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In recent years Cycling has become more popular and the variety of options for the mainstream rider have grown exponentially. However, and in particular light of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, there has been a huge drive to ensure that this accessible sport and leisure activity of biking is also totally inclusive for people with all disabilities. There are a growing number of charities and products which are opening up Cycling For All. If you thought you couldn't do this because of your condition or financial situation then think again! Look up some of the following organisations and get out there...!
WHAT ARE YOUR ALL ABILITY CYCLING OPTIONS:
There is an incredible range and variety of equipment available and more - it seems - being developed and launched all the time. They cater for different abilities, from visual impairments to independent mobility to companion cycles. Here is a short guide to what you could use to get you out and cycling - but it is not definitive. Seek professional advice from a specialist charity or company on what may work best for you before committing your money. There are many people with experience who are passionate about cycling for all and really want to help!
These items can be expensive, but don't let that put you off. There is funding availble for these all ability bikes from various different sources. Rob Henshaw, Managing Director at cycling specialist Quest 88, can share advice on where to go for funding.
With 3 wheels, these are more stable than bicycles. They can have have 2 wheels at the back or the front and may have specialist seating and strapping depending on the level of the ability / mobility of the rider. Quality trikes will have differential gearing ensuring both wheels are powered at once, offering better handling and control.
These have seats rather than a saddle offering a more relaxed, and often more stable, position. This affects how you ride, and a read of various reviews will show that it can be huge fun.
Tandems come in many forms to suit the many varying needs of the two riders: from regular tandems for two able bodied riders to tandems with one special needs seat and one able bodied seat to handcranks for the limbless, uprights and recumbents and a combination of the two, and tandems which take a wheelchair on board for total inclusivity.
More to follow...:
Side by Side Bikes
Wheelchair Friendly Cycles
Electric Pedal Assist
Roam is a Dutch company which seem to offer a refreshingly EXTENSIVE array of products for all ability cycling to meet a wide variety of needs - including a baby attachment for a wheelchair! They have dealers in the UK and looking at the choice of handcycles and adaptive biking products, they look very can-do.
Quest 88 go by the tag line "All Ability Cycling" and when you see their unbelievable and extensive range of bicycles, tricycles, companion cycles, recumbents, running bikes, handbikes & go-carts it's clear they mean what they say! Their website is pretty comprehensive and "whether you are a parent, a healthcare professional or someone heading up an inclusive cycling project, there is plenty of useful information..." The bikes they sell are specialist bikes, made to cater for different people with differing and particular needs.
TI Trikes (US only) who say they "build the world’s finest tricycles and bring the sport of cycling to a broader audience. Unlike some brands of tricycles that are built purely for raw speed, each Ti-Trike model is designed with three core objectives in mind: Comfort, Safety, and Exercise. By maintaining a laser-like focus on these goals, Ti-Trikes is bringing an important new message to the sport and the community at large:“Everybody Rides!”."
London Recumbents bill themselves as having "the largest range of special needs bikes in England." You can test rides most of their trikes and bikes in Dulwich Park, though you'll need to phone in advance to book an appointment.
Charlotte's Tandems lend tandems to (and only to) people with disabilities or special needs for free, who are unable to ride a bike safely on their own, so that they can enjoy the wonders of cycling. (Their tandems are not for paid hire or available to non disabled people, for charity rides, no matter how worthy the cause.) Their borrowers are both children and adults. Tandems are a fun and safe way to get out and about as friends, a couple, family or group. They are available for hire for a couple of a months at a time.
Ashfield Special Needs say they are a "husband and wife team with over three decades of special needs cycling experience and a 'can do' attitude." They are based in Cambridgeshire.
Da Vinci Mobility have a tandem wheelchair and cycle which "allow a more sevely disabled person to still be involved in family activities. The wheelchair splits frm the cycle and can be used as a wheelchair. This also aids transportation or the unit in larger vehicles."
Mountain Trike is an ingenenious and well designed cross country wheelchair which uses a clever and intuitive level propulsion and steering system to allow the user to enjoy getting out and about. Tim is a friendly and knowledgeable guy who is only too happy to help. Contact them for a trial and see what fun you can have in a Mountain Trike.
Mission Cycles have developed a range of Tricycles with the assistance of parents who have children and teenagers with various balance problems and disabilities. Visit their website to find out more.
Wheels For Wellbeing is a London based charity which runs sessions, including 1-2-1 and fun rides, at Brockwell Park in Lambeth. They have more than 30 three- and four- wheelers, plus some two-wheelers, including the Veloplus - a tricycle with a platform designed to carry a wheelchair at the front.
Cycling Projects operates a network of over 50 accessible cycling centres across the UK. Each centre has a range of programmes and schedules suitable for beginners and regular participants. See their website for more details.
Companion Cycling run sessions in Bushey Park, close to Hampton Court. They have equipment ranging from side-by-side pedal cyles to a Duet - or "Wheelchair Rickshaw" as they describe it. Book a session in advance and opt to ride with a trained volunteer if required, helpful for those who don't already have a companion.
Gateway Wheelers organise rides every Sunday in the Northeast of England. They have a wide range of adaptive cycles.
Cardiff Pedal Power is a big accessible cycling centre operating out of two centres, one in the City Centre and one in Cardiff Bay. They have an extensive range of different cycles for hire, from standard bikes and tandems and specially designed tricycles for all abilities and ages. This enables virtually anybody to enjoy cycling.
Bridge Bike Hire, on the Camel Trail in Cornwall has recently extended its range of adaptive bikes available and they offer a pick up and collection service too. They can also supply details of accessible cycle paths and bike trails in the area.
You Can Bike Too - an all ability cycling opportunity near Cambridge. Check out our 20+ adaptive bikes and regular sessions at Milton Country Park.
Empowered People say that their quest is:
Other Information - which maybe useful to someone which I'll add as I see it:
Swing cranks: http://www.highpath.net/highpath/cycles/swingcrank.html - this is here because I had an unusual call one day by someone who was unable to bend one knee very easily and she'd heard there was a solution which enabled her to bike. But didn't know what it was! Some investigation later and I was pointed to this page. It enables your leg to contribute as much effort as it can without being lifted so high.
I'm leaving it here because it's part of my research into All Ability Cycling. At some point it will find it's own space on the page in a relevant section. Until then.... (it's all knowledge...)