Program helps kids with disabilities ride bikes

January 13, 2011 10:08:46 AM PST
A north suburban father of a child with autism created a bicycle program that is giving children and young adults with disabilities the ability to learn how to ride a bike.

JoRide bicycle program is relatively new. But it has generated strong interests from riders, educators and families.

Steven Cohen's 11-year-old son Joey has tried to join his family on bike rides.

"He kept on kicking his feet and his shins on the bicycle," said Cohen, "so I tried to help him out and took some pedals off the bike. At first I tried wrapping his feet, taping his shoes. I got pedals, clipless shoes for his bike, and then I eventually took the pedals off altogether, but he kept still hitting his leg, so I took the entire crank of the bike, so all he could do was walk the bike."

JoRide just started seven months ago. Cohen brings pedalless, chainless bikes to different special education-recreation facilities around the Chicago area.

"Many kids want to participate," Cohen said. "It's 15 to 20 kids in a class with about 3 to 4 helpers.

"What this does is it gives the children the idea or adults an idea of how the bike feels, standing over the bike, the confidence of standing over the bike and then eventually walking the bike and then eventually gliding the bike, lifting their legs up and sitting and gliding, then after that pedaling."

The mission of this program is to help build a level of confidence and enhance the rider's control of their own body and space around them.

Wendy Rosen's son Jack has autism. He is 13 years old and has never ridden a bike until JoRide.

"I think that the ability for him to organize his body enough to maintain that balance without fear of falling, because he can put his feet down, I think that will help," said Wendy. "Along with other therapies like horseback riding it gives him a good sense of his body and what he needs to do control and balance."

Rider Becky likes it.

"It's just fun and also exercise," she said.

JoRide bicycles program is free, and if you want to learn more about it, go to

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