Conscious Party: Bikes For Life

FREEWHEELING: Emily Shock, left, patient health advocate for The Free Clinics, poses with a bike recipient from the nonprofit's Bikes For Life program. A collection for new and gently used bicycles will be held Sept. 22 in The Free Clinics parking lot.
FREEWHEELING: Emily Shock, left, patient health advocate for The Free Clinics, poses with a bike recipient from the nonprofit's Bikes For Life program. A collection for new and gently used bicycles will be held Sept. 22 in The Free Clinics parking lot. Photo courtesy of The Free Clinics

WHAT: A bike collection for needy Henderson and Polk County residents

WHEN: Friday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

WHERE: The Free Clinics, 841 Case St., Hendersonville.

WHY: In its ongoing mission to ensure the accessibility of quality health care for uninsured, low-income clients in Henderson and Polk counties, The Free Clinics focuses on addressing the social determinants of health (e.g. adequate food, housing and transportation). Responding to the limited access to public transport that some of its clients have, the nonprofit founded the Bikes for Life program in 2016 to connect patients with the resources they need.

The first Bicycle Take-Back day was held in November, the first round of clients received their bikes in February, and throughout the spring and summer an additional 30 bikes have been given to neighbors in need. To help bolster those numbers, a bike collection will be held Friday, Sept. 22, in The Free Clinics’s parking lot in Hendersonville.

Once the bikes are received, volunteers and community partners help repair and safety check every one before it’s given away with a lock and helmet.

“Some repairs are simple — a slipped chain, a little oil, a new tire tube — while others are more involved. Our repairmen have replaced broken derailleurs, which move the bike chain from gear to gear, replaced brake cable and shifters, and road-tested each bike to make sure it is safe,” says Emily Shock, patient health advocate for The Free Clinics.

“We have received so many good-quality bicycles that our repairs have mostly been easy and cost-effective. The few bikes we’ve had that require more expensive repairs are on hold, waiting in storage until we have the funds to fix them up.”

Shock adds that Bikes for Life has been helpful for many local residents, especially those who are homeless and cannot afford bus fare. Without a bike, they have no way to get to medical appointments, the grocery store or sites that serve community meals. With such access to transportation, these residents are able to take some control over their health and wellbeing.

“One of my favorite success stories involves a patient who used her bicycle to get around for job interviews,” Shock says. “She found employment and decided that the first thing she wanted to do was get a car. With her new income, she was able to pay for the tags, title and insurance on a family vehicle, and she is presently working on getting her license renewed. When she gets everything squared away, she plans to donate her bicycle back to Bikes for Life for the next client to use.”

For those unable to make the bike collection event, donations of new and gently used bicycles are accepted year-round. They may be dropped off at The Free Clinics during regular business hours or by contacting Shock at 697-8422. Pick up may also be arranged and all donated bikes are tax-deductible.

The Bikes For Life bike collection takes place 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22, in the parking lot at The Free Clinics. thefreeclinics.org

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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