The City of Kelowna has launched a new adaptive bike program that is designed to provide people with diverse abilities, permanent disabilities or mobility issues the opportunity to learn and ride specialized equipment.
Every Monday at the Parkinson Recreation Centre, the program will see participants have access to six adaptive tricycles and two adult trailers, with the ultimate goal to make the specialized equipment more accessible and affordable to anyone who wishes to learn.
“As the program starts to expand and grow and people get better at using the bikes, we’ll probably have a level two to it, then they can head out on the rails with trails,” said Ali Westlund, the community recreation coordinator with the City of Kelowna’s active living and culture program.
The program will run until the end of the month or into early November, before resuming in the springtime. With classes full and a waitlist mounting, Westlund said that the demand tells her that this program is much-needed in Kelowna.
“The biggest concerns I think that people have are feeling safe on the roads when they’re just learning to ride a bike, so people want to start here,” she said.
A demonstration of the program was hosted at the rec centre on Thursday (Oct. 8). The idea for the program was inspired by Karen St. Pierre and her 22-year-old son Kai, after the challenges they experienced with owning an adaptive bike.
“There are real challenges when it comes to personally owning adaptive bikes — transporting it, the cost of specialized equipment and these bikes are very heavy too,” said St. Pierre.
“This new community service will be a huge benefit for not only my son but for anyone with disabilities that is seeking that extra independence and opportunity to explore the outdoors.”
In the future, Westlund said that her hope is for the program to expand to seniors in town.
“I had a senior here today and she hasn’t ridden a bike in eight years. The last time she rode a bike, she fell off,” said Westlund.
“The fear of hopping on the bike and getting on it today and being able to ride it — it was really great.”