Monday 27 April 2009

Cycle paths and the disabled

Cycle paths don't only provide utility for cyclists. They are also useful for other groups, such as those with disabilities. In the Netherlands it is quite common here to see people riding on electric buggies, hand cycles or adult tricycles. The paths make cycling by any means a good way of getting about, and there is the social aspect that people with disabilities can join in rides with able bodied friends.

This photo was taken on the direct West-East cycle path through one suburb of Assen.

This person is riding in an electric powered buggy which transports the owner in her wheelchair. This is next to a busy road in the area of the industrial estate, but here as everywhere else, the subjective safety is good enough that everyone can cycle.

And here are some traffic education cards (I featured some of these earlier) handed out to primary school children. The first one explains that in Dutch law, wheel chair users are also cyclists so should be expected n cycle-paths. The second refers to pedestrians and explains that while a cycle path may be compulsory for cyclists, it is not forbidden to walk on it (especially in the unusual cases when there is no separate walking path).
Strange but true: wheel chair users are also cyclists!      Compulsory for cyclists but not forbidden for pedestrians
Being truly "inclusive" and providing for all its members is one of those things which marks a mature and responsible society. In the Netherlands, cycling is truly something for all, just as it should be.

Where cycling is only for a brave or "foolish" few, it remains a minority interest.


acline said...

The more I read about John Forester the more I'm convinced that he was/is quite happy with a system in the U.S. in which bicycling is only for a brave few. We're paying a heavy price for all his years of "advocacy."

Nick said...

Very interesting, David, I didn't know these things were enshrined in Dutch law.

In you posts you have the knack, I notice, of making NL sound like Nirvana!

Kevin Love said...

What are "hand cycles"?

David Hembrow said...

Hand Bikes are bikes which you pedal with your hands. They are for people with disabilities in their legs. A few photos can be found here.

Steven Vance said...

I'm a web designer (and a member of the brave and few, I guess), and I like to say, "what's good for blind web users is good for all users."

Increasing the accessibility of a website to meet the needs of a blind or visually impaired user increases the *usability* for all remaining users.

David Hembrow said...

Steven, you see a similar effect here. The Netherlands has not concentrated merely on improving conditions for fit young adults on bicycles, but has made cycling accessible to all (though to the best of my knowledge this does except the blind unless accompanied on a tandem).

The effect of doing this has benefited all cyclists.