A neighbor of mine suffered a spinal chord injury at work a couple of years ago. While he doesn’t have the use of his legs, he is able to propel himself around in his wheelchair and enjoys getting outside for the fresh air and exercise. He stays in touch with his friends using one of the two or three cell phones that he carries at all times. He’s always cheery and eager to chat, unless he’s busy on the phone. I tease him that he is running a numbers racquet from the cul-de-sac.
We frequently talk about cycling. If I’m headed out for a ride, he always asks where I’m going and quizzes me about what I saw when I return. If he sees me loading my bike on the car rack, he’ll ask, “Are you going downtown for a First Friday Ride?”. Often he’ll say that he wishes that he could go for a bike ride – no doubt thinking back to days in the past when he was able to do just that.
That got me thinking, “Why couldn’t he go for a ride?”. His arms and shoulders are strong, so a hand crank operated device on a recumbent might work. That leaves turning and stopping? His grip is weak, but he might be able to brake wIth some type of system that would allow him to squeeze a brake by pressing his arms against his sides.
Do you have any knowledge about human powered transportation for people with special needs? Are there any custom bike builders in the area who specialize in this type of design and construction? Do any groups offer assistance to help defray part of the cost?
Your thoughts and comments just might give my friend the freedom to ride.