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By Denise Kennedy

Editor’s Note: Denise is a Bicycle Coalition follower who has recently taken up cycling for wellness. Here she tells her story of what brought her to cycling. 

When I was a child, I loved to ride my bike!  It made me feel free, and took me around town to the local stores, to the creek to explore nature, and to the ball field to watch my friends play games. Even as a young adult, I rode my bike for exercise. It was an activity that cheered me and got me out in the fresh air. Now I am 60 years old and I am beginning to find a new time and a new reason for bike riding. I don’t consider myself a biker yet, but the power of yet is so enticing.

A few years ago I was involved in a severe multi-car crash resulting in a head injury and spinal injury. I fought back and had excellent rehab, but after over a year and a half, I was advised “This is as good as it will get.” I was constantly in pain, limited in my movement and had improved but I still have multiple health issues, arthritis and I am very overweight. My weight kept increasing because my mobility was so decreased.  

My eldest son Jimmy came to see me several times per week during my recovery. The first day he took me for a walk outside with my walker. One day he announced that he bought me tricycle and that soon he would have it put together and would ride it out to me. It was to be the next step in my recovery.  

I was apprehensive! I was scared! I was really worried I would fall over. Jimmy assured me that the three wheels would help me to maintain my balance. So I started. I live across from a school and there is a flat parking lot where I can ride. I do laps. I still am a little scared when I turn, but every time it is getting easier for me.   

I am definitely getting stronger. My goal is to hopefully be able to start riding my adult tricycle on the streets, but I think I need to build my strength and confidence up a bit more. I am not a biker yet, but I am excited to see what is yet to be.

As an older adult, and a disabled one at that, I recognize the benefit these adult tricycles can have for us. They provide a safe way for us to exercise and get out in the fresh air. They help us to build or regain our confidence and independence. In fact, they can even bring back that feeling of freedom we had as youngsters riding our bikes in the community.  

Hopefully soon I will be improved enough to ride on the street, but honestly I worry about my safety doing that. What would be ideal is if in my community there was an organized way to provide dedicated space for seniors to pursue bike and tricycle riding activities in our community. I think the power of that yet is intriguing, hopeful and needed!

Leonard Bonarek

Author

In 2016, Leonard entered his third career: city planning. Previous to joining Bicycle Coalition, he had 7 years’ experience working in social services, and 10 years’ hard labor in the maritime industry, in addition to several years of intern and volunteer experience with our organization and Neighborhood Bike Works.

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