2 October 2018
On Tuesday 11 September Leo Capella represented Get Yourself Active at the International Workshop on Delivering Cycling Training and Activity Sessions for Disabled People at University College London (UCL). This workshop was backed by the International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences (IATSS), Wheels for Wellbeing, and UCL.
It’s always nice to get an international perspective on what you’re doing. This session was a chance for me to get a global outlook in a packed room with practitioners and academics from different organisations and universities as well as learn more about inclusive cycling.
After the welcome speeches the workshop was broken down into two main parts. The first part was a morning of intensive seminars where different lecturers and providers of inclusive cycling from different countries including the UK, Netherlands and Japan gave interesting presentations.
The same old problems that hinder disabled people from getting active repeatedly reared their heads in the workshop, such as disabled people being seen as an afterthought by planners and outdated attitudes. In research done by Rachael Arendt at the University of Westminster, only a quarter of transport strategies in London saw disabled people as potential cyclists. This is something that at best is counterproductive as with cycling, normal activities like going to the shops can become part of physical activity.
Yet there were solutions demonstrated throughout the workshop, including the presentation of a draft guide for bicycle use by disabled children. This guide will be published by the IATSS in the future. There was also an interesting presentation about the possible benefits of tandem cycling which was done by The Aozora Foundation and the Group to Enjoy Tandem Bicycles in Osaka which runs tandem cycling activities in Osaka for disabled people.
There were some nice little details too. For example, although cycling is used by Japanese people for most trips under five kilometres, cyclists are seen as enemies of visually impaired people because they collide with them. In one collision a person broke a visually impaired person’s white cane! Yet despite the run-in the visually impaired person still wanted to ride a tandem bicycle.
In the afternoon, full to bursting with information, we were divided into different groups. We discussed three different questions around disability and inclusive cycling including how to make cycling and cycling training schemes more inclusive. The workshop then finished with a summary and call for next steps including research submissions.
All in all I gained a lot of knowledge about inclusive cycling and was able to contribute to a process that will end up with more disabled people of whatever age and whatever nationality being able to cycle inclusively. After all, the desire from disabled people across different countries is there, it’s just a matter of creating the opportunities and environment for people to cycle.