Santa cycling on a cargocycle holding his sack with the cargocycle full of boxes. In the background a health and safety elf checks their clipboard from behind a pile of presents. 
The background is cartoony with over sized snowflakes and a christmas tree, the tree has the Wheels for Wellbeing orange and blue wheels logo at it's pinnacle.

In light of recent reports about  the importance of active travel for  physical and mental wellbeing (and an Occupational Elf and Safety Review highlighting the dangers of combining relatively sedentary work with a high-calorie mince pie diet), Santa has decided to adopt an alternative mode of transport for his Christmas deliveries. This year, all stocking-fillers will be delivered by cargo cycle rather than reindeer powered sleigh. We therefore advise that prospective gift recipients:

  • Ensure that any segregated Santa ways (chimneys etc) are a minimum of 1500mm wide, with a 3400mm turning circle at exits/entrances (e.g. fireplaces). They should be checked to ensure that they are free of leaves, debris, or other obstacles.
  • Provide drop kerbs and ramps in lieu of steps or stairs. If it is not possible to install a useable ramp and/or accessible lift, it is particularly important that secure, accessible parking is provided.
  • Provide non-standard cycle parking, if necessary, with clearance to allow a cycle to approach/leave the parking bay without reversing. The parking bay should be a minimum of 2500mm wide, to allow for dismounting and easy retrieval of gifts from the cargo box.

We took advantage of our correspondence with Santa to request a few special gifts for the different Disabled cyclists in our lives …

Gifts for Disabled cyclists

Cycling Gloves

Cycling gloves help cushion vibrations and relieve some of the pressure on the hands. They can be particularly useful for handcyclists, where movement combines with pressure. For cyclists with reduced grip in one or both hands, get a gripping aid to help.

Cycle Lights

It’s dark more often at this time of year, and cyclists on the road must have a set of lights (red and the back, white at the front). Even in urban areas with streetlights, cycle lights are important to make sure that other road users see you – for cyclists in recumbent cycles or handcycles, where they are lower in the sight-line, this is particularly important.

Hi-vis vest

Hi-Vis vests help cyclist be seen during the day as well as at night. Some Disabled cyclist have customised theirs to make sure that any other road users give them the space they need.

Scratch-free, seam-free, sensory-friendly cycling clothing

Some cycle or leisure clothing can have seams, labels, or textures that rub and scratch. It’s annoying from a lot of people, but for some people the feeling of cloth rubbing against the skin makes the clothes unwearable. There isn’t (yet) a cycle clothing brand that addresses this, but more generic ‘sensory friendly’ or ‘adaptive clothing’ is available. Some people manage by wearing a skin-tight, wicking base layer, while others opt for loose-fitting leisure wear.

Blue badge

You can get a Blue Badge for your car, if you’re eligible, to allow you to park in Disabled parking bays. Why not a Blue Badge for your cycle, to help you to cycle responsibly in a pedestrianised area without being told to dismount or getting scornful looks from other pedestrians? Unfortunately, there aren’t (yet) any blue badges specifically for cyclists, but you can get generic blue wheelchair stickers – or get creative and print your own on sticky-back plastic.

Accessible parking

Most cycle parking assumes that cyclists will be non-Disabled riders of bikes. If you don’t ride a bike, and/or find it difficult to lift or manoeuvre your cycle, chances are that it will be much harder for you to park your cycle. We’d love to get some more accessible cycle parking for non-standard cycles, so that more Disabled cyclists can cycle as a means of transport. One of our trustees, Kevin, designed a stand for non-standard cycles – and earlier this year a prototype was installed at Queen Margaret’s University!

An extremely good lock

Accessible cycle parking is important, but you need a good lock for it to be fully secure. Non-standard cycles are much more expensive than a standard bike, and much harder to replace, so an extremely good lock is even more important. Different locks have different ratings: choose one which is ‘Gold’ rated. Anecdotally, a lock with a key is more secure than a combination lock, and a D-lock is more secure than a coil or flexi lock (the most secure option is one of each). Add a key turner or gripper if you find the key fiddly.

Change in legislation

We know that many Disabled people use cycles as their mobility aid. Many government ministers and people in the Department for Transport know that many Disabled people use cycles as their mobility aid. Designers and planners are becoming more aware of this too. But they’re still not legally recognised as mobility aids, and therefore Disabled people who use them as mobility aids don’t get the same rights of access and recognition as people who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters. We’d love to see the law catch up with the lived reality for Disabled people: cycles, as well as wheelchairs and mobility scooters, are used as mobility aids and should be treated as such.

Accessible infrastructure as standard

LTN 1/20 was a big step in terms of the design of cycle infrastructure: the minimum requirements set out in the guidelines are accessible to cyclists on all types of cycle. However, having accessible infrastructure written into design guides and having accessible cycle infrastructure in practice aren’t the same thing. We’d love to see new, fully accessible infrastructure being installed where infrastructure is currently lacking, and for any existing inaccessible infrastructure to be retrofitted to make it accessible

Subsidies for non-standard cycles

As mentioned earlier, non-standard cycles are expensive – far too expensive to be readily affordable. This is exacerbated by the higher cost of living and typically lower incomes of Disabled people. If cycling is to become accessible for the majority of the population, then we need a subsidy scheme targeted directly at Disabled people who wish to start cycling but cannot afford an appropriate cycle.

In short, all we want for Christmas is to have the choice of participating in active travel on the same basis as everyone else.

We hope you all have a safe and happy Christmas, and plenty of cycling in the New Year!

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