A Plan for Disability Cycling

The Get Britain Cycling inquiry wrapped up yesterday – rather caught me out because I’d gotten used to the sessions being midweek! Anyway, let’s get back to that question raised a few weeks ago…


I think it was put by Sarah Wollaston MP and following through the letterbox of twitter I don’t recall anybody addressing the disabled aspect of it. With the benefit of some time to reflect on it, this is what I would have said given the opportunity…

How to get people with disabilities cycling – a four point plan

1   Make it Accessible

2   Make it Affordable

3   Make it Possible

4   Make it Legal

Making it Accessible

1.1 People with disabilities need the opportunity to see what is possible and discover what they are capable of. Inclusive cycling centres provide that opportunity but currently there simply aren’t enough of them.

1.2 Make every local authority responsible for providing access to an inclusive cycling project.

1.3 Channel funding to inclusive cycling projects. Volunteers run the sessions but funding for training, a co-ordinator, a venue and cycles is required.

1.4 Have GPs prescribe cycling at inclusive cycling centres.

1.5 Expertise to train volunteers is available from organisations such as Cycling Projects and CTC.

1.6 The london charity Wheels for Wellbeing is an excellent example of an inclusive cycling project.

Making it Affordable

2.1 Cycles used by people with disabilities are generally more expensive. For example: electric cycles; hub gears are a more expensive option but often a necessity for a disabled person needing to change gear while stationary.

2.2 Currently a cycle has to be specifically designed or adapted for a disabled person for it to qualify as exclusive of VAT. Make cycles used as mobility aids by the disabled exclusive of VAT.

Making it Possible

3.1 Create an inclusive cycle network.

3.2 Review Bikeability asking the question: is it reasonable to expect a disabled person to cycle in a level 2/3 environment? Determine what is reasonable and design an inclusive cycle network to suit.

3.3 Apply the Equality Act to DfT documents such as LTN 2/08 Cycle Infrastructure Design.

3.4 For example LTN 2/08 advocates designing dual networks which exclude the disabled from the direct, primary network and only considers catering for them on a more restrictive, ‘long way round’, secondary network.

3.5 Remove barriers that restrict access to traffic free cycle paths.

3.6 In the meantime make local authorities and national organisations indicate on their mapping products which routes are accessible and which routes aren’t.

3.7 Recognise handcycles as mobility aids that need to be catered for on public transport.

Making it Legal

4.1 Disabled people are often exposed to discrimination against cycling which puts them at a great disadvantage compared to using a mobility scooter. The legal position of cycles used as mobility aids needs to be made clear.

4.1 Wheeled mobility aids are covered in the “The Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations 1988“. Are cycles covered by this legislation? Where do ‘mechanically propelled’ wheelchairs with handcycle attachments, tricycles, and even two wheelers used by people who have great difficulty walking, fit into this legislation?

4.2 Recognise cycles as mobility aids when used by disabled people and allow them to be used as such on pavements and in shopping streets where cycling is banned.

Or in a nutshell, Go Dutch!

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