Disabled people cycle too you know!
It came as news to me that some people with disabilities find cycling easier than walking. They say it takes less effort and puts less strain on painful joints. Jenny Gristock wrote in the British Medical Journal describing her experience and there are many others like her.
But there is a problem when disabled cyclists come across a ‘Cyclists Dismount’ sign or a kerb or gate or even a cycle rack that isn’t wide enough. People sometimes cannot simply get off and walk.
Many use ordinary bikes but there are lots of especially adapted cycles. The Tim Lamb Centre in North Tyneside have some examples and very kindly let us borrow them. Adapted cycles tend to be longer, wider and lower so smooth, flat, wide paths are best.
A recumbent tricycle and a wheelchair adapted cycle from The Tim Lamb Centre.
SPACE for Gosforth thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the paths and facilities in Gosforth and Newcastle through the eyes of disabled cyclists and feed the results into the Local Cycling and Walking Investment Plan (LCWIP).
We set out one rainy November day in high spirits to ride some familiar local routes. We looked for obstacles on the way. We checked the new routes and the old. We looked at what it’s like to go to the park, the shops and cafes as well as some main city destinations such as the Universities, the Library and Laing Art Gallery.
And what did we find? We found that cycle routes and facilities that are good for disabled people are exactly those that are good for everyone. Wide, smooth, flat routes free of bollards, gates, kerbs and speed bumps. These are what disabled people need…..and also what children need, and mums and dads, and older people and indeed everybody else.
High quality cycleways suitable for disabled cycling at John Dobson Street and Brandling Terrace.
Nice facilities at the university but there is a kerb and the racks are too close for a wider adapted cycle.
Sometimes the button is just out of reach………….or you have to get off and open a gate.
Lots of cluttered street furniture here. Even the most able would find this an obstacle course!