Parliamentarians get a taste for inclusive cycling

Members of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG), together with local politicians and interest groups, last month attended a special session on inclusive cycling organised by Wheels for Wellbeing.

The one-off session, held at the historic Herne Hill Velodrome in south London, aimed to raise awareness of disabled cycling and the barriers facing disabled cyclists in London and beyond. Members of the APPCG, along with other attendees that included local politician Helen Hayes MP, were given the opportunity to see an inclusive cycling session in action and to meet disabled cyclists, before trying out a range of inclusive and non-standard cycles. Despite the unseasonal wet weather, the group seized the moment and took to the track on an array of non-standard and adapted cycles – which included some of the 200 or so tricycles, handcycles and tandems that make up the charity’s fleet – before breaking for coffee, cake and a chance to hear a few words from the charity’s Director.

The occasion was marked by the launch of the charity’s policy mini manifesto, Beyond the Bicycle, which highlights the barriers facing disabled cyclists in London. A lack of fully inclusive infrastructure, the cost of non-standard cycles and inadequate facilities (such as parking for larger and wider cycles) were named as just some of the physical and financial barriers preventing more disabled people from taking up cycling, as was the fact that cycles are not legally recognised as a mobility aid, unlike wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

In her speech, Isabelle Clement, Director of Wheels for Wellbeing, said: “TfL figures show us that 15% of disabled Londoners cycle regularly or occasionally, which compares to 18% for non-disabled Londoners. This is not a big gap. We know that there are many disabled people out there who cycle, and many more who could do so given the right opportunities”.

On the financial barriers facing disabled cyclists, Baroness Barker, a Lib Dem peer and officer for the APPCG, commented: “I welcome Wheels for Wellbeing’s manifesto commitment to improve disabled cyclists’ access to hire and loan schemes, such as Cycle to Work, which unfairly excludes many disabled cyclists due to the high cost of non-standard cycles, which often exceed the scheme’s £1,000 loan limit”.

Helen Hayes MP, who represents the local constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood, added her support for the charity’s work: “Wheels for Wellbeing is a great local organisation, and I was pleased to be able to support them in hosting the APPG for cycling yesterday. I am happy to support their mini-manifesto, which calls for wider access to non-standard cycles, improvements to cycling infrastructure and a change in attitudes towards disabled cyclists.”

The four-page manifesto, which puts forward the case for an inclusive cycling policy, outlines a trio of key policy ‘asks’ from government of: better infrastructure, better facilities, and better recognition. The charity hope that the event will increase awareness of the fact that disabled people can cycle, as well as provide a launchpad for much-needed policy discussion on the area.

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