'I'm a cyclist': SoBi adds trike to help people enjoy the freedom of biking

Adding a trike to its stable of options is a great way to help older riders or those with balance issues feel confident when cycling, said Bike Share general manager Chelsea Cox.

Phil Beauchamp said riding the trike was easy and fun

Phil Beauchamp tries out the new trike from the Everyone Rides Initiative during a picnic at Gage Park Friday. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Phil Beauchamp pedaled down the path at Gage Park Friday with a beaming smile on his face.

Before that morning he hadn't been behind the handlebars of a bicycle in a long time, but thanks to the first-ever shared trike from SoBi's  Everyone Rides Initiative, getting back in the saddle was —well — like riding a bike.

"It's fun," Beauchamp said, adding the trike's three wheels make it more stable.

The steering is a bit different than your typical two-wheeled bike, but Beauchamp said even though its "a little bit more tricky" you just have to remember to turn slowly.

"I could have ridden around the whole park!" he said. "Well, with breaks."

The trike is a great option for people who struggle with balance. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Everyone Rides is the equity-focused branch of Hamilton Bike Share Inc.'s Sobi program.

Adding a trike to its stable of options is a great way to help older riders or those with balance issues feel confident when cycling, explained Bike Share general manager Chelsea Cox.

"We know riding bikes can feel very liberating, but it's wonderful to extend that to more people who haven't been able to access the system so far."

The trike part of the adaptive bike share pilot. It's a first, but Cox said the organization is looking to add more and different types of transports, from e-bikes to cargo bikes so it can reach even more people.

Theron Pierce, Thea Jones and Chelsea Cox say they're excited to offer a trike as a way to break down barriers between people and cycling. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

There are still some details to be sorted out about where the trike will be stored permanently and how it will work with the rest of the SoBi system, but for the time being it will be available for L'Arche Canada, a community where people with and without intellectual disabilities live together.

Paige McIsaac, community relations and volunteer coordinator with L'Arche, said riding can give people like Beacuhamp a sense of independence.

"People have been able to get on it very quickly, feel confident and go, whereas with a [two-wheel] bike we've seen people needing to have others help them balance on either side," she said.

Chris Slade pedals down the path with a smile on his face. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

McIsaac rode with Beauchamp for a bit Friday and said she could hear him laughing behind her.

"He just felt a lot of joy from it."

Everyone Rides hosts learn to ride events for two-wheeled bikes, and although it's fun to try something new, program manager Thea Jones said struggles with balance caused challenges.

"They never really got that sense of joy or feel the freedom of riding a bike and the wind on their body."

With a trike those barriers are gone and riders can discover the best part of biking.

When Beauchamp pedaled past, Jones said she heard him yell out "I'm a cyclist. I feel like a cyclist."

Ryan Ives tries out the trike. (Dan Taekema/CBC)