Adapted Cycling Succeeds in Metro Vancouver Schools

Through our Bike to School cycling safety programs we have instructed thousands of students on how to bike safely, and helped hundreds of new riders balance, pedal, and steer for the first time. However for some riders hopping on a bike has always posed an extra challenge; students with physical and cognitive disabilities may face additional barriers to participation, but with the help of specialized equipment and support they too can achieve success. Read on to learn about two adapted cyclists, Jared and Liam. Our adapted bikes also offer new riders a supportive option to try out cycling for the first time, which is how we met Andreas.

As you may have read in May, with generous support from the Goodlife Kids Foundation we were able to enhance our Adapted Cycling program in 2017. Our goal was to make sure that all students in classrooms we visited had an opportunity to experience the joy of riding a bike! In our 2017 season we reached 36 students as part of the program, and we were fortunate to hear many heartwarming stories from students and their families about the impacts of joining their peers on bikes during our sessions. We wanted to share a few of these stories with you.

Jared was among the first students to ride our new recumbent trikes in Maple Ridge. His school was participating in our Ride the Road program. Jared is an active kid, he is a member of the Canucks Autism Network and joins in on as many other sports as he can, however riding a bike has always been a challenge that left Jared feeling frustrated and unsuccessful. While using an adapted bike and practicing cycling safety skills like signalling and shoulder checking Jared’s overall experience was one of inclusion, as he enjoyed riding with his classmates and he gained confidence from participating in the program. Six months after the program we asked his mother the big question - does Jared still cycle? She says that when the weather is dry, “he cycles as much as he can”.

Speaking of rain, we met Liam at one of our rainiest programs this fall in New Westminster, where he was participating in our Ride the Road program. In his mother’s words, “Liam is an amazing kid, he has endless courage, a strength that far surpasses his age or size, and a personality that lifts anyone out of the blues and into laughter as soon as he walks into a room, and though life has not been easy for him, he never gives up”. She says that he has tried every sport possible, including sword fighting, gymnastics, trampoline, and even axe-throwing!

During the program he rode a recumbent trike called the ‘Mobo Triton’. This bike offers increased security for its riders, reducing the pressure to stay balanced and allowing riders to focus on pedalling and using the hand levers to steer and brake. His mother shared with us that after the first session on the bike “he came home rejuvenated and uplifted by the experience”. His family is now looking into purchasing an adapted bike for him. According to his mother: “adaptations do not come cheap, but it will be worth it to see my little boy smile like he did during those wet and wild days on his bike”.

And finally, Andreas participated in our Learn2Ride program at his Elementary School in Vancouver. Students in this program spend one session learning about helmet fit and the ABC’s of bike safety, and during the second session they practice their on-bike skills at a bike rodeo on the school grounds. Andreas has a fear of heights, and was always envious of other kids riding bikes, as this fear prevented him from trying. His mother told us that getting to ride a recumbent trike “gave him confidence and security that a regular bike cannot, but gives him the feeling that other kids can achieve”. She also says that he talks about the bike and his experience all the time at home.

We’re gearing up for another year of bike education in Metro Vancouver schools starting in April. If you would like to support our Adapted Bikes program, consider becoming a member, or donating. Photo: Liam rides an adapted bike during the Ride the Road program.