trikes:
Boys And Girls Club Earn-A-Bike and Bike Club delivering the trikes:
Austin Bike Share B-Cycle bike for a Conley-Guerrero staff member to be able to ride along: