I learned how to ride a regular two-wheel bike as a kid, but ditching the training wheels hasn’t been as easy for my son, who has autism. The balance, fine motor, gross motor, and attention skills required to pedal, steer and brake—without falling over—have been a challenge to master, so I was thrilled when his Kelowna elementary school offered to set him up with an adapted trike three years ago during a learn-to-ride week so that he could participate. He was pedalling circles around the schoolyard in no time.
In the intervening years, we’ve always managed to borrow an upright trike to use for the summer. It has two sturdy back wheels, an adjustable seat and handle bars, hand brakes, and a few gears should we ever attempt a pathway with a slight grade. In addition to riding in our neighbourhood, we’ve cycled on the wide, flat Mission Creek Greenway.
The only downside to being a family with three regular bikes and one giant trike is its size makes it a pain to transport. So I was excited to see that Kelowna Bike Rentals is lending out a variety of adaptive rides from a kiosk at the base of Knox Mountain this summer. The initiative is a collaboration between CRIS Adaptive Adventures, Elevation Outdoors and the City of Kelowna.
“The goal of Kelowna Bike Rentals is to create an inclusive and impactful operation that provides opportunities for everyone to find a bike that is suited for them—without charging a premium for specialized equipment,” says Danielle Hennig with CRIS Adaptive Adventures.
Indeed, the prices are fantastic and provide an incentive to get pedalling. A two-hour rental of either a standard or adaptive bike is $35, for example, a cost that lets families see if cycling on an adaptive bike gets the green light before they go all out and purchase their own wheels. You can also rent for four hours, a full day or overnight. Hennig calls the program a “social enterprise” and points out that proceeds from rentals help fund youth programming led by both organizations, such as a weekly after school cycling program.
Currently, most of Kelowna Bike Rentals’ adaptive bikes are adult sized, but they can make smaller adaptive bikes available for rental depending on the timing for the request. The kiosk also has kids’ tag-a-long bikes (that attach to and wheel behind a parents’ bike), and they can adapt the tandem recumbent bicycles to fit a smaller rider. Peruse and reserve their inventory online, and contact them with any special requests.
The rental kiosk’s location at the base of Knox provides easy access to the Okanagan Rail Trail and the waterfront walk, two favourite cycling destinations for families. We’ve been meaning to cycle part of the Okanagan Rail Trail, and being able to rent an upright trike for our son (to pedal next to our own bikes we haul from home) will make a family outing so much easier.