Original post published on Blacklane Blog
The wind on your face, the silence of nature, the adrenaline of the speed, the landscape around. These might not be the feelings associated with a regular Blacklane ride, but they are with a bicycle ride.
Most of us learn to ride a bicycle in early childhood, and it then becomes a common means of transport in the city, a sport on the road, or a way to travel through the mountains. Easy to manage, affordable, and used worldwide.
However, most people might take those feelings for granted. They are not as universally accessible as you might think. There are people with blindness, low vision, and other disabilities that cannot ride a bike. Either they could never do it, or at one point they had to stop.
This is what happened to me: a few years ago I had to lock my bike and never hop on the saddle again.
With this idea in mind, NoisyVision and Artemisia e.V., two nonprofit organizations which support people with disabilities, decided to put together their efforts and resources to organize an Inclusive Tandem Ride.
Yes, tandem, those bikes with two saddles.
One driver, one passenger.
Hmm, this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Of course, where else should we look for drivers if not within Blacklane? As I described in a previous post, at Blacklane we care for the planet and for other people, so it was not a problem to find colleagues to volunteer to be drivers for a day.
Little by little, we are shaping the picture. We are just missing a bit of color.
To quote my previous post: “[Yellow] is my color, this is the color of the positive attitude, of the sun’s energy. This is the color for a more accessible world.” To offer people who can no longer enjoy a bike ride a way to do so, making it accessible, making it yellow, is a great way to express the meaning of the #YellowTheWorld campaign.
It is 11 a.m. Sunday morning. Sun not really shining, but luckily another wonderful Berlin summer’s day. Fifteen black and yellow tandems (what a coincidence) are lined up in front of the rental shop, with 10 more regular bikes ready to join the group and follow us. Drivers are wearing their black t-shirts, and passengers the yellow ones. Same design, inverted color, perfect match.
Within a few minutes, everyone was paired up and ready to go. A few instructions are given to ensure the safety along the route, which goes from Checkpoint Charlie to the entrance of Tiergarten.
A group photo and a loud shout: “One, two, three… Yellow The World!
Let’s make it possible, let’s make it accessible, let’s go!”
We had a police escort in front and behind our group of nearly thirty bicycles. All together for one cause. This is the meaning of inclusion. The staff of NoisyVision, Artemisia and the employees of Blacklane worked for several weeks to give everyone the chance to enjoy a day together, to enjoy a ride and experience those feelings others take for granted.
Once we entered the park, the immenseness of Tiergarten made us forget where we were. We enjoyed the birds, the trees, the grass, the water, and the perfectly timed rays of sun.
There was happiness, pride, humanity… there were people.
I am not sure if at one point someone swapped t-shirts, but I saw drivers wearing yellow ones. Whether it was a miracle or just a gesture of goodwill, I do not know. At the end of the ride I saw smiling faces and heard “let’s do it again!” several times.
Then it was time to rest, enjoy the picnic organized by Blacklane, drink some water, and let the sun dry our skin.
It was a great day.
Was it because for a day you stepped in the driver’s shoes, because you could enjoy a bike ride, because you met a new friend or helped an old one? Regardless the reason, mission accomplished.
It was just a perfect day.