Collaborating with Disability Groups

Working with disability advocates and community groups, several NABSA members have launched adaptive cycling programs operating alongside their standard bikeshare services over the past few years. These programs open the bikeshare system to members of the population with varying abilities to operate a traditional two-wheel pedal bike. We spoke with three program managers to better understand the lessons learned and approach to how they work to provide more inclusive services to their communities.

NABSA members can also download an information sheet detailing start-up costs, cycle styles, and pricing from our Knowledge Share.

MoGo Detroit: Learning & Growing

Adaptive MoGo hosts Demo Days to introduce users to the equipment offered.

From the beginning of MoGo Detroit’s bikeshare program, there was the intention of including adaptive cycle options in their operations. MoGo worked with PEAC, a Detroit-area nonprofit dedicated to empowering individuals with disabilities through cycling, active transportation, and self-advocacy education.

“We wanted this to resemble our two-wheeled bikeshare system as much as possible,” Rory Lincoln told NABSA. As MoGo’s Director of Programming & Operations, Lincoln manages the Adaptive Cycling program. “With our two-wheeled system, we offer bikes and pass options for the cyclists of varying use cases and experience levels. Building our adaptive cycling program, we wanted to provide a similar pass structure while serving the widest variety of needs.”

MoGo relied on their partner PEAC’s decades of experience in selecting their cycles, and also collaborated with them to host community meetings and outreach through surveys to determine the program’s format. The cycles are available by reservation from Wheelhouse Detroit, a bike shop located along the Riverwalk, where some of Detroit’s most robust cycling infrastructure is located.

Their adaptive cycling program launched in May of 2018. After so much interest during the planning phase, collaborators were surprised to find initial ridership lower than anticipated. They discovered that users hesitated to book their first ride because they either didn’t understand adaptive cycling or didn’t know which cycle would best serve their needs.

To help ease the barrier for that first ride, MoGo and PEAC hosted free educational events to help get users comfortable trying the bikes, provide a personal fitting, and determine which style of cycle best suits their needs. MoGo credits this “Demo Day” setup as an important step in the adoption of their program, and has now built several events into their annual contract with PEAC. Holding this style of event is Lincoln’s biggest recommendation to those starting adaptive programs.

MoGo is looking toward the expansion of its adaptive program following the model of two-wheeled station-based bikeshare: moving into new service areas and providing more cycles in more places. “Right now, Adaptive MoGo is only available in one location, which limits accessibility,” said Lincoln. They are also looking at a potential drop off/pick up point model to allow for one-way trips.

Seattle: Leveraging Their Dockless Bike Pilot for Inclusivity

This spring, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) worked with another organization, Rooted in Rights, a part of Disability Rights Washington. Rooted in Rights led the production of an educational video on the impact of dockless bikes on the disabled community, which received a positive response and media coverage, spreading the message.

Following their dockless bike pilot, SDOT took what they learned to amend dockless bike regulations to better serve all community members. They looked at better regulating how bikes are parked, and expanded definition of mis-parked bike (e.g., left on private property) versus a “blocking bike,” which is obstructing the right of way. They also included the areas where a bike cannot be parked to the frontage zone next to a building – not necessarily blocking the right of way, but an important landmark to preserve for visually impaired people utilizing a cane.

They also included an adaptive component in the permit, as well. SDOT incentivized the providers to include adaptive cycles in their fleet, but also set aside a portion of the permit fees to include an adaptive component accessible to anyone. 

Using these fees, they partnered with Outdoors for All, a nonprofit with an established location housing over 200 adaptive cycles. They were able to provide free rentals all summer and expand service to seven days a week. They also planned ten pop up events in South Seattle communities, bringing cycles to underinvested areas with less access to the park where the main facility is housed. The program has already served over 100 riders this summer.

Oakland & Bay Wheels: City-Led Pilot Program

A recently-launched adaptive cycling pilot from Bay Wheels (formerly Ford Go Bike) was spearheaded by the City of Oakland. A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) with stakeholders from the City, the operator, and disability advocates spent over a year and a half cooperating to bring adaptive cycling into the area’s bikeshare program. The pilot launched this May and will run through November.

Working with their partner Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP), Bay Wheels sets up a pop-up rental shop for adaptive cycles two days a week. Users can reserve a cycle in advance or work with staff on site to determine what works best for their needs.

“Having the right stakeholders included in the process,” was key to setting up the pilot, said Anh Nguyen, DA Programs Division Manager for the City of Oakland. “It was really helpful to have the General Manager on the TAC to hear and bring back information and respond.”

Nguyen said that the pilot program is focused on providing an adaptive option for recreational cycling because it was the most in demand, but Oakland is looking at universal accessibility for bikeshare as a longterm goal for the program. They are also looking at options for how shared micromobility vehicles can better serve users with disabilities.


Resources and Information:

Adaptive Bikeshare Information Sheet (requires login)

Adaptive MoGo

Adaptive MoGo Brochure

SDOT & Outdoors for All Adaptive Bike Program

Bay Area Wheels Adaptive Cycling Pilot

BORP Oakland Pilot

Adaptive Biketown – Portland

Zagster operates adaptive cycles in 16 markets, including a mix hand cycles, side by side tandem, and trikes.