What difference does using your cycle as a mobility aid make to your life?
Cycling is my main form of transport. It means I can go exactly where I want, when I want, on my own terms and using my own body. Public transport is never reliable if you are a wheelchair-user, and even though trains and buses in Liverpool are technically wheelchair accessible, very few pavements or stations are. Therefore, being able to transport myself around the city in an environmentally sustainable way is essential to me.
What challenges, if any, have you encountered when using your cycle as a mobility aid?
Cycle lanes are few and far between in Liverpool, and those that do exist are poor quality and often filled with potholes and broken glass – which are much harder to avoid on three wheels rather than two. There is a long cycle path along the river from Otterspool to the city centre, but this has steps in it at one point making it totally inaccessible. The poor road quality in Liverpool has actually damaged the battery plate on my handcycle and I now have it held in place with gaffer tape. There are very few accessible and safe places to lock up a handcycle, which means that if I go into the city at night I will drive rather than risk leaving it somewhere. I sometimes get disablist abuse from other road-users, including bus and taxi drivers, as well as car drivers.
I travel on the train fairly regularly with my handcycle, and while mostly train and assistance staff are fine with this, I have also been challenged on a few occasions. But if able bodied people can bring their cycles on the train I don’t see why I as a disabled person cannot, especially when I have booked it in advance – I think this is an equalities issue which needs to be addressed.
If there was one thing that could change to help you to use your cycle as a mobility aid, what would it be?
Better quality cycle infrastructure – cycle lanes, cycle parking; more awareness that disabled people can cycle; and a more consistent (e.g. positive) attitude when travelling with my handcycle.
Find out more about My Cycle, My Mobility Aid