Inclusive Cycling: Wheelchair Tandem Cycle Hire
When I was able-bodied I always loved cycling. I went on many critical mass bike rides and always enjoyed places with good cycle paths.
I was confined to a wheelchair for 5 years before I discovered adapted cycles and in particular, the wheelchair tandem. I am unable to ride many of the adapted cycles due to my physical condition. Apart from being mobility impaired, I also have very little upper body strength. The wheelchair tandem bike is fabulous because it enables me to take part in cycling with the help of an assistant who does the pedalling.
Car free paths
It all started on a wheelchair holiday in France. I had found that the greenway cycle path network was a wonderful resource for wheelchair walks in the countryside. Spending time on the cycle paths inspired me to do some research to see if there was any contraption out there that could help me to take part in cycling. Back in the UK after much online research I found that you can hire a wheelchair tandem on the Tarka Trail in Devon.
Wheelchair bikes in Devon
So we went on a camping mini break to Bideford to try out the wheelchair tandem. Bideford Cycle Hire has private access onto the Tarka Trail, even if the access is a little bumpy. The Tarka Trail itself is fully surfaced and fairly flat. My assistant pushed my wheelchair up the slope and onto the trail. He then brought the Duet Wheelchair Tandem. After transferring, my wheelchair went back down to the car. Parking is free if you hire a bike, which costs £17 per day.
We did 16 miles that day, from Bideford to Fremington Quay and back. And then another mile or so towards Torrington and back. There is a café at Fremington Quay and a large picnic area and at Instow there are disabled toilets (RADAR key) at the back of the car park. At Bideford we had tea at a charming café inside a railway carriage.
The Tarka Trail is a great way to get out into nature. We saw birds, sheep, cows, horses and there are lovely views of the estuary, fields and marshlands.
The feeling of gliding along on a bike was very different to the trundle of the wheelchair."
On the way back from our Bideford trip we stopped at Haldon Forest Park and hired another wheelchair tandem bike just for the afternoon. We did the 1.5 mile Discovery Trail through the forest which was an added bonus at the end of the mini break.
Wheelchair bike hire in the UK
Devon was my introduction to wheelchair bike rides. After that I started to research for more places to rent a wheelchair bike in the UK. I wanted to cycle in the countryside, preferably on a car-free path in beautiful surroundings. So I started compiling a list of great places to ride that have wheelchair bike hire nearby. I am still adding to the list, so please contact me if you can recommend an accessible trail. CTC Inclusive Cycling page also has a great directory of places to hire, not just wheelchair tandems but all types of adapted cycles in the UK.
Wheelchair tandem in Sussex
Recently I bought my own wheelchair bike. I was lucky enough to find a second-hand Duet wheelchair tandem for sale in France, which we have now brought back to the UK. So Brighton Wheelchair Bike is now available to the disabled community in Sussex. We are so lucky to have the Brighton & Hove seafront cycle path nearby and the Shoreham Beach to Worthing path not too far away. To enquire about hiring please contact us by email.
If you would like to hear more about accessible travel and wheelchair bike rides, stay tuned to my website where I will be sharing wheelchair travel research from my latest adventures."
Marina from www.wheelchairaccesstravel.com