Mobility aid: trike

There is something I feel needs to be given more importance in society: access and getting around with mobility aids. I am 38 years old and was diagnosed with m.s. over 14 years ago. I am doing well and look after myself so I am enjoying life but I do have difficulty walking and cannot move very far. To ease this, 2.5 years ago I got a tricycle (a bike with three wheels and no motor) and it totally changed my life. I can now pop back and forwards, amble along with friends chatting, do my shopping. It really has been a wonderful addition to my life. Yet sometimes it is a real hindrance and, in my opinion, it really should not be.

Every now and then I pluck up the courage to go a little further afield with my trike, a day trip up the coast for example. I do not do it often because I know I will be met with dirty looks and dissing remarks. I will give you an example: on Friday night I wanted to go to a friend’s house. We are both in Barcelona and she lives on the other side of the city to where I am. It is quite a trek and so it is much more manageable for me to go a chunk of the way by bus. It is a bit of a walk at the other end and I need my trike to get from the bus stop to her house so I decided to brave taking my trike on the bus. Sure enough, when I got on the bus I was told my trike did not fit, that the bus was not fitted out for a mobility aid of such a size. However, the bus driver was nice and when I explained my predicament, he let me on with my trike. As soon as the bus got going I turned around and was faced with about 8 people frowning and muttering at me. I did not know what to do so I announced that I have m.s. and I need my trike to get around. Most people then backed down but one lady continued to tell me how selfish I am, that I am not the only person living in this city, I am not normal, etc. I responded in a defensive way then turned around and shed a tear.

It seems like every time I try to do something that many of us take for granted (e.g. the shopping, popping to a friend’s house, going away for the weekend) I am confronted with insults and difficulties. I really want people to be more aware of how something so simple can improve someone’s quality of life immensely. Moreover, I really think buses and trains should be equipped and prepared to deal with and help people with mobility issues and mobility aids and not just wheelchairs. What I have come to understand in the 2.5 years with my trike is that if you are very disabled (in a wheelchair, for example) allowances are made and help is given. However, if you are somewhere between able-bodied and disabled, tough cookies! I have chosen to use a pedal driven trike for the reasons given above and because it keeps me fit and keeps my spirits up.

I would really appreciate any advice anyone can give me on how to deal with this issue and steps I can take to try and make a difference.

Mobility aid - recumbent trike

In my younger days I used to cycle. It was my primary mode of both transport and recreation. About 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with MS and it’s been a - thankfully very slow - decline since. Cycling, and walking were among the first things to go , though I am still able to walk a little with the aid of a FES to counter foot drop and a stick to aid balance. (Occasionally a wheelchair, for longer walks)

Just a couple of weeks ago, I passed a shop that sells, among other things, three wheeled recumbent bikes (the ones where you’re basically lying down). The chap at the shop kindly let me try it out. As I suspected, it didn’t work. My left foot just slid off the pedal. The chap then (incredibly kindly) strapped my foot to the pedal and let me try again.

I have never looked back, my horizons have sped away from me. I’m able to go exploring under my own steam, I’m able to go cycling with my girlfriend. I can do proper exercise without it ruining my day with exhaustion. On the downside, I have become something of an evangelist for Laidback Bikes.

I think I’m with you in the no-man’s-land of being partly mobile. I felt such shame when I started having to use a wheelchair for. What must people think when I stand up out of it? They must think I’m putting it on! Am I? a bit? These thoughts can drive you a bit mad, no? Mobility is not such a binary thing. People, in the main, are lovely and genuinely want to understand and help.

When the benefits are legion (as they are in this case), I think it’s a small thing to have to smile sheepishly at people wondering why someone is cycling on the footpath.


i read your post earlier today and logged off to give me time to think.

firstly i note u r not in uk. in the uk there are guidelines about sizes of wheelchairs that can go on buses and trains. as far as i am aware there are few places that accept scooters. i am lucky(?!) to be bad enough that i cant manage a scooter or trike-i use a powerchair (the size is within the required dimensions)

here there is a safety bar and sometimes a pole to navigate around before parking up in the wheelchair space. i have seen many scooters on the street and they look bigger than the dimensions allowed and i have never seen a scooter on a bus or train (there may have been but i have never witnessed it)

i understand all that u have said re trike. in an ideal world i agree with you. however in reality theres such a variety of folk using public transport then there has to be a cut off point somewhere surely?

i guess a trike would be bigger than the legal dimensions for here. at urs-i have no idea, sorry. foldable trike?

i guess bigger/wider buses and trains would be an answer but that a whole different story!

i hope that u r able to use ur trike for many years to come!