Text Size:

Current Size: 100%

How cycling helps disabled people

Isabelle Clement's picture
By: Isabelle Clement

My charity, Wheels for Wellbeing, which supports disabled people of all ages and abilities to enjoy cycling, is 10 years old, and to celebrate we are holding our first ever national conference.

My name is Isabelle Clement. I'm the Director of Wheels for Wellbeing. If you have an interest in how to improve disabled people’s chances to be as physically active as they would like to be, I hope you can attend and/or tell others about our Beyond the Bicycle Conference on Tuesday 7 November 2017 in London.

The harsh reality for us disabled people is that we tend to live shorter lives than non-disabled people, and inactivity is one of our worst enemies. Conversely, exercise is the magical pill doctors can’t prescribe but would love us to be taking. A recent Public Health England update, Everybody Active, Every Day: Two years on: An update on the national physical activity framework, states that not enough is being done to promote cycling and walking for everyone, let alone for disabled people.  

From personal experience and from having talked to hundreds of Wheels for Wellbeing participants, I know that cycling can radically transform our lives and our health because it’s non-weight bearing, low impact and can be done in vastly different ways (on two, three or four wheels, in tandem, with or without electric assistance etc). But improvements are needed if all of us are to be able to access the huge benefits of active travel in general, and cycling in particular:

  • More promotion of inclusive cycling opportunities locally
  • More understanding of cycling’s benefits
  • Greater recognition of cycles as mobility aids
  • Inclusive cycling infrastructure accessible to all

Equalities legislation requires public bodies to consider the needs of disabled cyclists. Our conference will provide a crucial update on how to meet this requirement, offering practical strategies for removing barriers to cycling by all and increasing the numbers of disabled people who cycle.

More cities are becoming more cycle-friendly, and at Wheels for Wellbeing we want to demonstrate how to best use resources to create an inclusive and accessible environment.

At our Beyond the Bicycle Conference, there’ll be representatives from: Disability Rights UK, the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, Transport for London, the Department for Transport, Public Health England, the Royal College of GPs, Sustrans, and the London Cycling Campaign. Disabled cyclists themselves will participate and share their experience with professionals, as speakers and as attendees.

There’ll be an update from the Department for Transport on their Accessibility Action Plan and the implications for cycling. You've still  time to comment on proposals to improve the travel experience for disabled people; comments close at 11:45pm on 15 November 2017.

Who should attend Beyond the Bicycle?

We’re targeting stakeholders who can join in our mission to develop inclusive cycling through better recognition, better equipment and better infrastructure: local authorities, transport professionals, disabled people’s organisations, cycling organisations, physical activity leads, cycling officers, disability teams,  learning disability teams, mental health teams, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, GPs, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), highway engineers, transport planners, town planners, architects, access consultants, developers, cycle manufacturers and anyone with an interest.

Register for Beyond the Bicycle here

  • If you are a disabled person on benefits and would struggle to finance your own place, please email: conference@wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk
  • If you can’t make our conference but would like to hear more about our work, join Wheels for Wellbeing – we’d love to have you aboard! We'll also be tweeting throughout the conference as @wfwnews

And finally, in you’re still not convinced that cycling is possible for everyone, view our video: Beyond the Bicycle Anthem

If readers have any experiences, please use the comments below - I'd love to hear from you!