Recently my partner and I took a trip to our favourite UK destination, Brighton. We have been a few times together and it’s somewhere that holds a lot of great memories for us.
It’s also become a bit of a measure of my mobility. I have physical disabilities and over the years, our trips have changed due to my mobility declining.
When we first went, I could climb the stairs to the top floor of our hotel (we always stay at the same one near the sea front), wander the lanes for hours and sit in bars and restaurants easily.
The time before last, I found myself in a bit of a panic when I walked to the lanes, only to realise I had worn myself out and couldn’t walk back.
Our hotel became fewer lovely memories and more an accessibility nightmare. I started to believe our regular trips to this lovely city would cease.
This year I have been on a bit of a journey with my disabilities and adjusting for myself, within my new limitations.
We planned our trip, and I started researching the area with access in mind this time. I was confident I knew what my new ‘walking distance’ is, and planned bars and activities within this radius.
During my research I came across the bike share scheme there. I downloaded the app and got it set up, in case we decided to try it when we got there. I’ve seen these around before but never used them. A scheme was brought to Norwich when I lived there a few years ago and I was intrigued but too nervous to try it out. It then disappeared and where I live now, there isn’t a scheme currently in place. (Norwich has re-introduced a scheme, info at the end of the blog).
I was a little worried, but the layout of cycle paths in Brighton is so good, and with the support of my partner I wanted to try it. After all, it meant I could go into the town centre and the lanes just like I used to.
It was so easy. The app gives you a map of the locations where bikes or scooters are, there are always some nearby. As you approach you ‘book’ the equipment on the app and it gives you a code. You put this code into the keypad on the bike and it unlocks. As you’ve already signed up on the app your payment information is there, so you can start cycling straight away.
Using the cycle lanes we headed into town, found a drop off location, and once you click the lock into place and you get an email telling you your charge. For the trip we made it was around £2.00.
It made me feel so good. I’m not very strong these days but it made me feel independent. The thought of being able to get into town at whatever time I wanted, at my own pace but quicker, easier, and far more manageable than walking was just what I needed.
I think this trip was our best yet (and not just because we got engaged on the beach!) – but because I listened to my body, and I accepted support from the options available.
I try to use my car less these days, with the climate in mind, (not to mention fuel prices!) – our household have become interested in investing in electric bikes. Using an e-bike is much like riding a regular bike but easier! It puts in some of the work for you, making hills and longer distances more manageable.
If you’re thinking about making use of the equipment in your area, I would encourage you to give it a go. I’ve requested the same scheme in Ipswich. Some of the schemes have e-bikes and e-scooters to loan too.
You can request a scheme by writing to your local authority or downloading the apps and requesting it via the companies directly.
I do think Norfolk and Suffolk need improvements to cycle lanes to make this safe and accessible to more people but after having a go, I definitely feel more confident to try it out again.
Norwich bike scheme I mentioned earlier - https://beryl.cc/scheme/norwich
Brighton bike scheme - https://www.btnbikeshare.com/
Written by: Kimberly Myhill, Development Manager