New Inventions Make Cycling Accessible for All

By: Derek Rayside

Cycling is fun. But not everyone is able to get in on the fun with a traditional bicycle. There is an exciting range of new inventions that make cycling accessible to everyone. In this article we'll discuss some independent options, and next time we'll see some options with a partner.
The Alinker is a walking bike designed by Barbara Alink in Vancouver that is just coming to market now. It is intended as an alternative to a rollator/walker. It keeps your eyes at level with people standing, and makes it easier to shake hands and hug --- in addition to being fun and (relatively) fast. The Alinker folds for storage.
Photo credit RTV Oost / Mark Bakker 
Batec Mobility
(Spain) makes exciting bike front-ends for wheelchairs. They have both hand-crank and e-bike versions. These connect to any wheelchair, and are easy to detach. For example, you could cycle to the store, lock the front-end on the bike rack outside, and wheel inside with just your wheelchair. I met a group of people gleefully riding around the fields on the island with these the other weekend. Helena told me how liberating it was to be able to get off the sidewalk and go through the fields again after twenty years in her wheelchair. Available in Toronto at
Photo credit Derek Rayside
Tricycles are also a great option. There are three main kinds of adult tricycles: conventional, recumbent, and family/cargo. Conventional tricycles look as you would expect: one wheel in the front, two in the back. These usually have a regular bicycle saddle, although some come with a cushioned chair seat instead, potentially with a back. One of my neighbours has been using a conventional adult tricycle as her main means of transportation around the city for years, and she recommends the Norco brand. Many shops carry Norco bikes, and they can special order the tricycle for you.
Recumbent tricycles (or bicycles) have a reclined lounge-chair like seat. They might have the two wheels in the front or the back. Urbane Cyclist  (formerly on John St, now at 280 College St) carries four different brands of recumbent trikes: Hase (Germany), HP Velotechnik (Germany), ICE (UK), and Catrike (USA). They typically have a handful of different models in the shop, selected from over a dozen different options on their website. Urbane can work with you to customize the trike for your specific needs. For example, they adapted a trike for a customer who could use only one side of his body. They carry both pedal-powered and hand-crank recumbent trikes.
 Photo credit HASE Bikes
You can go just as far on a hand-crank trike as someone pedalling with their legs. One beautiful Sunday afternoon I met Mike in the bike lanes riding his hand-crank tricycle home from Tommy Thompson Park on the Leslie Street Spit. Based on where I met him and where the park is, I reckon that he cycled about 20km that day.
 Photo credit Derek Rayside
There are two tricycle distributors in Canada with consumer-facing websites: (Toronto) and (Montreal). They both have a wide range of trikes, in traditional and recumbent styles, including ones suitable for a variety of special needs. They also carry kits to convert your bike into a trike, as well as adult training wheels. Smaller tricycle businesses include: Freedex (Toronto, 416-742-2310), (Alberta), and (Quebec). Ron McCurdy from Freedex describes how his uncle kept riding his trike into his 90's, even after he could no longer use his walker.
Laura Hunter (, Toronto) teaches cycling to children and youth facing unconventional challenges. Her staff develops customized training plans and equipment recommendations for each rider. She has a wide variety of equipment available to train on. The Holland Bloorview Rehabilitation Hospital also provides some training and has loaner equipment available for their patients.
If you need to transport children or cargo, there are great family/cargo tricycles from Wike (Canada), Babboe (Holland), Bakfiets (Holland), Nihola (Denmark), Triobike (Denmark), and Butchers & Bicycles (Denmark). These tricycles all have the two wheels in the front, with a large box in between that can seat multiple children with groceries. There is a wide price range among these tricycles, with higher-priced models having more sophisticated steering mechanisms, better gearing, and electric assist. Stores that carry these trikes and deliver to Toronto include (412 Bloor St. W.), (Guelph), (Burlington), and Allo Vélo (Montréal).
Photo credit Babboe
Some funding is available for some individuals in some circumstances to assist with these kinds of purchases, via OHIP or private foundations. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist to find out what is best for you.
There is such an amazing range of new bikes on the market now that everyone can enjoy the wind in their hair. See you on the island, in the fields, and in the bike lanes!
Derek is having an adult tricycle custom built for his family by Malcolm Munro at Biseagal on Carlaw.
Contact Derek:
Our new issue of dandyhorse has arrived! dandyhorse is available for FREE at Urbane Cyclist, Bikes on Wheels, Cycle Couture, Sweet Pete's, Hoopdriver, Batemans, Velofix, and Steamwhistle.Our new issue of dandyhorse includes cover art by Kent Monkman, interviews with Catherine McKenna and the women behind Toronto's first feminist bike zine, lots of news and views on Bloor, Under Gardiner and the West Toronto Railpath and much, much more! Get dandy at your door or at better bike and book shops in Toronto.
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One response to “New Inventions Make Cycling Accessible for All”

  1. Hamilton Trike & Bent also has a great selection of recumbent and conventional trikes in stock.

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