In the southwestern corner of Evansville’s Downtown YMCA parking lot sit two rows of 4-by-4-foot metal boxes. Much like safes, the 30 cubical containers are thick and locked tightly shut, each holding a tool for a better life. After meeting with marketing director Crystal Paroyan at the YMCA’s front desk, I was given a key and directed to rental locker 12, where I opened the door to find my choice of a men’s Suede 7-speed, one of several types of bicycles stored in the metal boxes. I mounted the gray bike and headed off toward Riverside Drive and the beginning of the Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage, the pedestrian and bike path that meanders around Downtown Evansville from the river to Kleymeyer Park.
September marks the fourth month the Downtown YMCA has offered bike rentals in conjunction with the Welborn Baptist Foundation’s Upgrade program. Though this summer’s 100-degree weather limited outdoor activity, Paroyan hopes the bike rentals will serve as a fun component of healthy living. Already, rentals are used for commutes and errands, as well as YMCA outreach programs. “It’s something we would hope and expect to continue to happen, not only for the community but also for the programs the YMCA offers,” Paroyan says. “The majority is family and individual usage.” Whether on the Greenway or strolling past Evansville’s historic landmarks, her hope is to see the Evansville community taking healthy steps — or, in this case, bike rides — to a better life.
Now that summer’s blazing heat is behind us, count me in for more rides along the Greenway. Add Southern Indiana’s vibrant autumn colors to cool temperatures and it’s tough to think of a healthier, more relaxing way to spend an afternoon. And the Greenway is just one option for riding. The Upgrade Downtown maps are great tools for exploring the city while getting some exercise. Next time, I’ll get creative and take in the sights of historic Evansville. My advice: ride with family or friends; biking should be a social activity.
And the bikes? Comfortable. With an extra-padded seat, my bike took me up and down the Greenway with ease. The YMCA offers men and women’s bikes for any age, including 24- and 20-inch kids’ bikes.
NEED TO KNOW
The Downtown YMCA, 222 N.W. Sixth St., offers numerous rental rates, for a full day of riding, half-day, or even hourly. Rates can be as little as $4 for YMCA members. Information regarding rates and usage can be found at the membership desk just inside the YMCA’s front doors — simply bring a driver’s license and a credit/debit card. Bike lockers also can be rented for those using their own bikes. For more information, call 812-423-9622 or visit www.ymcaswin.org.