Eileen Morgan, the Inclusive Cycling Officer for Chester Cycling Campaign, has recently had 2 big successes:
- Getting the Mickle Trafford barrier on the Millennium Greenway changed so that it is now accessible.
- Receiving local and national recognition for her campaigning on behalf of those in the community who use their cycle as an essential mobility aid.
The chicane gates at the Mickle Trafford end of the Chester Greenway – only 150m away from the Meadow Lea coffee shop – were impossible to pass through for many adapted cycles. Eileen worked with Sustrans, the national Cycling and Walking charity, and played a key role in launching their ‘Raise the Bar’ appeal to help remove or redesign restrictive barriers on Sustrans routes, to create a more inclusive Network. The Mickle Trafford barrier has now been modified to enable easy access for all adapted cycles, wheelchairs, buggies and mobility scooters. Sustrans used Eileen’s success on their publicity.
Eileen’s success locally has recently gained her national recognition in a virtual social chat held by ‘Wheels for Wellbeing’ (the UK’s leading campaigning organisation on behalf of Disabled cyclists) to review the opportunity to promote electric bikes as mobility aids. Their campaign ‘My Cycle, My Mobility Aid’ is for legal recognition of cycles as mobility aids. An example of the issues is Eileen being told that she is not allowed to ride her bike to access the platform areas at Chester Station because her mobility aid is a ‘cycle’ not a wheelchair and cycles have be dismounted & pushed – which is impossible when your cycle is your solution to not being able to walk far!
She also has a high level of input into the Campaign’s Chester Cycle Map project , identifying locations in and around Chester which represent difficulties to those using a wide variety of mobility aids and specially adapted bikes.
Eileen’s rare spinal condition (diastematomyelia) means that she is dependent on wheeled transport outside her home. After trying an electric bike 5 years ago at a disabled charity event and finding it gave her a sense of freedom that she had previously been unable to enjoy, she began searching for the cycle to suit her specific needs – it took 3 years to find it!
“Cycling is one of the few activities that keeps me fit without giving me severe discomfort. A standard wheelchair is far too uncomfortable. I can cycle for much longer than I can sit in a wheelchair or a mobility scooter. I just love the wonderful feeling of freedom that it gives me”. She is currently testing out a mountain trike which will enable her to access uneven paths, off road and beaches – places a conventional wheelchair cannot go.
It is important that local authorities consider path widths, restrictive barriers and bollards and the availability of charging units for those using e-bikes or mobility scooters. We also need a new permit scheme similar to the blue badge, to enable those using e-bikes as a mobility aid to legally access pedestrian zones, station platforms, etc.