Are you someone with a disability who's always wanted to try using a tandem or tag-along? Do you know someone with a disability who does?
Charlotte Little shares her experiences of learning to tandem. “Before my diagnosis of Usher Syndrome Type 2 at the age of 14, I considered myself naturally athletic, and I was involved with sports such as football and cycling. Every-day activities such as sports and exercising seem impossible, due to the lack of accommodation, understanding and the fear of rejection and exclusion. As my peripheral vision deteriorated, I stopped partaking in sports, and I could no longer independently cycle”.
Charlotte’s Dad, keen to boost Charlotte’s confidence and reignite her love of cycling, borrowed a tandem bike from an incredible charity known as Charlotte's Tandems. “We learnt how to tandem cycle, and a few years later, and I now have my very own tandem”, Charlotte continues,
Tandeming is a really enjoyable experience to share with family or friends, and it has allowed me the freedom to cycle again."
Charlotte's Tandems (not the same Charlotte) is a registered charity that lends tandems and tag-along bikes to those with disabilities or additional needs, who are unable to safely ride a bike themselves, for free. Naming the charity after their daughter, who has severe learning difficulties and autism, Kate and Alex found cycling as a way to keep Charlotte content and active. After discovering that Charlotte loved tandem cycling, Kate and Alex decided to expand their love for tandeming, encouraging friends and families to experience tandem cycling. Charlotte's Tandems became a charity in 2011, and Regional Helpers were founded to assist in creating a national community of tandem users.
Tandems are seen as a beneficial means to encourage individuals with disabilities, whether they are learning, visual or physical disabilities, to engage in an enjoyable experience that can be easily shared with friends and families.
Charlotte's Tandems have 140 tandem bikes, 24 tag-along bikes, 2 tandem trikes, and 4 tag-along trikes all over the UK and Ireland. They are available for hire at no cost for a few months at a time, but some individuals have them for much more extended periods.
The disabilities of borrowers have included:
Severe Learning Difficulties, Autism, Asperger's, Blindness, Visual Impairment, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Amputation, Hearing Loss, Dyspraxia, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Parkinson's, MS, ME, CRPS, COPD, Hemiplegia, Tuberous Sclerosis, CHARGE & MPS III.