Sat, Dec 04, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Taiwanese tricycle allows physically challenged to cycle

‘FREEDOM’:The prototype was funded with a research grant from the Department of Industrial Technology and companies have expressed interest in mass-producing it

Staff Writer, with CNA

A government-funded research center based in central Taiwan is set to unveil the country’s first cycle especially designed for people with physical disabilities today, after which it will donate 10 prototypes to local charities.

The three-wheeled tricycle is powered not with the feet, but with the hands, and users can carry crutches or walking sticks on the bike, the Cycling and Health Tech Industry R&D Center said.

“When the bike is not in motion, the user can apply a safety brake to stop it from rolling away,” the Taichung-based center said in a statement.

“The bike can also go backward to allow greater flexibility in parking and general maneuverability,” it said.

The center created the cycle, named “Freedom,” to help people with disabilities take part in the increasingly popular pursuit of cycling.

“Although I am physically disabled, I actually also want to come out and enjoy the sunshine and the natural environment [by riding a bicycle],” said Chen Jen-hao, one of the first members of the public to road-test the Freedom.

“I think it would be great if such cycles could be widely available for rental at local tourist attractions,” he added.

In Taiwan, there are more than 1 million people with physical and mental disabilities.

The prototype, which the center said has passed safety tests, is the result of a one-year research project funded by the Ministry of Economic Affair’s Department of Industrial Technology with NT$10 million (US$330,000). Although companies have expressed interest, there is no project for mass production yet, the center said.

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