Safely Biking Around Painesville

Going places

In summer 2016, Lifeline launched its alternative transportation program, the Bike Safety Program. This program, which was developed out of a need demonstrated in the 2015 Needs Assessment, was to help low-income residents secure alternative transportation methods, namely, a bicycle, which could help them get to medical and counseling appointments, jobs and school while also improving their overall health & wellness. The program is held in partnership with the Painesville City Parks & Recreation Department and LakeTran, our local public transit authority. By partnering with LakeTran we’re able to expand transportation options for community members by combining their bikes and bus options.

For our first year, Lifeline offered bike safety classes several times over the course of the summer. Each participant who successfully completed the classes received a bicycle, bike helmet and bike lock, at a relatively low investment of $150/participant. Our hope was that each participant would be more independent and self-sufficient as a result of having an alternative method of transportation.

The new Bike Safety Program has at least one client on the move. Sheila Miller, a low-income, community mental health consumer, attended Lifeline’s first Bike Safety Program series and has a new bike that is getter her places.

Referred by her employment specialist, Shelia attended a bike safety class where she learned some simple tips to keep her safe while using her bike.

“I really understand now why helmets are so important. I like the one I got,” states Shelia.

Shelia and other class participants also learned practical skills such as how to check tire pressure, adjust handles and seat height, and complete a quick safety check before using the bike each time. They also learned traffic regulations and laws so that they can ride safely. During the hour long class, LakeTran also brought a bus and program participants were able to get hands-on practice placing the bikes on and off the bus rack. This was an essential part of the curriculum because participants often use route buses that operate on busy streets.

Sheila is now able to get to work, appointments and personal errands independently.

“I always make sure I use my bike lock,” Shelia shares, “because I don’t want my mode of transportation stolen.” Sheila explains that the process was easy and worth her time. She strongly recommends others to participate in the Bike Safety Program. She wants the community to know how important the program is and hopes that future funding can keep the program successful.