Wheels for Wellbeing is delighted to announce that we have received support from Sport England’s ‘Open Call for Innovative Solutions’ to develop and pilot an inclusive cycle hire scheme for London, with east London partner Bikeworks

During the pandemic, non-Disabled people have been encouraged to get their cycles out, but this has not been an option for most Disabled people. The London-wide demand from Disabled people for hiring non-standard cycles (trikes, handbikes etc.) is not currently met, and this has been exacerbated as Covid-19 restricts access to inclusive cycling hub sessions.

The use of public transport continues to be a concern to Disabled people and people with long term conditions – they need safe ways to travel, and cycling is one option. Roads, however, have become safer as a result of temporary improvements to cycling infrastructure and reduced motor traffic flows. Changes to new permanent cycling infrastructure will support the use of adaptive cycles as a result of the Government’s Gear Change and latest highways guidance LTN 1/20, influenced by our Guide to Inclusive Cycling. Demand for inclusive cycle hire is also inflated by the very high costs of non-standard cycles, making private ownership currently unaffordable for most. This barrier to cycling is evidenced by our latest research.

 Director of Wheels for Wellbeing, Isabelle Clement, says:  

“This funding gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that if we can overcome one of the main barriers to cycling for Disabled people – the cost of a cycle – more will be able to enjoy cycling.”

Lyndsay with the handcycle loaned from Wheels for Wellbeing (Copyright – Wheels for Wellbeing)

Lyndsay hired a cycle from Wheels for Wellbeing during the first lockdown. As a Disabled person with cerebral palsy, she uses her wheelchair full time and really enjoys the physical health & mental wellbeing benefits that cycling can bring. Lyndsay reports: 

“After cycling, my arms feel that they’ve had a very good workout, and I have been able to benefit from the fresh air with my 5-year-old son George and my husband, who cycle on their bikes alongside me.”

This inclusive cycle hire scheme pilot aims to bring the joy and many other benefits of cycling to more Disabled people in an accessible, affordable, sustainable way. 

Jim Blakemore, Director of Bikeworks, says: 

“This project is so exciting, and we are all looking forward to rolling it out. The needs for a growing community of cyclists [who] currently struggle to find the correct cycle for them and or require adaptations in order to ride and control cycles is top of our priority list. Bikeworks and Wheels for Wellbeing are perfectly placed to move this service and agenda forward across London and we hope our findings will lead to scale and integration with other large cycle hire schemes.“

Sport England’s Allison Savich, the Strategic Lead on Data & Market Innovation, affirms: 

“We are excited to be supporting Wheels for Wellbeing, who are using innovation to address the inequalities in sport and physical activity that are being heightened by the pandemic. As part of our Open Call for Innovative Solutions, they are one of a cohort of solutions that are challenging the current way of doing things and putting their audiences needs at the heart of their design.”

The funding is just for 6 months but as Isabelle adds:

“Assuming the pilot is a success, we hope to secure further funding, maybe through a corporate sponsor, to continue the scheme and integrate it into the Transport for London’s Santander Cycles hire scheme, levelling up cycling options with non-Disabled people.” 

You can see Wheels for Wellbeing’s inclusive cycle hire scheme project featured on Sport England’s Innovation Open Call webpage (at the bottom on slide 3)!

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