Adaptive outdoor cycling equipment turns disabled riders into Explorers
Unique cycling machines that can help people with disabilities get outdoors onto hiking and skiing trails will also help UBC Okanagan students to better understand physical limitations.
Interior Savings recently contributed $20,000 through its Community Investment Fund for the purchase and delivery of specially designed cycles called Parks Explorers. The three-wheeled Explorers give control back to the cyclists as they propel themselves with a hand-crank system.
Two cycles have been donated to UBC Okanagan to be used by UBC’s School of Health and Exercise Science (HES) students during their practical placements in the community.
Sally Willis-Stewart, HES senior instructor, says the Parks Explorers showcase important community partnerships. Funded by Interior Savings, the equipment will be used by Kelowna’s Community Recreational Initiatives Society (CRIS), an organization that uses adaptive equipment to enable people with disabilities to explore the great outdoors. At the same time, UBC students will help CRIS and its clients with the new equipment.
“While offering a healthy activity for people with disabilities, the Parks Explorers provide collaboration between these community groups and UBC, and create innovative learning opportunities for our students through classes, labs, and research,” says Willis-Stewart. “It is so great to see such teamwork in our community.”
CRIS founder Troy Becker was at UBC with the two Parks Explorers recently and he says the marvel of the equipment is that it gives control back to the participants. Developed by Calgary’s Christian Bagg, a paraplegic who researched, designed, planned, and built the Parks Explorer, the machines let the operators propel themselves with the hand-crank system. Bagg never wanted to be “carried” anywhere, explains Becker, and the machines are the first device of their kind with an articulated system to handle a 30-degree side slope. The machines can also be equipped with skis and used for cross-country ski expeditions.
“The Park Explorers are breaking the psychological and physical barriers that many people face,” says Becker. “These are going to allow people to get outdoors and go places they never thought possible. It’s much more than a piece of equipment. It’s totally going to change where people can go and improve their lives for the better.”
Gene Creelman, Senior Vice President, Member and Community Engagement with Interior Savings, says it’s important for Interior Savings to partner with UBC and CRIS.
“Having UBC research and apply new insights so that the people at CRIS can experience more of the outdoors is very rewarding,” he says. “It is another impactful way that our credit union can help make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
Along with Health and Exercise students, UBC’s Human Kinetics students will also use the bikes and study them from a mechanical-advantage perspective. Willis-Stewart said students will personally use the Explorers to feel what someone with physical limitations would experience.
“The contribution of this equipment is a celebration of innovation, of improved health, of advocacy and of education,” says Willis-Stewart. “This equipment can accommodate so many more people, and CRIS can provide even more incredible adventures that may never have been possible before.”
The Interior Savings contribution was made through UBC’s Start an Evolution campaign, which has a goal of raising $100 million to support students, research and programs.