Blind cyclists set to make history in England

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Blind Cyclist

Blind and visually impaired cyclists are preparing for A Miracle of Science, a unique, world first challenge, presented by Life Cycle UK at Lloyd’s Amphitheatre, Bristol on Saturday, June 22, 2013 from 11am-3pm.

The free, family event features blind and visually impaired cyclists achieving the seemingly impossible feat of riding safely and independently around a cycle track.

This is made possible by the ‘miracles of science’- six specially adapted UltraBikes – created for Sound Foresight Technology, the developers of the UltraCane, a sophisticated electronic mobility aid for the blind.

The UltraBikes are fitted with specially designed ultrasonic sensors which detect obstacles in the cyclist’s path. The rider receives constant directional feedback of obstacles through vibrating buttons on each side of the handlebars, to allow safe navigation around the cycle track.

The UltraCane was the subject of the recent BBC series Miracles of Nature when presenter Richard Hammond showed how the navigational abilities of bats have been copied to give blind people a new found ability to detect and avoid obstacles.

Sound Foresight Technology worked with the programme makers to show how the same advanced ultrasound components, utilised so effectively in the UltraCane, can be fitted onto a bicycle.

Millions of viewers watched a gripping sequence as blind Bristol University student Dan Smith safely negotiated his way along a woodland cycle path on the first ever UltraBike, made especially for the programme.

The creation of six UltraBikes specifically for this event has been made possible through sponsorship and expertise provided by UltraCane, Comms Design, Quality Precision Electronics (QPE) and CPL Precision Engineering.

Bristol-based charity, Life Cycle UK is recognised nationally for the services and inclusive projects it runs to get more people cycling. Its Two’s Company project is a leading provider of tandem cycling for blind and visually impaired adults and children in the local area allowing them to experience supported group tandem rides for free.

Heather Pugh of Two’s Company said, “We are thrilled at the opportunity this event presents for blind and visually impaired people to experience a new sense of freedom and safety and enjoy the exhilarating experience of cycling – independently.”

“For some this will be the very first time they ride a bike, whilst others may be coming to rediscover a cycling experience they gave up when their sight failed. It also provides a fantastic opportunity to raise sponsorship to support Two’s Company’s work. Whether you are a participant or a witness, this will be an amazing scientific and sporting achievement.”

Those that wish to take part in the Miracle of Science challenge need to pre-register their interest in advance. To register, obtain further information and sponsorship forms, emailtandemrides@lifecycleuk.org.uk or call 0117 353 4580.

The city’s heritage waterfront location provides the perfect viewing area for supporters to cheer on the riders in the first cycling spectacular of its kind.

During the day blind riders and non-riders can try out the UltraCane at the stand located next to the registration point and to have their questions answered by specialists in the function and use of this advanced mobility aid. There will also be opportunities to try a tandem ride with an experienced front rider, courtesy of Two’s Company.

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