Bicycling program encourages healthier living in Westlawn area

UWM’s College of Nursing organizes a summer program called Get Wheelin’ in Westlawn, which encourages residents of the Westlawn neighborhood to bike as a way to promote a healthier lifestyle and to reduce air pollution.

“Poor outdoor air quality impacts the health  of Westlawn residents,” said Anne Dressel, project director of the Westlawn Partnership for a Healthier Environment and assistant professor in UWM’s College of Nursing.

The Get Wheelin’ program is where Westlawn residents can come to get their bikes tuned up, get flat tires fixed and other minor adjustments made for free. The June event will include a demonstration of how to fix your own flat tire.

“The program has been successful,” Dressel said. “There’s always a long line waiting to tune up their bikes.”

UWM College of Nursing partners in the Westlawn Partnership for a Healthier Environment include the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center and the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, among others. Dream Bikes and UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science Bicycle & Motorcycle Engineering Research Lab have been co-partners for the Get Wheelin’ program.

Westlawn Gardens, the largest public housing project in Wisconsin, lies between N. 60th and N. 68th streets along Silver Spring Drive, a large contributor to poor air quality in the area.

“We can’t move Silver Spring, so we wanted a way for the people of Westlawn to be able to do something to improve outdoor air quality by replacing car trips with trips made by bicycle,” said Dressel.

Westlawn Gardens has been undergoing a complete remodeling, made possible by a grant from the national Department of Housing and Urban Development. The old brick houses of Westlawn are being replaced with townhouses and apartment buildings.

Get Wheelin’ in Westlawn has been an annual summer program since 2012. This summer, the program will be happening on the second Friday of each month — June 14, July 12 and Aug. 9 — from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Westlawn Gardens Playground Pavilion.

The UWM College of Nursing  Silver Spring Community Nursing Center, located in the heart of Westlawn, has served the community for over 30 years, and built a relationship with the Westlawn community that is based on trust and respect.

The new housing in Westlawn has won awards for how energy efficient the houses are and for improving quality of life for low to middle income people. In 2018, Westlawn Gardens won the HUD Secretary’s Opportunity and Empowerment National Planning award.

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