Trinity College Dublin has installed disabled bicycle parking facilities, the first college in Ireland to do so.
The spaces, which allow for wider, hand-operated tricycles, as well as regular bikes, are clearly signposted, step-free and located next to a ramp.
Trinity College's director of disability services, Declan Treanor, welcomed anyone with a disability to park their bike in the spot, even if the university is not their destination.
Opened on Monday, the disabled parking bay, located next to the Library Square, is the first of four planned spots, with two more due to open before September.
The fourth accessible parking facility is scheduled to open at the St James's Cancer Institute before the end of the year.
“If you have any kind of non-standard bicycle it can be very difficult for people to park up,” said Mr Treanor. He added while Trinity students and lecturers with disabilities can benefit from the installation, he also hopes the university will be seen as a “prototype” for wider society. “The aim is to show people that this is possible. Hopefully people will see this as an example and follow our example,” he said.
In the 2017/18 academic year, 8.6 per cent of students were registered with the Trinity Disability Service. Although the actual figure is believed to be higher, 2.9 per cent of Trinity staff declared a disability.
"Disabled cycle parking is extremely important. Loads of disabled people can cycle, but unless you can park at your destination, you cannot attend your meeting or appointment," said Isabelle Clement, director of London-based charity Wheels for Wellbeing, which aims to promote the idea that cycling is possible for a large proportion of people with disabilities.
“It’s something that has not been thought of and so it has not been provided for so far,” said Ms Clement, who rides a three-wheeled handcycle.
Finding a space for her handcycle is a matter of “pot-luck”, she said, as it will only fit on the end cycle spaces, which are very often taken. “It means you may have to choose not to cycle and to drive instead,” she said.
Monitoring and policing
A disabled bike space must be “dedicated and reserved” and wide enough for a tricycle, she said, adding that two-wheeled bikes could be parked there, so long as the cyclist is disabled. Monitoring and policing will be important to stop non-disabled cyclists from abusing the spots, she said.
“It is well-understood that disabled drivers need to park near their destination,” she said, adding Trinity’s move into disabled cycle parking is “a very exciting first”.
When on her bike, nobody would know Clodagh Colleran (42) has a progressive and degenerative disability. Born with hip dysplasia that went undiagnosed for too long, walking can be difficult. However, a bike saddle suits her biomechanics, as she can maintain a straight spine.
“Cycling opened up the city for me,” said Ms Colleran, who commutes by bike to work in Trinity and is on the Healthy Trinity: Smarter Travel Committee. “It disguises my limp, prolonged the life of my hip and helps me maintain a healthy weight, all things that are hugely important for my health and well-being,”
Because she rides a regular bicycle, Ms Colleran can park it in standard facilities. However, these are often too full or too far away from her destination. “Parking is a key thing for all cyclists, but for me, I need to be reasonably close to the things I want to do,” said Ms Colleran, adding that implementing more cycle parking across the city “is good for cyclists of all abilities and good for business.”
Dublin City Council's chief executive Owen Keegan, said the onus is now on the public body to implement better on-street bike parking. "There is an enormous challenge in making space available."
He said sustainable modes of travel must be available to all, so there must be places throughout the city for people with disabilities to park their bicycles.