What are Bike Options for Disabled Cyclists?
When people think of cyclists, they don’t often consider that biking could be for men and women with disabilities. Biking can be one of the best ways for individuals for recreational activities or for commuting.
Sustrans conducted a study that revealed that 33% of people with disabilities would like to bike because it’s actually much easier than walking for about 75% of disabled bikers. This means that a bike could be considered a mobility aid for many individuals with disabilities. More often than not, biking offers a way for individuals with disabilities to pursue a new level of independence, and according to research by Transport for London, 12% of disabled people are more likely to be cycling regularly.
“Literally, nobody was actually informing or educating the cycling world to the fact that disabled people do cycle and that disabled people encounter a lot of barriers to cycling.” Isabelle Clement, director of Wheels for Wellbeing said. “If those barriers were removed, which they can be, then many, many more disabled people could cycle, and experience the same benefits as everybody else.”
Biking is perfect for recreation, exercise, or commuting. And thanks to their versatile design, bicycles can be modified in a number of ways to serve many different types of riders with disabilities.
A Bike for Every Person
For every type of body and level of ability, there is a bike option. A number of adaptive cycling organizations such as Move United and Wheels for Wellbeing highlight the options, here are some examples of modified bike solutions for a number of different disabilities.
For individuals who may have lower limb mobility impairments, a handcycle can be powered by bikers with their arms. These handcycles are most often three-wheeled.
A two-seater bike allows two people to ride it at the same time, permitting one person to guide the bike while both pedal. This can be a great option for an individual with vision loss.
Four-Wheeled Dual Recumbents
A cycle made for a more relaxed biking experience, four-wheeled dual recumbents require the use of legs but offer up a more relaxed seated position for bikers.
A tandem tricycle with side-by-side seating allows two riders to cycle at the same speed or at different rates.
Bikes with three wheels and set lower to the ground for a lower center of balance can be great for individuals who struggle to balance on a standard bicycle.
Tadpole Foot Style Recumbent
To improve balance even more, a recumbent bike can be styled as a tadpole with one wheel in the back and two wheels in the front.
Delta Foot Style
A recognized tricycle setup is the delta style of a recumbent cycle, which has the two wheels in the back and one in the front.
This recumbent cycle sits higher, making transfers easier for a rider with limited mobility. This cycle is pedaled by hand.
Biking should be for everyone, and with a few modifications, it can be. As cycling communities look to become more inclusive, the question is how to do it. Often, people only look at individuals with disabilities and only see limitations rather than their abilities. City infrastructure and street design have not taken bikers with disabilities into consideration. Changes are needed.
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