A new project offering wheelchair-adapted bicycles for people with disabilities has been launched in Warmley near Bristol and will be partly run by people with learning disabilities.
Warmley Wheelers, based at the old railway station in Warmley on the Bristol to Bath cycle path, was launched on April 2 at an event attended by Councillor Ian Boulton, chair of South Gloucestershire Council, representatives of Warmley Park School, Sustrans and Milestones Trust, whose day opportunities group for people with learning disabilities will help to run the scheme.
The bikes will initially be used by Warmley Park School, and by Milestones Trust, but it is hoped that in a few months they will be available for hire to the general public.
“The Bristol and Bath railway path is a really valuable asset in South Glos, and to enable everyone to use it is really important,” said Cllr Boulton.
“It will promote independence,” added Christine Hill, project manager. “Not only because it is being run by people with learning disabilities, but because people can become confident cyclists – for example someone could be supported to cycle to the pub and back, until they are comfortable doing it on their own.”
Funding for the project came from the Department of Transport’s Local Sustainable Travel Fund for Communities. The Communities fund is administered in South Gloucestershire through Travelwest in partnership with Sustrans. Milestones Trust wrote the bid jointly with Liz Gray, whose son uses the service and who has been a strong advocate of the project.
South Gloucestershire Council agreed to develop the land and the station platform at Warmley Railway Station as a place where people can use adapted bikes. The location has a café adjacent. “We can also use the signal box as an area for group activities,” added Hill. “It’s perfect for the guys as it gives them employment, social inclusion and exercise!”
This project builds on the reputation already gained by Milestones Trust for promoting independence through cycling at their existing weekly cycling club in St Pauls, set up earlier this year. People with learning disabilities, mental health needs and other disabilities join this group every Friday to use accessible bikes and grow their cycling skills.