Use a manual wheelchair? Maybe you’re the reason it’s been a good year for bicycle shops in my town. These usual bi-wheel tinkerers are stepping out of their comfort zones (I think it’s because they’re typically young, liberal, open minded folk) and helping wheelchair-users in mechanical-related binds. Hey, wheelchair repair places aren’t the only place you can turn to.
I first heard about a bicycle shop coming to the rescue six months ago when a German woman, a paraplegic handcycler, who was here for a race, arrived at the airport to find a major part on her handcycle cracked, rendering the entire handcycle unusable. She could get apart, but the only one was in Germany and wouldn’t get here in time. So what did she do instead? She called a local bike shop, Free Wheel, to see if they could help, and they absolutely did.
One of their main repairman made a mold of the cracked part and amazingly made a brand new part from her from scratch. He saved the say, and she was able to compete in time. This type of service would be unheard of at any wheelchair repair place. People going out of their way to help you seems to be falling to the wayside, when I heard this story it totally warmed my heart.
And today, I heard of another cool incident. Gabe Roderick, a 20 year old C5-6 quadriplegic, was injured four years ago. When he was injured, he decided to go with a manual chair and got power-assist rims. A wise choice. The only problem was that he bought these rims from NextMobility, a company that went bankrupt a few years ago (and was sold and resold to various companies).
When his rims started going a few weeks ago (they no longer would take a charge and two of the spokes were broke), he called the insurance company to get his chair fixed. He was told since the company who made his chair no longer existed, his insurance would no longer be able to repair it. Pretty insane stuff. So when he was stuck with a chair that nobody was willing to fix, his dad decided to call the same bike shop the German lady went to. They fixed the spokes for only $30.00 (Gabe is still working on finding a fix for his batteries).
I love that bike shops are coming to the rescue like this. They don’t seem to be afraid of liability (such a refreshing thing). And more than anything, I love that wheelchair repair shops don’t to have a monopoly over us anymore. A rare commodity in the disability world indeed.
Has a bicycle shop come to the rescue for you?