One of our members, Jamie, tells us about cycling as a disabled person and an upcoming event in York:
I’ve been an everyday cyclist in York – simply because it’s the fastest and most convenient way of getting around – since I arrived here nearly 15 years ago.
But sometime since, I’m not quite sure when, I became a disabled cyclist. I have multiple sclerosis and I’ve seen my activity range decline rapidly in that time; climbing, golf, cricket all quickly slipped by the wayside, walking challenges have gone from winter hiking in Scotland to just getting across the room to the toilet with a pair of sticks. I assumed cycling would simply be one to add to that list.
But some five years ago a chance suggestion led to me to try cycling with the charity Empowered People. As other things have slipped away, my cycling outlook has expanded. I’ve done multi day rides – I’ve done the Coast to Coast, I’ve done overseas trips with the family and I’ve done day trips to London meetings. My cycle has become my primary mobility aid and my independence, my way of getting out, exercising, commuting, and meeting people. The cycle has changed with me, even if my range has slowly reduced.
As my cycle has changed, I’ve become more and more aware of barriers: some literal, some financial, some social. I have become a bit of an activist on the former, campaigning to remove needless physical barriers prevented people with disabilities from moving around independently on safe cycle routes. I hope a new financial support scheme for e-bikes will help others make the steps I have done, and the increasing awareness of non-standard bikes is making their use less of a novelty. And most of all I have found connecting with others with disabilities a source of support and practical guidance.
On 17th October Empowered People are holding a ride in and around York. We will be doing a ride in a figure of eight – in total about 40km – with lunch in the middle. People will be able to do either, or both, of the loops so you can choose an urban ride of around 12km (with an option to shorten to 8km) in the afternoon, a country ride of around 28km in the morning or do both together. It will be a chance to meet other disability cyclists, supporters and even have a go on an adapted cycle. Above all, this will be a celebration of disability cycling; we’d love people to come to support or challenge themselves and give some or all of it a go.