Pedaling Toward Partnerships

Brenda Landis

Brenda Landis, multimedia specialist in Dickinson's Media Center, participated in the Northside Ride with daughter Rosie.

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Safe transportation is a major concern for residents of Carlisle’s Northside neighborhood. Without access to vehicles or reliable public transport, some report that they can’t take advantage of needed social services, like YWCA programs and the Project SHARE food bank. Bicycles can sustainably and affordably bridge that gap, so when the Northside Carlisle Learning and Action Network (NCLAN) launched last fall, bringing members of the Dickinson community together with local leaders to address issues facing Northsiders, safe cycling was on the table. Within three months, NCLAN introduced the Northside Ride.

Presented by Dickinson in partnership with four local nonprofits, the April 14 event drew approximately 100 Northside residents, ages 3 to 75. All had access to a free pre-ride tuneup and bike maintenance lesson, courtesy of student volunteers from Dickinson’s Handlebar bike repair shop and community partners.

The 3.3-mile group ride began at Hope Station and included stops at the Carlisle YWCA, Project SHARE and New Life Community Church. At each location, Northsiders sharpened bike skills and knowledge—such as how to travel safely with traffic, properly lock bikes, use hand signals and brake effectively—by answering questions and completing fun, simple tasks, like dodging obstacles, participating in a slow race and navigating traffic cones. Each success was rewarded with a passport stamp.

At the end of the event, riders displayed their filled passports and were rewarded with a free bicycle light set.

The event drew 35 volunteers, including five Dickinson staff members and 15 students. Together, they delivered bike tuneups and safety checks to 43 community members, fitted and distributed 54 helmets and handed out 35 locks, 45 light sets and 20 youth bikes. And while participants connected with neighbors, became more skillful riders and gained the equipment and knowledge that allowed them to follow Pennsylvania bicycling rules and regulations, they also became familiar with a designated bicycle route and with the community organizations along it, just a short ride from home.

The event was sponsored by Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education (CSE), along with Cole’s Bicycles, Hope Station, New Life Community Church, Project SHARE, Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg, the Raven’s Claw honor society, Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates Architects and YWCA Carlisle. Of the roughly $2,000 raised, nearly $800 came from Raven’s Claw fundraisers. Event organizers donated surplus equipment to LifeCycle, a program of Carlisle’s New Life Community Church, for distribution to those in need.

“This event demonstrated to me that, at Dickinson, we are blessed with so many resources—including people and knowledge—and we have the ability to make a real impact,” said Brenda Landis, a multimedia specialist at Dickinson and Carlisle Borough Council member who lives in Northside. And, she noted, the benefits reverberate long after the finish line was crossed.

Also important, added Lindsey Lyons, CSE assistant director, was the partnership among Dickinson, nonprofit leaders and Northsiders. “This event addressed specific needs identified by the community members it served,” she explained. “It’s been exciting to see so many people bring ideas to the table.”

Read more from the fall 2018 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published October 23, 2018