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Two Wheels Good, Four Wheels Better

July 1, 2015

A press release from VisitScotland:

Scotland’s mountain biking hotspots – including trails in the Highlands, Dumfries & Galloway and the Borders – are attracting cyclists on four wheels as well as two, thanks to a specialised club.

Rough Riderz gravity biking club was formed in 2006 to help disabled and able-bodied mountain bikers participate in the UK’s newest downhill mountain biking (MTB) scene, and promote it as an integrated sport nationwide.

Club members ride specially-designed four-wheeled mountain bikes, using gravity alone to propel themselves down purpose-built downhill MTB trails. By raising awareness, they hope to increase interest in the sport, creating a more vibrant and inclusive biking scene.

Originally designed for wheelchair users, ‘gravity’ bikes have no pedals and rely solely on the downhill gradient of trails to propel them along the off-road technical terrain associated with regular mountain bike riding.

 

Based in Preston, Rough Riderz club secretary Phil Hall has been travelling to Scotland to test as many trails as possible to find suitable venues for this innovative and accessible new sport. Locations at which they have ridden and tested on four wheels include Glentress and Innerleithen, Mabie Forest, Ae Forest, Laggan Wolftrax and Fort William.

 

Phil said:

“As a paraplegic downhill rider and huge extreme sports fan, I wanted to find a way for those with access needs to experience the thrill of downhill mountain biking. Riding on a gravity bike is such a great, fun sport, we quickly realised it should be available to all, and we have many able-bodied members now, too.

 

“We have always enjoyed visiting Scotland, which offers a network of the best downhill trails anywhere in the UK. We have had a really warm welcome and the chance to ride some of the best and most stunning venues in the country, with favourites including Ae, Laggan and Fort William.

 

“The club is currently involved in designing a practical and affordable new bike, intended to be easy to ride, service and repair. We are aiming for this to be ready to purchase by the end of the year.”

 

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“It is fantastic to hear that Scottish mountain bike trails and tracks are attracting both four wheel as well as the traditional two-wheel bikers. Mountain biking in Scotland is an incredibly popular sport, largely due to the great terrain and scenery. These amazing gravity bikes ensure this extreme sport is more accessible and inclusive, opening up the experience of riding some of the most exciting mountain bike trails in the world up to many more people in Scotland.

 

“Our country has a global reputation for cycling and in the UK alone it is estimated that there are 11 million people who own a mountain bike. From cycling tours around the incredible Highlands to mountain biking in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, there is a huge opportunity for Scottish tourism.

 

“This interest also boosts the visitor economy locally, as hotels, restaurants and accommodation providers are all amongst businesses who can capitalise on the back of the sport’s popularity, often outwith the traditional tourist season.”

VisitScotland research shows that domestic visitors to Scotland who take part in mountain biking or cycling stay, on average, over two million nights and spend £109 million each year.

Such visitors will often stay at more remote and rural locations, generating income for smaller villages and towns not always visited on the traditional tourist trail. This has been demonstrated in Moray, where businesses in Tomintoul and Glenlivet have benefited directly from the opening of the mountain biking trails at the Glenlivet Estate, including during the traditionally quieter winter months.

Accessible tourism is valued at £1.5bn to the Scottish economy and its contribution to domestic tourism in Scotland has increased by 20% since 2009, demonstrating the huge potential economic benefits to hundreds of businesses and services across the country in catering for this market. Currently, of the over 11 million disabled people in Britain, only around two million take a holiday because many find it just too difficult, so this is largely an untapped market.

 

Earlier this year, VisitScotland announced up to £29,000 in funding for two mountain biking events in the Scottish Borders this year. The TweedLove Enduro World Series event and the British Mountain Bike Marathon Championships secured investment from EventScotland, the events team at VisitScotland, through its National Programme.

Anyone wanting to try gravity biking for themselves can book a taster day session with the Rough Riderz club. These days are currently hosted at the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, or Whinlatter Forest in Cumbria, with plans to extend the experience to other parts of the UK in the future. All the relevant details needed to book a session can be found at www.roughriderz.co.uk

More information on cycling in Scotland can be found here: http://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/activities/cycling/  and on mountain biking in Scotland here: http://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/activities/mountain-biking/

Another Video From The ILF Closing Ceremony Yesterday

July 1, 2015

With many thanks to Kate Belgrave:

Mike Sivier explains that the Government have now turned disability into a postcode lottery.

A Letter A Day To No 10 1134: The ILF And Motability

July 1, 2015

Cutting Support To Disabled People Will Deny Them A Career

July 1, 2015

Says Joanna Mason in yesterday’s Guardian.

Tuesday marked the end of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which has helped disabled people live an active life in their communities rather than being hidden away in residential care. Its demise comes despite immense protest, including one last week by campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) in the lobby of the House of Commons, supported by Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn.

ILF is not the only fund that is under attack. I am in receipt of Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), without which I would certainly struggle. It’s thanks to DSA-provided equipment, such as a laptop with speech recognition software and an audio recorder, that I can succeed in my degree despite a physical disability. But I could end up graduating and then struggling to make ends meet because the extra costs I have as a disabled person would no longer be covered due to cuts to the Personal Independence Payment (Pip) and disability benefits being taxed. The prime minister has refused to rule this out in his mission to find a further £12bn savings in the welfare budget.

The idea is purportedly to encourage disabled people to work, yet David Cameron seems to misunderstand: Pip is not an out-of-work benefit but provides payments designed to level the playing field between disabled and non-disabled people on the same income. Additional costs incurred through having a disability include, for example, petrol for frequent hospital visits, medications, and adaptations for the home. The Extra Costs Commission has found that disabled people are paying over the odds for many of these goods and services.

The disability minister, Justin Tomlinson, claims the government is getting more disabled people into work, but it is cutting Access to Work grants, which help make a job possible for many disabled people. Likewise the Access to Elected Office fund, which aimed to help disabled people participate in governance, was closed in March. Perhaps that explains why the number of MPs identifying as disabled has dwindled to two; a parliament representative of the UK population would have more than 100 disabled MPs.

Taxing Pip would save £915m, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, but a tax on Pip would leave many on low wages worse off financially if they got a job, disincentivising work and failing to produce the expected savings.

DSA came under threat last year with much of the cost of supporting disabled students shifted to already underfunded educational institutions. Likewise, ILF claimants will now have to turn to hard-pressed local authorities, which have said they will not be able to provide the same level of support.

My fear is that these attacks on our financial support will lead to an increasingly negative attitude towards disabled people, shutting down the careers of young people like myself before we even get started.

The ILF’s Funeral

June 30, 2015

Protesters attended the funeral of the Independent Living Fund today in London.

They put together this video of the ceremony:

Paralysed Man Walks With ‘Robot Legs’

June 30, 2015

A 31-year old man who lost the use of his legs in 2013 after being diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder, has described the “incredible feeling” of walking with robotic legs.

Simon Kindleysides walked alongside Jon Graham from the firm that developed the equipment, on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.

His brother, Shaun Lake, was seeing it for the first time.

“It’s a great feeling… to feel this tall… and to experience taking steps. It’s just incredible,” he said.

Bethany Has Got The Drugs She Needs To Live!

June 30, 2015

A fantastic update on this, readers:

 I have some great news! Bethany has been funded for her medication. We went to pick it up last Monday and the relief is amazing!

After all this Bethany finally has the medication she needs. And it looks like the petition has even helped the NHS look again at it’s policy around the length of time a funding policy agreement between them and NICE takes. We ended up getting the drugs via a critical illness policy.

I want to thank absolutely everyone that signed this petition and supported us. It has made the world of difference.

It’s been a long journey – but finally we are starting to look towards the future. And it’s a future where Bethany can start to feel better and we can enjoy our time as a family together.

It feels like a miracle.

I’ve written the full story for the Huffington Post – which you can read here.

Thank you again from the entire Henry Family!

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