There is a program that assists those recovering from substance abuse that incorporate bicycling. As a bike club we know what fun it is to ride a bicycle, and now there is a program that uses the power of bicycling to assist those recovering from substance use disorders (SUD). At the February Evanston Bike Club (EBC) meeting we learned about Pedal4Life, an organization that uses bicycles as a component of the recovery process with great success.
Ira David Levy, producer of the Pedal America TV series on PBS, video producer, and educator, founded Pedal4Life, www.pedal4life.org, in 2016. He was inspired to create the non-profit when he attended a Project Hero ride during the Interbike bicycle industry show. He learned there are 21.2 million people affected by substance abuse, including 1.6 million veterans. The problem is increasing: in 2015 there were 692 confirmed overdose deaths in Illinois, and this increased to 1826 deaths in 2016. Drug treatment centers have capacity to treat only 20% of those who need help.
Pedal4Life’s Pathway2Home bicycle program provides free bicycles, safety gear, biking instruction, and pays for the first year dues to a local bicycle club. The program is a 2017 EBC grant recipient. Over 6 weeks participants hear presentations from program participants, veterans, physicians, bicycle club leaders, and a bike shop owner. Each week there are 10 mile group rides led by League Cycling Instructors (LCIs). They learn about rules of the road, how to ride safely in a group, hand signals, how to fix a flat tire, hydration, and post ride nutrition. Besides the fundamentals of bicycling for recreation and transportation participants report they learned life lessons: listening, benefits of being part of a group, acceptance of others, focusing attention, looking out for others, planning skills, verbal communications, and healthy behavior.
Due to the success of the program plans are in the works to expand it to other drug treatment centers, address winter biking challenges, secure space in a tech hub, and offer services to assist with employment. This year’s HeroInMe ride will be Sunday, June 13, 2018 in Naperville to raise funds and support those in recovery. Pedal4Life is proof positive of the power of bicycling to positively impact people’s lives.