This article was published in 2011, in Newsletter 96.
Cambridge is world famous for its cycling. It is a great way to get around in the community, gain independence and stay healthy. Despite these benefits, there are currently no facilities for people with disabilities to learn how to cycle. This is something which the ‘All Ability’ project aims to change.
‘Cycling is what makes the quality of life in Cambridge so high – quieter streets, more peaceful neighbourhoods and a vibrancy of people keeping fit of all ages from toddlers to pensioners. What is missing is a way of welcoming all abilities into this culture. An all-ability cycling club would ensure people from all walks of life as well as all ages could enjoy the benefits of cycling and bring a much needed resource to our lovely city.’
Rob King – Director of Outspoken
Whilst working for Speaking Up (now Voiceability), on a project supporting people with learning difficulties to take advantage of opportunities available to them, it became clear to me that there were very few community-based daytime opportunities accessible to people with learning disabilities – cycling being one of them. Despite expressing a desire to cycle, there were simply no opportunities available for people with learning disabilities to do this.
‘I fully support this excellent initiative to provide an opportunity for disabled people and able-bodied people alike to cycle in safety together. Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of cycling for individuals such as exercise, independence and getting some fresh air. I look forward to working in partnership on this exciting project.’
Mike Davies, Programme Manager of Cycle Cambridge, for Cambridgeshire County Council
Researching further, it was clear that there were also no facilities for people with physical disabilities, mental health problems, or people just lacking in confidence, to learn how to cycle. With the benefits that cycling offers, including increased confidence, independence, physical health benefits and improved mental health from participation and having fun, there was a very real need to set up a project to make cycling accessible to everyone.
The aim of the ‘All Ability’ cycling project is to create an all-inclusive ‘club’ at a safe off-road facility where people with and without disabilities can take part and cycle together as part of their community. The project will be led by those with disabilities, who know best what they need and how it should happen.
‘We are delighted that our son (who has learning difficulties) has the opportunity to be involved in the ‘all ability’ cycling project proposed for Cambridge, not only because cycling is excellent exercise and great fun promoting good health but it will also build up his confidence and give him road awareness. The fact that it is local is excellent, he will have to spend less time travelling and be able to spend more time ‘in the saddle’. The bonus is that as a member of the steering group our son will play a positive part in developing the group to meet his, and the needs of many other local people. All in all a very exciting and worthwhile project.’
Jackie Hedges – Parent of adult with learning difficulties
This project is currently being developed in partnership with Outspoken (the cycle courier and cycle training business) and You Can, a new Community Interest Company, established by people with years of experience of working with adults with disabilities.
Working together, this project hopes to attract people from all walks of life in Cambridge to take part and cycle together in the community.
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