Claire Stoscheck and Silvia Perez with bike and trailer (Photos by Erin Collins)
"I received a bike last year and it was beautiful," Mariana (who preferred we just use her first name) recalled. "I didn't know how to ride before. But I was able to take my son to school. It also helped me lose seven pounds, and save time. Instead of walking somewhere in 45 minutes, I could ride my bike there in 15 minutes."
Mariana was one of 17 women from the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization’s Mujeres en Accion y Poder who signed up to participate in the 2013 Community Partners Bike Library (CPBL) program, a free loaner bike program of Cycles for Change in St. Paul. During the June 4 orientation session at Powderhorn Park Recreation Building in Minneapolis, she got training and coaching on cycling safety and on proper techniques for locking a bike, fitting a helmet, and loading a bike onto a bus rack. Marianne Baum of CPBL explained that participants may take Learn to Ride, Basic Mechanics, and Riding in Traffic classes, as well as participating in group rides.
CPBL plans to partner with 19 community organizations to lend 275 bikes and 20-30 trailers this year. Partners include Project for Pride in Living, CLUES, Goodwill Easter Seals, and the Karen Organization of Minnesota.
Leadership programs are also a part of the project. Interested participants will have the opportunity to learn how to teach biking skills to other members of their communities.