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October 11, 2023

Grant amount: £25,000

Wheels for Wellbeing

  • Grant programme: Active Lives
  • Region: London

Towards the cost of Wheels for Wellbeing Inclusive Cycling in Schools

About the organisation

Founded in 2007, Wheels for Wellbeing is a Disabled People’s User-Led Organisation (DPULO) and our work is shaped by the lived experience of Disabled people.  Using our fleet of 300+ cycles (trikes, handcycles, recumbents, tandems, side by sides etc) and a range of straps, grip aids, saddles, pedals and toe clips, we are determined to show that with the right support, equipment and environment anyone can enjoy cycling.

We run inclusive cycling sessions weekly at three fixed venues in South London (Croydon Arena, Herne Hill Velodrome and the Ladywell Centre) all year round.  Subject to appropriate funding, we run additional sessions, in line with demand, including:

  • Dare to Ride a programme of led rides in parks and quiet roads for groups who want to cycle outside the safer confines of our hubs to develop confidence and road safety skills.
  • Inclusive Cycling Discovery sessions provided at our hubs or by transporting cycles to other venues, for organisations whose beneficiaries struggle to attend our open sessions and prefer dedicated support.
  • Young Wheels cycling sessions run every Sunday at Croydon Arena, where disabled children and young people, and their families have fun cycling together.

These sessions are a vital building block in supporting over 800 Disabled people each year to enjoy the benefits of cycling.  Our service is unique in South London and we ensure that our services are accessible to everyone who wishes to use them, regardless of impairment, but also regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, etc. We are open to anyone who experiences barriers to cycling, whatever the reason, and we have the experience and equipment to find solutions to any issue which impacts on a person’s ability to enjoy cycling.

Wheels for Wellbeing has also become the campaigning voice of Disabled cyclists. We work proactively with local and national Government and other bodies, to influence design and policy decisions and increase equality for Disabled people who wish to cycle for transport, leisure or exercise.

Organisation’s objectives:

Wheels for Wellbeing exists to enhance Disabled people’s lives by removing the physical, societal and attitudinal barriers to cycling, ensuring that anyone can access the physical, emotional and social benefits that it brings.  Our aim is that more disabled people in the UK will cycle for everyday journeys – transport, leisure or exercise – and cycle routes will be inclusive and accessible. Our work will transform attitudes to disability and ensure a healthier population, resulting in more people having the option to choose active travel modes as an alternative to cars more often, making streets safer and improving air quality.

About the project

Wheels for Wellbeing Inclusive Cycling in Schools

This work builds on our partnership with The Bikeability Trust to ensure that no disabled child in mainstream school is excluded from their annual training programme for year 6 students.  It is a sad fact that all too frequently disabled children miss out on such activities as they are unable to ride a traditional bicycle and are not aware of or do not have access to an alternative cycle, such as we can provide.  The Department for Transport in 2019/20 reported that 50% of primary school children had participated in Bikeability training but that figure for children with special educational needs and disabilities was only 1.3%.

Funding from the Peter Harrison Foundation has been used to employ a Schools Liaison Officer who started in March 2024.    We are targeting mainstream and SEND schools in Lambeth, Southwark, Croydon and Lewisham to offer our expertise to assess and support disabled children to find a cycle from our fleet of specialist cycles and equipment.  We are offering taster sessions that offer disabled children the opportunity to explore cycling and develop their skills and confidence.  This project will enable us to help schools keep the children safe and healthy by developing core skills including navigation/sense of direction, steering, braking, pedalling, and offering gentle physical exercise to increase fitness and mobility.

This project will reduce the exclusion and isolation of Disabled children who attend mainstream schools.  For many, cycling presents an opportunity to increase their independence in a society which promotes dependence for Disabled people from an early age. For example, Disabled children are often transported to school in taxis, rather than being supported to use public transport, walk, wheel or cycle. This reinforces attitudes which restrict their independence in later life. As a result, physical inactivity becomes embedded, exacerbating the effects of existing health conditions or lack of mobility and leading to high rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems and incidences of stroke, resulting in premature mortality and multiple health inequalities.

Impact of PHF’s support

Our aim is to overcome systemic barriers for 45 Disabled children and influence the provision of Bikeability training in schools to ensure no child is excluded from the training scheme due to their Disability. So far we have engaged with Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators in all schools across Lambeth and Southwark, and many in Lewisham and Croydon. Whilst we are still at a very early stage, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.  One SEND school has booked their own Bikeability training and 6 disabled children have participated in Bikeability training at mainstream schools using cycles provided by us.  In June and July we will deliver 3 cycling discovery sessions in Lambeth schools, and a 4th session for visually impaired children at Herne Hill Velodrome – these sessions will reach 32 participants. We are also joining Lambeth’s Bike the Borough activities which concludes in a joint ride on 16th July when schools will support their students to ride to the Kia Oval in Kennington.  We will provide cycles and support for 10 disabled students and support them in a feeder ride to the event so they can join in the fun on the day.

Our work with schools will continue over this year in order to further increase the numbers of disabled students participating in Bikeability provision and other cycling opportunities.  This has potential for greater long term impact on participants’ lives based on research that shows that students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance and classroom behaviours.

How does your organisation exemplify PHF’s values?


Our experience, networks, and reputation are growing, evidenced by increased levels of requests for our expertise, and we are building a bank of free resources which we share widely.  We work to ensure the voice of Disabled cyclists is central to developing policy and practice using our long established relationships with local and national Government and other bodies which influence multi-modal transport infrastructure.  We have had direct impact on Cycle Design Guidance across the UK (eg: LTN1/20) and publish on our website The Guide to Inclusive Cycling which uses our learning to promote improvements to cycling infrastructure and support for Disabled people to participate in active travel opportunities.


We are entrepreneurial in deployment of our resources to support Disabled people to cycle.  In 2020 we swiftly improvised a cycle loan scheme so that some of our Disabled participants could remain physically active during lockdown. This resulted in a pilot called Wheels4Me offering our equipment for hire to meet the needs of local disabled people, enabling them to cycle outside of our hub sessions. Using that experience and with support from partners this year we have launched a free cycle loan scheme called Wheels4MeLondon. In collaboration with Sustrans, and Peddle My Wheels, funded by the Motability Foundation, the scheme offers free cycles on loan for up to one month which now reaches disabled cyclists across London.


Wheels for Wellbeing has become the campaigning voice of Disabled cyclists nationally. We are working with active travel organisations, Disability groups, Local Authorities and Government bodies, advocating for the implementation of inclusive active travel measures and removal of systemic barriers. We represent the views of Disabled cyclists using our own lived experience but also regularly undertaking a national survey of Disabled cyclists, to inform our work.  We have also created and continue to support two advocacy networks with an active membership across the UK, which increase representation and grow the voice of Disabled cyclists nationally.


We aim to transform attitudes to disability and ensure a healthier population, resulting in more people having the option to choose active travel modes as an alternative to cars more often, making streets safer and improving air quality.    Cycling more often will help people living with disabilities or long term health conditions to address issues such as loss of muscle strength, increased stiffness, pain, anxiety, arising from lack of activity, with potential to reduce reliance on health and support services and increase economic activity. Our impact supports environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Watch this video by Active Travel England which features one of the Wheels for Wellbeing instructors and participants and shows the profound joy that cycling can bring