A bike-sharing platform to promote renting shared bikes that have been adapted to people with a disability has been launched in Flanders, to give more people access to the otherwise expensive vehicle.
The #GFIETST network, launched by G-Sport Vlaanderen, an organisation that promotes sport for people with a disability, has created an online map with around 120 rental points where several types of adapted (shared) bicycles, from bikes with a wheelchair platform to recumbent bicycles, can be rented.
“There is a great demand for adapted bicycles from both individuals and organisations,” according to manager Nele Slabbinck of G-Sport Vlaanderen.
“Buying a bike yourself is often too expensive and research shows that the rental offer is still too limited. Moreover, there is no good overview of the rental points,” she added.
Now, the organisation is working together with cities, municipalities and facilities to map out the rental centres where adapted bicycles can be rented, and is looking to further build up a full network of adapted rental bikes in the region.
Broadening the network
G-Sport Vlaanderen has also set up a think tank to incentivise authorities and to help them set up their own rental outlet for adapted bicycles and to establish a partnership with various rental outlets to create a joint offer of different types of bicycles.
A test case for the shared bicycle platform was run in Essen, in the province of Antwerp, and the feedback from this test case – including issues that arose around insurances and maintenance – will be taken into account to convert the step-by-step plan into a concrete working instrument.
“For people with a disability, the shared bicycle network goes beyond the sporting aspect alone. It is also about mobility, tourism and welfare,” the organisation said.