| Old Bike Gloves Find New Homes
By Fran Taylor, Member Walk San Francisco Jul 14, 2009
Bicycle gloves serve their owners well, helping them climb the City’s steep hills, dodge buses and taxis, and endure the daily slog to work. The padded gloves with cut-off fingers are not a frill or fashion statement for the serious cyclist. Besides protecting the hands, they may also help prevent lateral epicondylitis, or “tennis elbow,” by cushioning the repeated whacks a cyclist takes going over San Francisco’s bumps, tracks, and potholes.
When their stubby fingers begin to fray or their owners get a new pair, old gloves need not head for landfill. They can now embark on a second career at the opposite end of the mobility spectrum, thanks to a new project.
Carla McVey, an occupational therapist at Mabini Adult Day Health Center, located on an alley off Folsom near the Moscone Center, and Iris Biblowitz, a nurse at the center, came up with the idea of collecting bike gloves for seniors and patients at city-affiliated centers and clinics. The padding in the gloves helps users of walkers, wheelchairs, and canes. The half-fingers allow wearers to button buttons and use eating utensils.
Seniors and patients coping with hand pain from mobility difficulties or recovering from injury or surgery have found the gloves invaluable. Walkers using parallel bars to build up leg strength find that the gloves soften their hands’ impact with the bars.
This spring, the Mabini center worked with CC Puede and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to conduct a glove drive. The SFBC sent out a plea in its weekly e-mail bulletin, and gloves poured in from as far away as Chicago and New York City, some with effusive notes about how happy the donors were that their gloves had found a new use.
“Many of the bicyclists who donated their old gloves confessed that the gloves had been sitting in a drawer or box for a long time,” said Kate McCarthy, membership and volunteer director for the bike coalition. “They didn’t want to throw the gloves away but didn’t know what to do with them until we asked. They were happy the gloves were finding a good home.”
Cyclists also dropped gloves off at a bicycle service station held outside St. Luke’s Hospital at Cesar Chavez and Valencia. The initial effort collected about 40 pair, mostly in good shape.
Dan Sherman of CC Puede works at Genentech in the legal department and participates in the company cycling group. He put out the call on the Bicycle Club mailing list and collected several pair. The personal experience of one member put a face on the effort.
“I was stuck on a walker for a few weeks when I broke my pelvis, and my bicycle gloves totally saved my hands,” said Lise Dumont of the Genentech Bicycle Club. “This is a very worthy cause. Also, my handle bar bag fit very nicely on my walker top bar, so I could carry stuff around with me even though my hands were tied up.”
McVey hopes to expand the program, perhaps by enlisting donations from bike shops around the City. Almost everyone who participated in this spring’s glove drive has commented on the heartwarming yet practical joy of finding this new use for an old friend.
At press time, the future of Mabini and all adult day health centers in California was clouded, as Governor Schwarzenegger has called for elimination of all Medi-Cal payments for adult day health.
Fran Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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