When you live with an issue every day, think about it most days, write about it once or twice a week, meet others who deal with it every month or so, and every now and then reach the influential with ‘the message’, after all that, it’s all too easy to kid yourself that you’re actually getting somewhere.
But not to worry, eventually the evidence trots up like a big bouncy puppy, so pleased with itself that it’s returned with just what you wanted, only to prove beyond all possible doubt that it forgot all about your ball, having been distracted by the bigger, shinier one thrown by your mates.
Whether it’s TfL and the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London or the CTC’s Cycletopia, the evidence suggests that if and when the able bodied and able minded think about disability cycling they still imagine it taking place in a park or around an athletics track, certainly not on a street or a cycle path.
They’re right of course, that is mostly where it takes place, and the rub is that’s where they’re keeping it – safely confined in their collective mind’s eye out of harm’s way.
So what to do? Throw in the hand crank or keep plodding on through the crowd of indulgent smiles? Well, like a lame Eeyore, it’s onwards, ever onwards..
The four point plan I knocked up in response to the Get Britain Cycling inquiry isn’t going to cut it on its own. As long as the common perception of cycling amongst those tasked with the job to Get Britain Cycling is being reinforced with images like the one above, handcycles and trikes are going to be forgotten about, and with the help of the five inaccessible kissing gates I came across yesterday on the Bourne Valley Greenway, disability cycling will remain confined to inclusive cycling projects.
We need some positive discrimination.
5. Make it Normal
Until we have an inclusive cycle network without all of the physical and mental barriers preventing people from enjoying the benefits of cycles as mobility aids, the disabled need to be included in the plans and expectations of all new schemes.
As an absolute minimum, an image of a handcycle and/or trike needs to be shown in the plans and design access statements for all new cycle infrastructure. Copy and pasted commuters an inclusive cycle network does not make.