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‘Shared’ bicycles can now be rented in Belgium, accommodating people with disabilities

A wheelchair platform bike.
Photo: G-Sport Vlaanderen

The launch of a bike-sharing platform in Flanders, Belgium is enabling people with disabilities to rent adapted bicycles at an affordable price.

The GFIETST network, launched by G-Sport Vlaanderen, an organisation that promotes sport for people with a disability, has created an online map with about 120 rental points where several types of adapted or “shared” bicycles can be rented, anything from recumbent bikes to ones with a platform for wheelchairs that able-bodied people drive.

“There is a great demand for adapted bicycles from both individuals and organisations,” said 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.

The organisation is working together with cities, municipalities and facilities to map out locations where adapted bicycles can be rented, and is looking to increase the number of these rental outlets in the region.

G-Sport Vlaanderen has also created an advisory group to come up with ideas to facilitate businesses in setting up their own rental outlets for adapted bicycles and to establish a partnership with various existing bicycle rental companies to offer different types of adapted bikes.

A test case for the shared bicycle platform was run in Essen, in the province of Antwerp. The feedback from this test case, including problems that arose around insurance and maintenance, will be analyzed in order to develop a flawless program.

“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.

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