Saturday, May 14, 2011

Everyone Rides in the Berkshires

A therapist jogs alongside during a test ride on a
recumbent trike along the scenic Cheshire Reservior.
The rain held off for a special event in far western Massachusetts today - the kickoff of the new Everyone Rides program, a community collaborative project which will make a fleet of adaptive bicycles available for people with disabilities to use free of charge on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail.

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is my favorite rail trail in Massachusetts, traveling 11 miles from Adams to Pittsfield, passing along the Cheshire Reservoir at the base of Mt. Greylock. The adaptive bikes were purchased with money raised from an annual inclusive trialthlon event called Farnum's Challenge. Two local disability organizations, Ad Lib and UCP of Berkshire County, along with the Berkshire Bike Path Council , Mass DOT, and DCR, have worked together to obtain the bikes and develop a plan to make them available for independent use.

At today's event, interested riders met with a therapist to be custom fit to the right bike - a process that is required as part of the program. Once you have been properly fit to the right bike (interchangable seating allows for more personalized options), you can call to make a reservation to ride. All inquiries and reservations can be made to Dawn Matthews of UCP at 413-442-1562  ext. 24 or via

The introductory array of new bikes on display today was chosen to help provide access to the trail for a wide variety of users including adults and children. Four adult bikes by AmTryke included a handcycle, a conventional trike, a recumbent trike, and a trike with assistive supports. There were also four trikes for small kids designed to meet various needs and abilities. A Duet wheelchair tandem will also join the fleet soon, allowing for a passive rider to enjoy the front ride while being pedaled by a driver behind. A new building along the rail trail owned by DCR will house the bikes and has space for future additions to the fleet.

Merle Ferber - an inspirational force for access
in the Berkshires.
Merle Ferber, longtime disability rights activist in the Berkshires, received an award today for her role in helping to develop the Farnum's Challenge event and carry forward the vision to create Everyone Rides. "There are so many people out there who want to help us," she told the crowd, "Now we have bikes in our own community we can use to ride our local rail trail. Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible, and don't forget to wear your bike helmet when you ride!"

This year's Farnum's Challenge will be held on July 24. Each team must have at least one member with a disability. To participate in this popular event and support adaptive cycling, contact Ad Lib Independent Living Center at 413-443-4338 or UCP at 413-442-1562.


Chauncey said...

It is great to see programs being offered in more and more locations. I have faith that this progarm will exceed its expectations.

Emily said...

The amount of new equipment available now is amazing. I love it!