For a person with a physical disability, mobility is valued more than most as it can provide an escape from an often sedentary lifestyle. Cycling provides a great outlet for disabled people because it offers just that.
Cycling has the ability to offer speed as well as greater distance of independent movement for the disabled. While a wheelchair does give a disabled person freedom of movement, cycling provides fun, physical benefits, independence, which in turn feeds into good mental well being for a disabled participant.
It can be difficult for people to find out about the wide range of solutions on offer for people with disability to get out and cycle, but there are organisations out there that cater for the disabled and cycling.
Leicester charity Cyclemagic is at the forefront of promoting cycling across people with disabilities nationally. They have a wide-ranging fleet of specialist machines for groups and individuals to use on a regular basis. The charity is run on an entirely voluntary basis and it raises all the funds for it through commercial work.
The specialist machines, such as tall bikes, penny farthings, tandems, hand cycles, tricycles and circus bikes, are expensive to build, buy and maintain. It currently costs Cyclemagic around £5,000 per year to house and maintain its fleet of machines, some of which cost in excess of £6,000.
To meet the growing demand for specialist disabled cycling services from people across the UK, Cyclemagic regularly runs events to promote disabled cycling and raise funds for the charity. In October this year, the charity is planning a unique bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats on its specialist machines.
Leaving Land’s End on Sunday October 2nd the riders will cover between 50 and 60 miles per day on an extended route that will include visits to Bath, Leicester, York and Newcastle. Disabled and non-disabled participants are welcome to join in any part of the journey. For further information on how to get involved in the ride, please visit Cyclemagic’s blog.
There are also attempts to improve infrastructure to provide specific facilities for people with disabilities.
The We Cycle Too project at Brooklands Pleasure Park, Worthing, has been created to allow children with disabilities to experience cycling. The project consists of a 450-metre specialist track and can accommodate wheelchair-adapted bicycles, tandems and hand cycles.
Wheels for All, which is run by the Cycling Projects organisation, has advised Crawley Council on its recently opened an all inclusive BMX cycling track in Langley Green. The track, four lanes plus a four metre wide beginner track, has been designed specifically with disabled children in mind.
If you want further information on disabled cycling there are a number of national and local groups to contact.
Wheels for all – Nationally recognised programme that embraces all children and adults with disabilities and differing needs (01925 234213)
London Cycling Campaign – Publishes an All Abilities Guide (sponsored by the Wizzbike Foundation), offering advice on how people with disabilities and special needs can get into cycling (020 7234 9310)
Cyclemagic – Provides training on special needs & disabled cycling and also hires and sell bikes, trikes, tandems and trailers. It can build or adapt specialist machines to individual requirements (0116 262 5551)
Crank It Up – Voluntary organisation providing cycling for people of all abilities (07835 840989)
British Cycling and paracyclists - Information on how to get involved on the sport side of disabled cycling
Wheels for Well Being – London-based organisation providing cycling for the disabled (020 7346 8482)