Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from the Inclusive Cycling Forum (DAT 31)

1. The Inclusive Cycling Forum represents disabled people who use cycles for personal transport. For those who have difficulty walking, cycling can be a very efficient form of mobility and is highly valued for the independence, sense of freedom and exercise it provides. The types of cycle used are two, three and four wheeled, single and tandem, foot and hand cranked, sometimes with electric assist. The range of disabilities among cyclists is varied and includes for example cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, loss of limb(s), learning difficulties, paraplegia and even tetraplegia. This five and a half minute video made by the London charity Wheels for Wellbeing gives a good introduction to how disabled people use cycles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2C1VOKiF14&feature=player_embedded

2. Cycles as mobility aids. Cycles are used as mobility aids by disabled people but cycles do not appear to be recognised as such in law, as illustrated in this case where had the woman involved been using her mobility scooter the incident would not have happened: http://road.cc/content/news/30318-disabled-cyclist-ordered-trike-confusion-reigns-over-london-south-bank-cycling. Disabled cyclists, even those using tricycles, are being prevented from using them as mobility aids. Wheeled mobility aids are covered in the “The Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations 1988” which states that a Class 1 invalid carriage means an invalid carriage which is not mechanically propelled. Where do wheelchairs with handcycle attachments, tricycles, and even two wheelers used by people who have great difficulty walking, fit into this legislation? We wish to see clarification concerning cycles used as mobility aids by disabled people.

3. Access to off-road cycle routes. Rights of way are not presently covered by the DDA or Equalities Act and there are many cases of barriers erected on cycle routes which prevent disabled cyclists accessing them using handcycles, tricycles and tandems, such as this one on the National Cycle Network Route 51: https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=Marston+Moretaine&hl=en&ll=52.060565,-0.581503&spn=0.062798,0.093727&sll=52.8382,-2.327815&sspn=15.829194,23.994141&oq=marst&hnear=Marston+Moretaine,+Central+Bedfordshire,+United+Kingdom&t=m&z=14&layer=c&cbll=52.060584,-0.581645&panoid=g4Es6JiHgL-sC6wm5yAa0g&cbp=12,295.35,,0,10.96. In many cases these barriers exclude wheelchairs and mobility scooters as well. We wish to see rights of way made accessible to disabled people and their mobility aids in future.

4. Information on accessible cycle routes. Disabled cyclists are greatly inconvenienced when they discover a cycle route is inaccessible. The London Underground publish a step free tube map which enables disabled people to plan their journey while the network is being updated. We wish to see producers of cycle maps, for example Sustrans and local authorities, being required to provide information on the accessibilty of cycle routes.

5. Design of Cycle Infrastructure. Currently there is only guidance for the design of cycle infrustructure in the form of LTN 2/08, and even this guidance, despite recognising that disabled cyclists exist, advocates designing infrastructure for them only in certain situations. We wish to see a requirement for all cycle infrastructure to be designed so that it is inclusive and therefore suitable for people using handcycles, tricycles and tandems. This video illustrates the benefits to disabled people of designing an inclusive cycle network: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSGx3HSjKDo&feature=player_embedded

6. VAT on cycles used as mobility aids. Cycles used by people with disabilities are generally more expensive than the standard cycles available. For example, hub gears are a more expensive option but are required by a disabled person so they can change gear while stationary. Currently a cycle has to be specifically designed or adapted for a disabled person for it to qualify as exclusive of VAT. We wish to see VAT exclusion extended to include cycles and accessories used by disabled people even though they were not specifically designed for them.

7. Mobility aids and public transport. Providing for only one wheelchair space in a train carriage or on a bus prevents disabled couples from travelling together; where one space can be provided room for two is possible and should be the goal. Although public transport has improved considerably in terms of catering for the disabled, the mobility impaired are expected to come pre-packaged in the DDA Standard Chair which excludes them using other mobility aids such as cycles. We would like to see more space made available using more open and versatile designs so a greater variety of mobility aids can be accommodated.

January 2013

Prepared 13th September 2013