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Wheels4Fun gets disabled cyclists in the saddle

12 February 2018 - 2:26pm

Physiotherapist Trish Cunnison is inviting others in the profession to support Wheels4Fun, the Saturday group she set up to improve access to cycling for disabled people.

Wheels4Fun gets disabled cyclists in the saddle

A day out in Leeds for Wheels4Fun riders and volunteers

‘I am passionate about enabling people with disability to exercise in an enjoyable way,’ she said. ‘And as this project in Leeds is working so well and is so rewarding, I’d like to encourage others to try similar approaches.’

Ms Cunnison first got everyone in their saddles in 2016, while she was on a career break from a community neurology team working to improve access to disabled sport.

Opportunities for adults with physical disabilities who are unable to ride a standard bike were inadequate, she realised.

Wheels4Fun went on the road backed by a grant from Cycling UK and has been sustained by donations and volunteers ever since.

‘NHS cost restraints and the difficulty of getting new projects going as a clinician in the health service, mean that voluntary projects like mine could be a way forward,’ she said.

‘It’s a way of people being able to exercise in a supported environment, without it being provided by the NHS. Some people are able to do more exercise on a bike than through other activities, including walking.

‘And it offers social interaction for disabled people and their families and carers.’

Membership of Wheels4Fun is open-ended. People can join the group for a few sessions or make it a weekly activity.

Ms Cunnison described the experience of one member, Michael, who’d had a stroke. Over eight months, he progressed from riding a trike, to a tandem and then to a standard bike that had been adjusted so he could operate both brakes with one hand.

Ms Cunnison plans to work with cycling clubs in Leeds so they can support cycling for people with disability. She hopes other physios may be interested in this too.

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