How do we build an inclusive culture for disabled cyclists? | The Guardian

Headlines are quick hits from media outlets from Missouri and around the world. Follow the headline link for the full story. The source of this headline says:

Last week, my charity Wheels for Wellbeing published the results of a national survey of disabled cyclists which is, to our knowledge, the first of its kind. The results largely confirmed our suspicions, including that disabled cyclists – though part of our cycling culture – remain excluded from it in a number of ways.

In particular, the results are an endorsement of our flagship campaign seeking recognition for cycles as a mobility aid. In most people’s minds, a mobility aid is a wheelchair, a mobility scooter or a guide dog – but our survey confirms that many people also use bicycles.

In fact, the majority of disabled cyclists (69% of our survey group) find cycling easier than walking and many use their cycle as a mobility aid. Cycling reduces strain on the joints, aids balance and alleviates breathing difficulties – but cycles are not legally recognised in the same way as wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

As a result of this legislative oversight, disabled cyclists regularly encounter difficulties. For instance, our survey revealed that one in three disabled cyclists have been asked to dismount and walk their cycle, even though they were using it as a mobility aid. . . .

Phil, who is 60 and originally from Preston, says: “I use my bike as a sort of rolling walking stick when I walk and I can cycle very long distances without pain. I therefore class my bike as a mobility aid. However, it is very difficult to have this recognised in certain situations – for example in parks or other large outdoor venues. All they see is a bike. It would be so easy to modify a ‘no bikes’ rule to say ‘unless used as a mobility aid’.”

Though the mobility aid concept is clearly an important issue, disabled cyclists said inaccessible cycling infrastructure was the biggest difficulty they face. This is usually down to narrow cycle lanes, bollards and anti-motorcycle barriers that restrict or deny access to non-standard cycles such as handcycles, tricycles and tandems.

MoBikeFed comment: Around 15-20% of the population has a disability at any given time--and 100% will deal with some form of disability that affects mobility at some time during the life span.

So thinking about how to make our communities more accessible to people with disabilities is important to everyone. You probably have friends or relatives dealing with some form of mobility disability now, and you are more likely than not to face a mobility or other form of disability some time in your future life.

Bicycles and adapted bicycles and tricycles are a form of mobility enhancement that can provide better mobility to many people with disabilities.

In addition, bicycling can give many people with disabilities access to the outdoors and increased physical fitness--with all the benefits those bring.

But in Missouri, we have even more barriers to access for bicycling by people with disabilities than those noted in the linked article.

- Most neighborhoods in Missouri lack even a single sidewalk

- Most communities in Missouri lack any bicycle facilities or trails

So people with disabilities who would like to use bicycling as part of their mobility or fitness solution face the same difficulties as any other cyclist, but also the additional difficulties faced by people with disabilities, as outlined in the article.

Cycle St. Louis, a new group for cyclists with disabilities, is working to address get more people with disabilities cycling in the St. Louis area: