Rain. The month of April. “Not such a great time for bikers,” thought Raymond as he hauled his rusty iron to the side of the road. Raymond sighed as his body shivered from habit. It wasn’t that he was new to this, but just tired. He was a steady employee and had only this bike as transportation to and from his workplace.
The ride was only 8 miles, he told himself, but the journey each way always took around two hours. He was used to spending more time pulling over to make repairs than actually riding, but today the roads were busy. After getting the chain to sit back on its sprocket properly, Raymond wiped his now oily hands on a soggy tissue he carried in his pocket for this sole purpose.
Sighing, he swung his leg over the rickety bike, and began riding again, hoping as he always did, that the bike would hold on for a little farther than it normally did. Ten minutes later, his hope faded as he hit a pothole and the bike chain fell away. He looked up to recognize the front of the sandwich shop that he stopped to repair his bike in front of every morning.
The Lebanon Bicycle Recycle (LBR) heard about Raymond from one of our community partners. After giving him a bike fully repaired by their volunteer mechanics, Raymond is now able to ride his 8 mile commute in just thirty minutes.
A drastic difference compared to the two-hour commute one way as he was doing previously due to constant breakdowns. This is the goal of LBR; to provide our community members with access to bikes as well as safety education in order to promote cycling in our city. Many community members in Lebanon are at high risk for obesity, as they struggle with physical inactivity.
Lebanon’s residents also lack access to transportation (United Way, 2017). The racial and ethnic background of the community in the City of Lebanon is also a factor for obesity as about half of the city identifies as Hispanic.
According to the 2021 Penn State Community Needs Assessment in Lebanon, the obesity rate is rising as are the health conditions which obesity causes, like diabetes and heart disease. These health conditions are rising specifically in the Hispanic and Latino population in Lebanon. The report found that 22 percent of respondents who were Hispanic/Latino had diabetes compared to 16 percent of respondents who were not Hispanic/Latino.
This is consistent with a nationwide poll where 1 in 5 Latinos noted diabetes being the biggest health issue in their families. It’s reported that a Latino child born today has a 50 percent chance of developing diabetes in their lifetime due to risk factors like obesity and physical inactivity (LULAC, 2022).
Lebanon Bicycle Recycle is the program which promotes physical activity in order to decrease one’s risk for obesity. It also serves as an educational platform as it teaches community members mechanic training, how to make simple repairs like fixing a chain, how to safely ride a bike, how to pick and wear a helmet that fits, as well as use signals while riding in the city, as Lebanon has specific rules for riding on the streets in the city.
When a community member comes into the bike shop, they can drop off an old, broken or outgrown bike and select one that fits them. If a community member doesn’t have a bike and is in need of one, they can drop by and pick one up along with a helmet and a bike chain. The only thing asked in exchange is the community member’s time, as they volunteer
two hours to LBR to learn about fixing their bike and how to ride safely, they are allowed to take their bike and accessories home. Not only is LBR getting children to ride earlier in life by intervening at the elementary school level, but having this program in the city also increases the amount that a child will continue to ride later in life. A major factor for stopping biking is due to outgrowing a bike, or not being able to repair one that breaks or buy another one. LBR solves all of these problems.
The Lebanon Bicycle Recycle gives all educational booklets in Spanish as well as English. LBR has Spanish speaking volunteers at their open hours on Monday nights at the shop, as well as at all events they attend, such as bicycle giveaways at neighboring schools or other events in the community.
This diminishes a barrier where Spanish-speaking parents who need help finding a bicycle for themselves, or children can approach LBR knowing they will be able to understand all parts of the process as well as be just as educated on safe cycling as their children are. If you’re interested in donating a bike, learning how to repair bikes, or how to earn a free bicycle, come visit us in our shop every Monday night on Chestnut Street 6-8pm or find us at a nearby event!
This article was written by Penn State REACH’s intern, Taylor Keckler. She has spent this summer working with the Lebanon Bicycle Recycle and is currently studying for her master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Penn State College of Medicine.
Latino Health Disparities. LULAC. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://lulac.org/programs/health/health_disparities/
Lebanon, PA. Data USA. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2022, from https://datausa.io/profile/geo/lebanon-pa/
Lusk, A. C., Anastasio, A., Shaffer, N., Wu, J., & Li, Y. (2017, January 20). Biking practices and preferences in a lower income, primarily minority neighborhood: Learning what residents want. Preventive Medicine Reports. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335517300062#bb0130