What difference does using your cycle as a mobility aid make to your life?

Cycling has revolutionised my life, for the better! It has changed my outlook positively, from one where I was facing a future of reduced mobility and increased isolation, to hope. I now have increased mobility, inclusion, mental and physical fitness.

I’ll never forget the moment when I tried out a bicycle for the first time in years at a cycle charity helping disabled cyclists called Cycle Magic, and realised that despite balance and mobility issues, I could still ride a bike safely. Bliss.

What challenges, if any, have you encountered when using your cycle as a mobility aid?

Where to start?! I love cycling in Leicester, but unfortunately, despite investment, there are large gaps in our cycle lane layouts. From tuts and loud comments from the public when I ride my bike over a pedestrian only bridge, to the dreaded “cyclists dismount” signs which litter the city, I’m often made to feel like I don’t deserve to be there, or I’m somehow spoiling it for pedestrians. It’s frustrating, as if I was on an electric mobility aid I’d at least be tolerated, but as a disabled cyclist I’m a nuisance and even illegal.

To protect myself, I have fitted blue badge signs to my two bicycles, so I can at least explain to people why I’m cycling or not dismounting! The thoughtlessness about how signs saying things like “cyclists dismount” impact disabled people starts at the very top, though, with cycle lanes running out, or ending in dismount signs or the needs of disabled cyclists overlooked. For example, when I attend Leicester City Council meetings at City Hall by car, there is a disabled space right outside the entrance. If I cycle, however, I am forced to attach my bike to a bin outside the entrance, as the nearest cycle bays are too far away. I’m working on that one, so hope that will be rectified soon! Cycling is such a great way for disabled people to get around, keep fit, and see friends. It’s a real shame that it’s not actively encouraged more.

Below: a ‘cyclists dismount’ sign on the traffic-free walkway into Leicester city centre

If there was one thing that could change to help you to use your cycle as a mobility aid, what would it be? National recognition of cycles as mobility aids!

Find out more about My Cycle, My Mobility Aid

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