People with a disability have been found to be at increased risk of developing serious health conditions – often linked to obesity as a consequence of a more sedentary life. Cycling has the potential to offer significant health benefits to disabled people – improving energy, fitness, and mental wellbeing – in addition to mitigating secondary diseases. These benefits mean that it is important that people with mobility impairments are not excluded from cycling. Disability remains an under-researched area within cycling studies, and in the UK there are low rates of cycling amongst disabled people. There is little funding in this area, and this is despite a fair level of third sector activity to try to help promote access to cycling. This lack of focus is perhaps a consequence of a perception that cycling is not an activity accessible to people with disability. However, this assumption is often not true, particularly considering the availability of adapted cycles – which importantly are much cheaper than adapted cars, and also provide the physical and mental health benefits attributed to cycling.
This paper presents qualitative data from interviews with disabled cycle users, analysed in the context of current cycling guidance from the UK and Europe. The analysis assesses the degree to which current cycling design guidance represents and addresses the needs of people with a disability, and furthermore the implications of this for encouraging greater levels of cycling amongst disabled people. Specifications for cycle infrastructure are increasingly taking adapted cycles into account, however with limited academic research into disabled peoples’ experiences of cycling, it is possible that these designs are not taking into account the wider needs and considerations of disabled cyclists – which go beyond simply the more physical attributes of cycle infrastructure design.
Clayton, W., & Parkin, J. (2016, May). Addressing the needs of disabled cyclists. Paper presented at Cycle City Active City – Leicester conference