Inclusive Cycling

Inclusive Cycling is about letting anyone cycle, whatever their age or physical ability. The best way to explain it is Roger Knight’s story below, in his own words, that I think will move you – not by bike, but still about cycling, as published in the June 2024 edition of the Hayling Herald.

Roger is one of Cycle Hayling’s committee stalwarts, who rides everywhere to keep his health conditions at bay. Over to Roger …

I remember how my parents were always active adventurers—they travelled the world and had all sorts of amazing experiences. My father was a brilliant engineer, and always coming up with ideas – how many people build their own aeroplane?

Then a series of strokes completely shattered his life, akin to dementia. From fit and active, he suddenly became withdrawn, unable to walk, wheelchair bound. His condition made him drowsy, so he wasn’t safe with a mobility scooter. Even car rides would send him to sleep. We thought we’d lost him.

That’s when I tried one of Pompey Pedals’ specially adapted trikes – they have them for almost every ability and disability, and run sessions every weekday. And that completely changed everything. Overnight.  

Riding him around Portsmouth, he stayed alert and began recounting stories from his childhood during wartime. He pointed out areas destroyed by bombs and reminisced about life growing up in wartime Portsmouth. 

Pompey Pedals had to stop during lockdown, so we bought our own specially adapted cargo trike, which carried a passenger in a wheelchair at the front. Being outdoors on the trike kept up his social connections, replacing the clubs he used to attend. He would wave to passers-by and engage in distanced conversations, fostering a warm sense of community.

Witnessing this sudden transformation was absolutely remarkable, strengthening our bond and connecting us with those around us. Even in his final days, he cherished these rides. I really felt like I’d got my old dad back.

Following his passing, my mum’s own mobility declined due to arthritis, and now dementia, so we started to use the trike for her outings all across Portsmouth. We visit cafes, shops, enjoy leisure rides, and run errands together. Accessing the local GP surgery and St Mary’s Hospital is now stress-free compared to the challenges of using a car – the traffic congestion, the parking difficulties. With the trike, we arrive at our destination refreshed.

My mum says “I like being on it, because it feels as if I was actually cycling myself. I actually feel normal and not someone who has a disability. I like the reactions of children when they look at the trike fascinated. And that makes me feel good. People wave at you – I need to learn to wave back like a Queen!”.

I’ve seen firsthand how cycling boosts our physical and our mental well-being. But what really surprised me was how beneficial it is for dementia—it really seems to slow it down.

As a volunteer for Cycling Without Age on Hayling, we take residents of care homes out on specially adapted trishaws, and I notice the same calming effect. Care homes bring their residents to Pompey Pedals from as far away as Petersfield. Carers tell me they’re happier for several days afterwards, and easier to care for.

Roger on Cycling Without Age trike

Hayling must have hundreds of people with disabilities hidden away. We all know of friends or relatives, maybe even parents. Hidden away, because they’re usually not very mobile, so we rarely see them.

My ambition is to get them all mobile with inclusive cycling – a ’Hayling Pedals’ to match ‘Pompey Pedals’, based on the ’Cycling Without Age’ scheme, which is now established on Hayling, but is under threat. We can’t let it fail! Cycle Hayling is talking to the Council about finding a secure store for adapted trikes, which are bulkier than bikes, and a safe area to ride them, possibly around the southern end of the Billy Trail.  

Could you volunteer, as a rider, or help with bookings, or anything? Do you know a care home that would use it, or would help? It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life – join us!

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