Next year, bikers with disabilities will be able to cruise the Junior Johnson trail along with their able-bodied friends, said Tom Hoyne, president of the Columbia Valley Cycling Society (CVCS).
“The idea is for everybody to be able to go ride together,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is total inclusion.”
Thanks to a $21,000 grant from the Columbia Basin Trust, CVCS is upgrading a kilometre and a half of the Junior Johnson trail (a green trail that’s part of the Lake Lillian mountain biking trail network). The investments means the trail will be wider and smoother – at least for starters – and suitable for anyone using an accessible three or four wheeled bike.
“It’s happening right now. The construction build is going on out there,” he said. “We are hoping to have it put together by the end of October.”
The current construction is only the beginning of the work on accessible trails Mr. Hoyne hopes to see around the Valley.
Once the adapted section of Junior Johnson opens, the next steps will be inviting riders out and asking for their feedback. Then he anticipates retrofitting the rest of the Junior Johnson trail and envisions a network of trails that are open for everyone.
“Our goal is not to just have one small trail that is for adaptive,” he said. “Our goal is to have many kilometres of adaptive trails. We just need to start and figure out what that recipe is for how those trails work and then we’ll go forward… We’re going to continue to work and develop the trails that are in our area.”
Mr. Hoyne believes accessible biking has the potential to explode in popularity – much like accessible skiing has – and wants to make sure that everyone is welcome on the CVCS trails.
“I’m very much a person that believes in inclusiveness. It’s the right thing to do. I’ve got friends that are disabled, and I think that one of the biggest challenges for persons with disabilities is having avenues for physical fitness. It’s really important that we as a society provide everybody with an avenue for physical fitness, and this is just one of those avenues,” he said.
Everyone benefits when trail design takes accessibility into account, he said, adding that those with disabilities can ride with their friends and that the wider trails also offer more opportunities for youth, beginner riders and timid cruisers to get out for a pedal.
“Let’s start it and see where it goes,” he said.