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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Wheelie good scheme for youngsters with disabilities


A youngster enjoying one of the specially-adapted
cycles which the scheme is planning to buy.
Young people with disabilities will soon have more opportunities to explore New Forest cycle trails thanks to a scheme organised by the New Forest National Park.

A range of specially-adapted trikes and tandems will soon be available following a grant of over £30,000 from Hampshire County Council’s Aiming High for Disabled Children programme. The National Park itself is contributing £5,000, with New Forest District Council adding another £1,000.

The scheme means young people with physical or learning disabilities will be able to enjoy the outdoors.

The bikes will be available from Brockenhurst cycle hire company Cyclexperience by early summer. The bikes can also be used for individual hire and group sessions, where they will be delivered to specially-selected Forest sites from which suitable trails can be accessed.

A survey last year of visitors and residents showed that around 10% of visitors to the New Forest have a long-term health issue or disability which impacts on their daily activity. Feedback from Cyclexperience staff also shows there is a demand for all-ability cycles, some of which can be operated by hand, or carry wheelchair-users as passengers.

Chris Gregory, the National Park’s Transport and Tourism Officer, said: ‘The New Forest National Park has a popular cycle track network extending over 100 miles. It is consistently rated as offering one of the best family cycling experiences in the UK but at the moment many young people with disabilities are largely excluded from enjoying it.

‘These highly-specialised bikes can cater for young  people with a wide range of disabilities who have not previously had access to cycling in the New Forest.

‘By getting out in the fresh air and enjoying the National Park we hope the quality of life and well-being of these young people and their families will be given a real boost.’

For more details about the New Forest Access For All cycle scheme, contact Chris Gregory on 01590 646683, email chris.gregory@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

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