Deafness and Downs Syndrome have not kept 16-year-old Joshua Baldwin of Johnston from being an active, social boy who likes to meet people and do fun things.
But what did get in his way, for a while, was a lack of transportation. Baldwin knew how to ride a bike, but since he must communicate with his hands, he was unable to cycle around independently, or with a few friends, or even his Mom.
Now he can pedal literally alongside another rider—exploring his town, hanging with old friends and meeting new ones—thanks to an adapted two-rider tricycle purchased by his mother, Gretchen Baldwin.
The help of a townful of friends and supporters who made large and small donations, and in one case even collected 3,500 cans, helped Joshua get the $10,000 vehicle from All Abilities Cycles. The store, located in Jefferson, has been selling adaptive cycling equipment for eight years, its owner, John Brunow, told the Johnston Times.
“I do not design or manufacture cycles,” Brunow said. “I work to match riders with cycles and accessories which will allow them to cycle.”
Joshua’s bike is a Fun2Go double rider cycle, a sort of tandem bike but which has both riders sitting next to each other—both can look around at the scenery and, most important, see what is ahead of them. Two people pedal but only one at a time steers, which means that Joshua can use sign language to chat with his companion while the other person maintains control of the bike.
Now he can go to a park with a friend, or for ice cream, or for any of the other activities children enjoy, pretty much whenever he wants. Since the co-driver must pedal along with the driver, Joshua is participating in his transportation, not just being dependent on another person.
Joshua’s bike is only one of myriad adaptive bikes that accommodate all sorts of special needs.
“There are wonderful cycles available so almost everyone can go cycling,” Brunow said. “My oldest rider this year was 108 years old. Cycling can provide so much joy!”