A bicycle made for two!

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Tandems allow so many more people with disabilities to enjoy cycling.

A bicycle made for two!

There are many wonderful projects in our Inclusive Cycling Network that have adapted bikes that people with disabilities or additional needs can ride, but Charlotte's Tandems is different.
As a CTC cycling development office for the Midlands and the North of England, a lot of my work is about encouraging inclusive cycling. Although we have a growing Inclusive Cycling Network, there are still many people that contact CTC who live too far away from one of our centres. Recently, I spoke to Charlotte's Tandems and I was really encouraged by the work they do all over the UK.
Charlotte's Tandems lends relatively inexpensive tandems and tag-alongs for free to anyone with an additional need or disability anywhere in the UK. The borrower can use the bike for up to two months at a time. 
There are now over a hundred tandems and tag-alongs in the Charlotte's Tandems fleet and they are located with volunteer helpers all over the UK. The helpers include owners of bike shops like J.D. Tandems in Gargrave, cyclists, such as Ray in Shropshire, and parents of children with additional needs. 
The scheme began in April 2010, became a small charity in April 2011 and then a Registered Charity in July 2012. The machines range from fast road tandem bikes to leisure, mountain bike style tandem bikes, tandem trikes, tag-along bikes and a tag-along trike.
The charity is named after 17 year old Charlotte, who has severe learning difficulties, autism, challenging behaviours and is non-verbal. She loves to be out on her tandem; whizzing down the Cotswold Escarpment and sitting back, allowing her Dad to all the hard work, as they climb back up the hills. Since she enjoys tandeming so much, the charity was set up so that other people could experience the delights of tandem riding, without splashing out on their own machine.
So far, the cycles have been borrowed by people with: Severe Learning Difficulties, Autism, Asperger's, Blindness, Visual Impairment, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Amputation, Hearing Loss, Dyspraxia, Fybromalgia, Parkinson's, MS, ME, CRPS, COPD, Hemiplasia, Tuberous Sclerosis, Charge and MPS III.
Alan and his brothers borrowed the North-East based Dawes Discovery tandem and took their Dad, Robert, who suffers from Parkinson's, on a weekend tour of Northumberland recently. They've uploaded their adventures onto Facebook and said that “It was a brilliant weekend and the tandem was much appreciated.” and “115 miles done. Best weekend for a long time”.
Maya borrowed a Gloucestershire based tag-along and a backrest for daughter Rani, who has various physical and learning difficulties. They have been able to now go on lovely rides together as a family in the sunshine. Maya says that “We are going to take it on holiday with us and we have even persuaded Rani to hold on some of the time.”
Charlotte's Tandems would love to hear from anyone who would like to borrow a tandem or tag-along or become a helper.
To find out more join Charlotte's Tandems' Facebook Group and follow @CharlottesTand on Twitter.

 

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