If you would like to join Wheels for Wellbeing’s Monday ‘Zoom Social Chats’ please email emma@wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk

There is no agenda to our now-regular Monday morning 11am ‘Zoom Social Chats’, just as there’s no telling who’s going to “turn up”, so we couldn’t have predicted that the range of topics this week would include feminism, bike sizes, birthdays, free online education courses, campaigning, and our future!

By far the most important topic was about our future. We are beginning to think about when our cycling sessions will start again and in what format. But, how do you see the future for us, given that social distancing is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future? It’ll definitely be a joint effort to get people cycling with us again, but from conversations we’ve had we know that people are missing their cycling!

How did feminism crop up during the Social Chat? Our special guest, Elly Hargreave, from Pedal People, a small charity in Brighton working mainly with care homes and those with Dementia, was prompted to mention a book* about male design bias. Anyone who regularly attends our sessions will see our Van Raam VeloPlus cycles. They are the cycles which 2 people are required to get a wheelchair onto, and for which us shorter legged people find very uncomfortable to cycle! Our cycling instructor Mel is 5ft, and she asked Elly whether she would be able to comfortably ride one of the Pedal People trishaws (pictured below)….the answer was “just”! And it was at that point the book was mentioned. When Elly set up Pedal People, she wanted to ensure that her volunteers were a 50/50 split of gender! Then she discovered trishaws (they settled on Christiana trishaws) which, much like Van Raam’s VeloPlus, are designed and manufactured in countries where the population tends be taller anyway (Holland and Denmark). We’ve found that actually, these larger cycles aren’t just a problem for women – we have many male support workers and family members who struggle too, as they are shorter in the leg due to their ethnicity!

One other item we discussed that may have come to your attention over the last couple of weeks, and something of which we’re in full support, is #SpaceForDistancing. This Scottish campaign is advocating for roads to close or reduce in width so that there is more space for pedestrians and cyclists to pass each other. Isabelle, our Director, pointed out that as a wheelchair user she can’t just hop on and off pavements to socially distance! Excitingly, the London Borough of Croydon has just announced some temporary schemes – including a handful of quiet residential roads being closed to through traffic, and roads being closed for an hour so that people can exercise in a safe space close to home! These are great ideas, but maybe it doesn’t go far enough….What is happening in your area?

*’Invisible Women; Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men’ – Caroline Criado Perez

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