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Adaptive cycling volunteer program kicks off Sunday

 Cyclists ride on the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail
Individual Abilities in Motion
Cyclists ride on the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail.

Inside the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority’s offices in Scranton is a fleet of adaptive cycles.

To make those cycles more accessible to the community, local nonprofit Individual Abilities in Motion is hosting a kick off on Sunday for their Bike Buddy program.

"The goal of the Bike Buddy program is to provide volunteers that will be able to go out with individuals, get them more familiar with the bikes on how to get on and off the bikes, how to operate the bikes, and then actually go on, accompany them on a ride down the trail," said Joe Salva, founder and president of Individual Abilities in Motion (IAM). The nonprofit, celebrating its 10th year, supports individuals with various mobility impairments.

IAM hosts rides and other events throughout the year, but they want to help people get out on the trail on their own. The Bike Buddy program is designed to help minimize potential barriers to adaptive recreational cycling for those with mobility impairments, according to the organization.

Participants in the program will receive scheduled, individualized sessions with their buddy who will guide them through using an adaptive cycle and navigating the trail independently.

“If someone's not comfortable or able to do it on their own, or they feel like they need a little bit of assistance, that's where the buddy would come in,” said Salva.

The cycles include an Excelerator Handcycle for individuals with lower extremity impairments, like spinal cord injuries; and a recumbent bike, which is good for those with balance issues or who might not be able to ride a standard two-wheel bike.

Among the cycling options is a Fun2Go. IAM received a grant from the Scranton Area Foundation to purchase the side-by-side tandem bike with an electric boost.

Salva said the Fun2Go will benefit a broad range of people including those with visual impairments, Parkinson's Disease or elderly individuals who are not necessarily able to walk the trail.

"This gives them another opportunity to get out and enjoy all the benefits that the trail has to offer," he said.

Ultimately, IAM wants to provide the same opportunities for people with mobility issues as those without, said Salva.

Scott Wilson, a member of IAM, agrees.

“For the same reason, anybody would like to get out on a trail on a bicycle and enjoy the breeze and the scenery and the ... sense of community out there," he said. "Everyone is usually in a good mood and ... saying hello to each other. And the exercise is always a good benefit for being out there.”

IAM will train those interested in volunteering for the Bike Buddy program.

“We'll show them the ins and outs of the different bikes and then they'll be able to ... share that information with someone else who wants to get out and ride the bike," said Salva.

The kick off is Sunday, May 7, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at LHVA Headquarters on Railroad Avenue in Scranton.

Volunteers do not need a certain background. For details on IAM and the Bike Buddy program or to volunteer, contact bikebuddy@individualabilites.org or visit individualabilities.org.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.