Tuesday 20 June 2017 07.00 BST
Last week, my charity Wheels for Wellbeing published the results of a national survey of disabled cyclists which is, to our knowledge, the first of its kind. The results largely confirmed our suspicions, including that disabled cyclists – though part of our cycling culture – remain excluded from it in a number of ways.
In particular, the results are an endorsement of our flagship campaign seeking recognition for cycles as a mobility aid. In most people’s minds, a mobility aid is a wheelchair, a mobility scooter or a guide dog – but our survey confirms that many people also use bicycles.
In fact, the majority of disabled cyclists (69% of our survey group) find cycling easier than walking and many use their cycle as a mobility aid. Cycling reduces strain on the joints, aids balance and alleviates breathing difficulties – but cycles are not legally recognised in the same way as wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
As a result of this legislative oversight, disabled cyclists regularly encounter difficulties. For instance, our survey revealed that one in three disabled cyclists have been asked to dismount and walk their cycle, even though they were using it as a mobility aid. Typically, such situations occur on footways or in pedestrianised areas, such as train concourses, where mobility scooters are readily permitted but cycles and cycling are not.