Medical Residents from the El Rio Community Health Center, participated in the first Docs on Bikes event in August. Martha Monroy (wearing UA red), from the Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, secured the funding for this program which focuses on promoting healthy lifestyles in Southwest Tucson.
A group of family practice residents from the El Rio Community Health Center in Southwest Tucson were spotted riding around Southwest Tucson on a Saturday morning in August conducting a “handlebar” survey to identify community assets and barriers to adopting healthy lifestyles in the neighborhood.
“When we talk about barriers to health, we’re talking about things like the availability and accessibility of healthful food options, places to exercise and the condition of the streets and sidewalks,” said Martha Monroy, program director for the Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
The doctors peddled their way through the neighborhood armed with a checklist of issues to review to help them better understand the barriers that exist that make it difficult to live an active lifestyle and follow a healthful diet, in addition to other stressors in the community.
“Riding a bike provides a different perspective of a neighborhood that you won’t get from driving around in a car. We wanted the doctors to see for themselves what it’s like to ride bikes in underserved neighborhoods,” said Monroy. “The residents will be using what they learned to better serve and counsel their patients and to see how they can influence positive community change.”
“Ultimately, the idea is to think in terms of how assets and challenges can be incorporated into the community projects that are part of their residency requirements. It is also a way to become familiar with the Pima County resources that exist to encourage and help folks use bikes for transportation, recreation, health and stress management,” added Monroy.
Funding for Docs on Bikes was provided through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program.
Monroy collaborated with many partners to roll out Docs on Bikes including the El Rio Community Health Center; Perimeter Cycling, which provided the bikes; the Pima County Department of Transportation; the UA Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; the UA College of Public Health; and the UA Department of Mexican American Studies. The residents are from the A.T. Still University program in Mesa, Ariz.
This isn’t the first time Monroy has started a community program that involves cycling. Using REACH funds, she was instrumental in opening the Children’s Bike Club at the Roy Drachman Clubhouse on Tucson’s South Side this year.
Monroy says she is working to secure additional funding to continue the Docs on Bikes program.