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Inclusive Cycling for Those with Disabilities

Posted by Kaitlin Benz on

Inclusive Cycling for Those with Disabilities

Kaitlin Benz

 

    A rarely touched on topic in the world of cycling is how to incorporate people with disabilities into the sport. Cycling has become one of the most popular forms of leisure recreation, because of the varying health benefits it reaps. Cycling improves cardiovascular health, improves muscle tone, and leads to higher energy levels in many people. Cycling is an incredible sport for the disabled community to take part in as it’s an easily learned method of transportation that gives everybody way to remain independent, even in the face of physical or mental disabilities. However, not everybody has the ability to hop on a standard-frame bicycle. Adaptive cycling provides plenty of options to accommodate everybody, from ages one to one hundred!

    The tricycle is a great option for those who may not have the ability to balance themselves on a bike, and are also too big to incorporate training wheels onto a bike. The tricycle has one front wheel and two rear wheels, which makes balancing a breeze and provides a sense of safety and independence for the rider.

    The hand cycle does exactly what it sounds like; it is powered by arms alone! They are the most common adaptive cycling bicycles. This is a great option for those with disabilities that inhibit the use of the legs, do not have the muscle tone in their legs to keep up with constant pedaling, or those who are missing one of both legs. These have all of the capabilities of a traditional bike; the components are just placed in areas to accommodate an arms-only rider. Recumbent bicycles are similar to the hand cycles, with the primary difference being that the seat is lower and more ergonomically shaped, to reduce pressure on the back and knees and hips for the rider.

    Wheelchair Transit Bicycles are made so that you never even have to leave the chair to still feel the wind in your hair of a nice bike ride. There is someone pedaling behind on a traditional style bicycle frame, while the rider in the wheelchair is fastened to the front of the bike to get a front row seat of the ride.

    As well as the adaptive bikes available for riders, most standard bikes can be adapted for much cheaper to accommodate each person’s specific disability. For example, a front and rear brake can be both attached to the same handlebar brake pull in order to make the ride easier for somebody who does not have use of one side or has an amputation. Bike technicians all over the country are able to work with cyclists to build accommodations.

    Denver has a successful program called Adaptive Adventures that provides inclusive gear and coaching for many outdoor sports, cycling being one of the most popular. They have classes, coaching, and meet ups for adaptive cyclists who have found safe haven in the cycling community. If you are interested in meeting up with fellow cyclists in the area or receiving some of the best coaching in the state for adaptive cycling, they can be found at adaptiveadventures.org. Cycling is for everybody and great strides are being made to incorporate every rider on the road.

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