The Gearing Up program is designed to meet the physical, emotional and social needs of women involved, while teaching the practical skills necessary to integrate biking into their lifestyle. To remain in the program, women must meet expectations including remaining drug and alcohol free, consistent attendance, following rules of the road, and maintaining respect for program rules. Gearing Up staff and volunteers provide positive reinforcement for progressive change exhibited by women in the program. Following up on the commitment to ride at a scheduled time, persisting to make it up a hill, or getting back on the bike after a hard ride are some of the lessons learned while riding a bike with Gearing Up. These lessons can be transferred into skills used to become self-sufficient by sustaining sobriety, maintaining job responsibilities and creating a healthy and safe community.
The Program: Gearing Up begins with open enrollment rides that serve as opportunities for women to go for a bike ride while learning about the program rules and expectations. If a woman chooses to stay with the program she can enroll after accumulating 10 miles and completing a bicycle safety clinic. Two-three weekly group rides begin with a short loop around the block, gradually becoming longer as the women build fitness and comfort on the bicycle. As women track their miles and meet milestones, they receive incentives such as water bottles, shirts, bike shorts, and a gift card. Group rides are led by a Gearing Up team leader and community cyclists and volunteers. Women who have successfully pedaled 100 miles have the opportunity to earn their own bicycle by also meeting additional program requirements such as learning to fix a flat tire and perform a safety check on a bicycle. The end goal of the program is for women to transition to the next phase of their recovery and re-entry as independent individuals and bicycle owners. Graduation includes the presentation of a refurbished bicycle to a woman at community meeting, as well as a bicycle lock, flat changing kit, bag for bike commuting, helmet and a lesson on how to use a SEPTA bus bicycle rack, a life skill to promote bicycling as a means of transportation and self-sufficiency.