The Rt Honourable Grant Shapps MP
Secretary of State for Transport
The House of Commons
Ref: GOV UK, Reallocating Road Space initiative – empowering disabled cyclists.
11th May 2020
Dear Mr Shapps.
I read with interest and approval, the government’s intention to role out “Pop-up” cycle paths with a view to facilitating social distancing, reducing the burden on public transport, improving general health and reducing environmental damage. However, having reviewed all relevant instruments on this matter, I can find very little reference to how disabled cyclists would be provided for within the remit of this very meritorious idea.
There are a multiplicity of reasons why the disabled community or those with mobility challenges would benefit from your plans, but there are just as many medical reasons why they might not be able to manage a bicycle. However, most people – from simple balance or confidence issues through to genetic or acquired disease, stroke, or heart attack – will be able to use an adaptive tricycle.
I am certain that the “safe cycling” nature of the government’s initiative will encourage many such persons to take to three wheels for shopping, health and leisure reasons, however, allowance must be made within the new initiative for the slight additional width of a tricycle in order for them to take advantage of the initiative. (Nominally 75cm plus safe clearance for a sole rider and 110cm plus safe clearance, for a twin rider, with an average 200cm O/A length). Additionally, barriers intended to limit traffic to pedestrian or bicycle use are insurmountable obstacles for tricycles.
In trusting that your plans will be inclusive of this growing sector of our broader society, may I say that for twenty-two years, my company, Tomcat SNI Ltd, has been a prolific and innovative champion of the disabled cycling community, breaking down cycling barriers for ever more complex social and clinical challenges. In recognition of our work we have recently been awarded our second Queens Award for Enterprise Innovation (2020), however, we are very conscious that what can be achieved through progressive technology is limited by the tricycle and riders safety on our busy roads. I truly hope that your innovative initiative will embrace the very small adjustments that may be necessary to include this deserving sector of society.
As a subject matter expert on the construction and other technical aspects of tricycle design, I am at your disposal should you wish to consult on this matter for which my services would be free of charge.
Bob Griffin, MD & Founder of Tomcat SNI Ltd.
Update: Director of Wheels for wellbeing, Isabelle Clement also wrote to Grant Shapps MP on the 19th July. The following letter can be read in its entirety on the Wheels for Wellbeing website.
The increase in walking and cycling infrastructure and schemes to promote active travel are great, but here at Wheels for Wellbeing we have concerns that local authorities aren’t always aware of the additional accessibility requirements of Disabled people. We need enough space on the streets and more financial support so that we can all walk, wheel and cycle. That’s why we’ve written to Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, to ask for some help from the Department for Transport: