By Jonathan Farrell
To provide adaptive bicycles for free to people with disabilities, the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP) has teamed up with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), Lyft Bay Wheels and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).
BORP held a fundraiser on Sept. 18.
“We had a great turnout,” said Terri Fredlund, who helps coordinate the program along with Leo Siecienski, the program manager.
“This adaptive bike program is essentially a pilot program that was initiated in 2018,” Siecienski said.
BORP has been working to enhance the lives of people with disabilities for more than 40 years.
This pilot program is the first of its kind that BORP has coordinated for Golden Gate Park. It has been running since June and Siecienski hopes it will continue beyond November. But, as he pointed out, “It’s been really difficult getting permission from the various entities.”
Also, with the onset of COVID-19 and its restrictions, the pilot program had more obstacles.
“Lyft is the one who helped fund this pilot program,” Siecienski said. He said he is pleased that SFMTA and others helped. But, coordinating something like this needs extended clear vision as well as planning.
“Lyft is focused on transport and we at BORP are all about recreation for people with disabilities,” he said.
When the bicycle was invented in 1817, its impact was revolutionary in providing mobility.
“For people with disabilities, it’s a big deal to be able to get out and enjoy a day of recreational activities,” Siecienski said. “There are very few recreational outlets and opportunities for people with disabilities, even here in the Bay Area.”
For many, the opportunity to experience Golden Gate Park on a bicycle adapted to accommodate a disability is an exhilarating freedom.
“This program combines adaptive devices – electric scooters, hand-driven bikes, etc.” said Erin Bank, who serves on the Park, Recreation, Open Space Advisory Committee (PROSAC). She emphasized that BORP and others involved “are really trying to get the word out so that people with mobility challenges know about the programs.”
Adaptive equipment provided includes supportive foot and hand pedals, specially designed seats and straps, as well as special hand pedals for quad-level classified (SCI) spinal cord injury riders.
“We are here every weekend on Sundays until the last Sunday of November from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” Fredlund said. “Find us in Golden Gate Park on JFK Drive, west of Kezar Drive.”
Siecienski said he hopes at some point the pilot program will be renewed and turned into an extended contract. He and Fredlund hope the program will be fully implemented and permanently available in Golden Gate Park.
Accessible parking is available at McLaren Lodge, 501 Stanyan St. For more details visit the BORP website at borp.org/bikeshare/, or call BORP headquarters in Berkeley at (510) 848-2930.