Bikeability training: Sarah and Sadie Stoddard

Testimonial | November 2019

Some of you will remember Sarah Storey, the Paralympic cyclist whose major achievements have earned her several gold medals and a Dame title. Well schoolgirl Sadie Stoddard could be going in the same direction. 

Her mother Sarah explains her daughter’s amazing cycling journey and the professional support our cycling team provided to the Winnersh Primary School pupil starting her Bikeability Level 2 training, paid for from Wokingham Borough Council's Bikeability grant

Sarah's story in her own words: 

My daughter Sadie was excited to hear that her school had a Bikeability course coming up. We had recently purchased a new bike for her and she was enjoying going out and about on it.  

We received detailed information about the expectations of the course and what the children would need to do in order to pass. At this point, we realised that things may not be as simple and easy for Sadie to pass everything expected.

Sadie proves there's no barriers to learning to cycle

One of the minimum requirements to pass the Bikeability course is to signal with one hand whilst turning and subsequently repeat with the other side. This would mean removing a hand from the bike. Sounds easy but it is slightly tricky if you only have one hand! 

Sadie, now 11, was born with an upper limb difference. She is missing part of her lower right arm and hand. This really hasn’t held Sadie back at all. She adapts amazingly to all situations and anything life throws at her. She loves a challenge and works hard to achieve everything. The cliches are so true – ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. 

However, occasionally something crops up that appears a bit tricky. As a result, we have to identify how Sadie can accomplish something that is set out for a person with two hands. 

The bike is set up with a great attachment. Essentially, this is a socket that is attached to the handlebars which Sadie slots her arm into, to provide balance and steering control. This works amazingly but isn’t safe for Sadie to remove whilst cycling.  

In light of this, we decided to contact the Bikeability team and find out if they could offer advice or ideas so Sadie could go ahead and complete this course. Not doing it was certainly not an option, but we knew road safety is paramount and we needed to find a way for Sadie to achieve the minimum requirements to pass. 

The school kindly put me in touch with a man called Clive Eve [UK Contract Manager for TTC]. Within seconds of talking things through, the words 'solution' and 'inclusive' were used.

Sadie with TTC cycling expert Clive Eve

Clive explained his passion for inclusivity and how important it is to him that everyone has the same opportunities. This view is really important and so refreshing to families who may have to overcome different situations. To have a company ready to support and help them with their journey with positivity is invaluable.  

Clive sent over information about a wireless bike helmet that lights up at the back and signals for the cyclist. This is operated by a smaller controller that is attached to the handlebars. The bike helmet looks incredibly cool and Sadie was proud to wear it. She left the house feeling very confident heading into her first day of the Bikeability course. 

Sadie had to learn all the road positions and demonstrate awareness of her surroundings by looking around. She also had to maintain balance and ride with competency, whilst controlling the device on her handlebars.  

It was quite a lot to think about but it enabled her to perform the turning tasks safely by indicating via the helmet instead of her arm. A fantastic solution! 

Huge thanks to TTC for supporting us on this journey! Most importantly I will let Sadie share her perception of the experience with you...

Proud mum Sarah contacted Clive for help

Sadie's story in her own words: 

Bikeability has been an exciting adventure! When I first found out I was excited but a bit nervous (after what we read what I had to do). The only struggle was signalling.  

As I have an arm attachment (which my arm slides into) it would be difficult to take it out and put it back in whilst maintaining control of the bike. So, thanks to my Mum who got in contact with one of the TTC staff [Clive].  

They suggested a special helmet which had lights on the back and indicators a bit like a car. On my bike was a wireless button and I could press left or right and it would signal! Also, it looked really smart!  

The staff were really nice and I felt confident by the end of it. But best of all, I passed!

Clive explains teamwork can change lives:

Once I’d spoken to Sadie’s mum Sarah, we understood the challenge she was facing and, using our experience and industry knowledge, came up with a way that enabled her daughter to fulfil her potential using a clever piece of technology.

We are passionate about making sure that every child has the opportunity to learn to ride a bike and receive training that makes them safer on our streets and roads.

This means making courses ‘inclusive’ as we understand that everyone’s situation is different and offer lots of positive solutions to potential challenges this starts from the course information and the way our instructors are trained through to the actual delivery of Bikeability where our staff often go above and beyond to help everyone taking part.

Clive's support offers new hope to Sadie and Sarah

Sadie's journey doesn't stop here – the schoolgirl is joining a cycling club and may soon follow in the footsteps of Paralympian Sarah, who was born without a functioning left hand. Sadie, her mother and other members of her family have been asked to become ambassadors for the Bikeability Trust, where they will help spread the importance of giving children access to the best possible cycle training, help, advice and support.

Jill Bissell from the council's My Journey Wokingham team said:

Sadie was one of 56 children in Year 6 at Winnersh Primary School who were trained on Bikeability Level 1 and 2 courses this term. The courses were paid for from Wokingham Borough Council’s Bikeability grant. Thanks to annual Bikeability grants from the Department for Transport, Wokingham council now offer Bikeability training at all of the borough’s primary and junior schools, 2 special schools (and some secondary schools).

The school-based Bikeability courses (run by TTC Cycling)  aim to include as many children as possible, regardless of disability or special/additional needs. In addition to these, the My Journey Wokingham team at Wokingham Borough Council run: Bikeability holiday courses for children with autism and additional needs, Bikeability Learn to Ride sessions for children who are struggling to ride a pedal bike and Inclusive Cycling sessions for adults with physical or learning disabilities.

Cycling for all ages

We believe everyone should have the opportunity to learn to ride and provide solutions to those children and adults who require more support and guidance than others. We deliver Bikeability training, which has 3 levels, in schools and adult cycling courses throughout the year.

Our team of professional instructors help to develop better, safer cycling habits by training people on theory and practical exercises that ensure they have good balance and an understanding of independent travel on our streets and roads.

*The bike was adapted by Isla Bikes and the wireless helmet was supplied by Halfords.

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