Wheels for Wellbeing has launched a campaign to raise awareness of one of the biggest barriers to cycling faced by disabled people.
‘My Cycle, My Mobility Aid’, aims to improve awareness of the fact that most cycles are often used as a mobility aid and that disabled cyclists can be penalised for doing so.
The campaign comes after Wheels for Wellbeing research revealed last year that almost half of disabled cyclists who use their cycle as a mobility aid have been asked to dismount and walk or wheel their cycle, even when it might be physically impossible for them to do so.
In some instances, disabled cyclists have even been threatened with fines or Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) when using their cycle in this way.
According to the inclusive cycling charity’s latest annual survey, up to three-quarters of disabled cyclists find cycling easier than walking, with the same proportion using their cycle as a mobility aid – just like a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
However cycles are not legally recognised as a mobility aid, or ‘invalid carriage’ and so are not permitted in many areas.
The new campaign aims to highlight this and seek to shed light on inconsistency in police understanding of the issue.
Amongst other things, disabled cyclists are being encouraged to take part in a social media campaign, using the hashtag #MyCycleMyMobilityAid, and to send in photos and stories as ways of raising the profile of the issue.
Isabelle Clement, Director of Wheels for Wellbeing, said: “Our research continues to show that most disabled cyclists find cycling easier than walking, and use their cycle as a mobility aid.
“However, we are still finding that many Disabled cyclists are being penalised for this.
“This is discriminatory and discourages Disabled people from cycling, leading them to instead rely on mobility scooters or cars to get around – neither of which will help the Government meet its aims on climate change or physical inactivity.
“We are therefore calling on the Government to make changes to legislation so that cycles are recognised as a mobility aid, and put on a par with mobility scooters.
“Our new campaign will help raise public awareness of an issue whose importance is set to increase as we search for solutions to the physical inactivity and climate crises”
Roger Geffen, Cycling UK policy director, added: “It’s a common misconception that disabled people don’t cycle.
“The reality is that people with all sorts of disabilities can and do cycle, often finding it easier than walking.
“Cycling offers them independence and health benefits that they would not get from using a mobility scooter.
“Yet they often face being penalised for this choice. Changing the law to treat cycles as mobility aids would end this injustice, enabling them to use shopping malls, pedestrianised areas and public transport without fear of unjust harassment simply for wanting to get around under their own steam.”