Survey reveals more needs to be done for disabled cyclists
A recent national survey carried out by London based charity support group, Wheels for Wellbeing, has found that a large number of disabled cyclists are using their cycles as a mobility aid.
The survey gathered data on the views and experiences of 221 individuals from across the UK, focusing on the frequency of individuals cycling, the reasons for cycling and experiences surrounding this.
Health benefits for disabled cyclists
In addition to the large number of those using cycles as a mobility aid, 69% of individuals surveyed found cycling easier than walking.
Wheels for Wellbeing report that this is often the case for disabled individuals as cycling reduces joint strains, aids balance and alleviates breathing difficulties.
Through this, the charity aims to gain legal recognition for cycles being used as a mobility aid, similar to wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Barriers for disabled cyclists
The need for legal recognition for cycles being used as a mobility aid is highlighted by the survey, with 1 in 3 individuals being asked to dismount their cycle in a pedestrianised area, despite using it as a mobility aid.
Cost of non-standard bikes hindering disabled cyclists
Further need for inclusivity and easier access to cycles is also noted within the survey as one of the main barriers to disabled cyclists is the sheer cost of non-standard cycles.
1 in 10 disabled cyclists were unable to obtain a cycle through the existing Cycle to Work scheme as their non-standard cycle exceeded the limit of £1,000 set out by the scheme. This shows that there is a need to ease the access to non-standard cycles for disabled individuals to allow them to experience the benefits of cycling.
Speed bumps not suited for disabled cyclist
Another barrier which was reported within the survey is inaccessible cycling infrastructure. Individuals reported that they have been unable to cycle due to barriers and speed bumps on cycle paths and roads.
Inadequate facilities for non-standard bikes
Several individuals also faced issues when taking their cycles on public transport. In addition to this, 36% of those surveyed reported being unable to park or store a non-standard cycle due to inadequate facilities.
More support for disabled cyclists needed
The results of the survey, the charity reports, challenge some widely held assumptions about disabled people and cycling. Encouragingly, however, 57% of respondents said that they have received positive comments by people passing by when they were out cycling.
Despite this, there is still a clear need for further research to be carried out in this area highlighted within the report. Campaigning to reduce assumptions about disabled cyclists is still needed as unfortunately 36% had encountered abuse or a disability related hate crime while cycling.
While the charity, which supports disabled people from all impairment groups, is continuously campaigning to challenge assumptions in this area, there is a clear need for this to be widened throughout various services in the UK.
Through such a campaign, it is hoped that access to cycling for disabled individuals can be encouraged and promoted. This would enhance the lives of many disabled individuals can be enhanced through cycling and the many social, physical and practical benefits that it brings.
Written by Laura McManus,
Associate at Digby Brown