HARRISBURG — Before beginning her inaugural kids’ bike ride, Mayor Wanda Williams had a startling admission.

“This is the first time I’ve been on a bike in 50 years!” she exclaimed.

The news was surprising to even her closest advisors. Mayor Williams announced plans weeks ago to have a bicycle ride through Riverfont Park on Saturday, May 13 with Harrisburg kids as a way to promote National Bike Month. Bicycling promotes good health, physical activity, and alternative modes of transportation. As it would turn out, the event served as a dual purpose to teach the mayor how to ride a bike once again, as well.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are or how young you are,” Mayor Williams said. “I wanted to learn how to ride a bike again. It’s been 50 years. So, it’s an opportunity to come out and ride a bike and enjoy the day.”

Around a dozen people came out to the mayor’s inaugural bike ride, from children to members of the Harrisburg Bicycle Club. Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg, one of the city’s premiere bicycle repair shops and non-profits, provided Mayor Williams with a training bicycle, and Ross Willard, its Chief Mechanical Operator, taught the mayor how to ride a bike once again.

“She remembered when you ride a bike, you never truly forget those feelings of the freedom [when you ride a bike],” Willard said of the mayor. “I’ve taught people of all ages to ride bikes with no pedals. It’s like you’re slaloming down a ski hill, you wish the trail curved a little bit so I could give it some fun. We all become kids again on a bicycle.”

Recycle Bicycle provides free repairs to bicycles, under the caveat that you repair your own bike. Recycle Bicycle volunteers teach everyone the proper mechanics and techniques in how to fix a bike. The shop also provides bicycles to anyone who needs a bicycle, at no cost.

The shop is always looking for donations, and more information can be found at https://rbhburg.org/.

Ross Willard, Chief Mechanical Operator at Recycle Bicycle, puts air in a tire for Mayor Wanda Williams at the mayor’s inaugural bike ride on Saturday, May 13, 2023.

The bicycle ride started at the Walnut Street Bridge in Riverfront Park, and followed the trail to Kunkle Plaza at State Street before turning around and coming home. The initial plan was to ride down to the Harvey Taylor Bridge, but wet conditions forced the early turnaround.

Mayor Williams said after she hopes to host another bicycle ride through the city sometime again soon.

“We encourage everyone to use [bicycle] transportation in the city instead of using their cars,” she said. “I want to see the community start riding their bikes more. Whenever you want to come out and ride a bike, or learn how to ride a bike, I’ll come out with you. I’m learning how to ride a bike again, too!”