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Springfield, MO — The Springfield-Greene County Park Board’s Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park is now home to two accessible tandem bicycles designed for individuals with disabilities.
The bikes were donated to the Park Board by Friends of Abilities First, the 501c.3 of Springfield-based Abilities First, which works to create inclusive opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to live, learn, work, and play in our community.
The bikes will be unveiled and ready for use at a brief ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, Oct. 16, 4 p.m., near the Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park gift shop. The “ribbon” will be cut by cyclists. The public is invited to attend and try the bikes, and accessible parking is nearby. In case of rain, the event will be held in the big red barn.
After the ceremony, the bikes are available to check out, at no charge, for use at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park, 3825 W. Farm Road 146, and on the Wilson's Creek Greenway, which runs through the park. The park is open Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., closed Mondays.
“This is an incredible opportunity for individuals with disabilities, along with their family and friends, to experience the joy of cycling, the park, and the Ozark Greenways trail” said Sheila Nichols, Development Manager with Abilities First.
The first, the Duet, is a wheelchair-bicycle tandem. This two-person bike includes an adjustable wheelchair front seat, powered from behind by a 7-speed mountain bike, with electric pedal assist. The wheelchair seat can be used by anyone ranging 20 to 275 lbs., and is ideal for individuals who use wheelchairs or have difficulty walking, including elderly adults.
The second bike, the Buddy Bike, is similar to a conventional tandem, with two seats, two handlebars and two sets of pedals. This bike places a smaller rider in front, with the rear rider powering the pedals and controlling the steering through an oversized handlebar. The front rider may pedal or rest their feet on pegs. This bike is ideal for children or smaller adults who are able to balance on a bike seat.
Cyrus Taylor, Accessible Recreation Supervisor for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, said individuals involved in the Miracle League and other accessible programs are very excited about the new bikes.
“We are very thankful that Friends of Abilities First donated these accessible bikes,” said Taylor. “We have a strong cycling presence within the Ozarks and these bikes help to open up cycling to everyone, which is what it’s all about.”
Cyclists must sign a waiver, and are not allowed to remove the bikes from the park or the Wilson’s Creek Greenway. Helmets are required and provided. Bikes are available only during park hours, Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., closed Mondays.
Friends of Abilities First also donated a secure storage unit to keep the bikes at the Farm Park.
For more information about Friends of Abilities First, contact Sheila Nichols, Development Manager for Abilities First, at 417-773-2033.
For more information about bike availability, contact Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park at 417-837-5949, or Jenny Fillmer Edwards, Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, at 417-224-5510 (mobile).