Teaching kids with disabilities to bicycle

Bicycle.net has a fascinating article by Dave Shields about a program that helps kids with disabilities learn to balance and ride a bicycle:
I put my hand on his shoulder. “You rode forty-one miles?”

Jacob’s face lit up. He smiled from ear to ear and nodded his head with unrestrained enthusiasm. In a wonderful conversation I’ll never forget Matt explained to me how hard he’d worked to teach Jacob to ride a bike, and how disappointed they’d both been when the first family outing abruptly ended in a crash. Matt told me how discouraging Jacob’s subsequent fear had been. He’d dreamed for so long of riding with his son, but now hope seemed to be lost.

One day, while home sick from work, Matt was reading Bicycling Magazine. He learned about a unique program that was successfully teaching children with a variety of mental and physical challenges to ride bicycles. The system was a brainchild of master engineer and tinkerer Dr. Richard E. Klein. He’d become fascinated with the dynamics of bicycle riding while teaching at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and had continued working on related issues after his retirement.

Among the things Dr. Klein discovered was that training wheels actually teach children bad habits. Instead of initiating recovery by leaning and turning in the direction a bicycle is tipping, a child with training wheels recovers by throwing their weight and turning their handlebars in the opposite direction. For children whose confidence is already challenged by brain issues, this results in an almost invincible barrier when transitioning away from training wheels. Dr. Klein’s solution included approximately twenty innovative steps on the road to cycling competence.