Bike Travel for People Who Are Blind

Oct 14th, 2019

Briana Cohen gave over 70 people, including those who can’t see, the gift of bicycle travel with Fearless Tandem. It all came to fruition after Briana won the Greg Siple Award for Young Adult Bike Travel. The award helps young adults get in the saddle and out on the road by providing the skills and the gear needed for a lifetime of bicycle travel adventure. In exchange, the winners perform an outreach project that will inspire youth and/or young adults in marginalized communities to travel by bike.

bike touring travel blind
Briana worked with the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to make her project a reality.
Ali Mae

The award was created seven years ago, with support and urging from Adventure Cycling members and the bike industry, to encourage more young people travel by bike. As a recipient, Briana, 23, of Austin, Texas, received a Co-op Cycles touring bicycle, camping gear from Big Agnes, panniers from Arkel, Bedrock Sandals, a voucher, and a travel stipend to get to and from her Intro to Road Touring course.

bike touring travel blind intro to road touring adventure cycling oregon
Briana received a new bike and bike touring gear and gained valuable skills on the Intro to Road Touring course in Oregon.
Heather Andersen

Briana had this to say about the Intro to Road Touring course:

I enjoyed the stunning scenic routes and the endless bursts of nature. I was in awe– every mile was an explosion of green, lush trees. I enjoyed riding with some wonderful folks who were all discovering the freedom of bike touring and how we could "just keep going," as one person said on the last night. Whenever I’m on a bike, I find I am able to meet and connect with good-natured, fun, and present people. At the end of the week, there was a uniting commonality among the group which was that we were all individuals with an affinity for bicycle travel and taking in the moments. Other enjoyable aspects were the long stretches of no cars on the road, friendly tailwinds and park hosts, steady sunshine and breezes, the simpleness of having everything on my bike, the refreshing river at Salmonberry County Park, the gratification of reaching high peaks like Cape Perpetua and Alsea Falls, and the bits and stories the group shared during the course.  

bike touring travel blind
Briana gave people who are blind and visually impaired the gift of bike travel.
Ali Mae

Briana’s outreach project was a workshop and bike ride for students at the Texas School for the Blind. 

Students learned about tandem bikes basics, touring styles, cycling resources, parks and trails, and the principles of Leave No Trace. They shared their favorite memories spending time outside and also heard stories from a blind athlete and partner who discussed linking up with sighted guides to explore, stay in shape, and race tandems with Paracycling. They got to take home hammocks, re-usable water bottles, t-shirts, wooden camping spoons, Adventure Cycling memberships, stylish socks, granola bars, and other giveaways that both national and local businesses donated. It was awesome that I got to receive all the awesome gear through the Greg Siple Award, so I wanted them to receive prizes too. Afterwards, we joined with the Lend Your Legs ride and had the students pair with cyclists on tandem bicycles to ride. Over 70 people joined for the ride! It was so cool to have such a large group come together and you could tell that bike travel is accessible to anyone. Someone even sent me a direct message on Instagram saying he and his partner had a tandem we could use– and they brought it so another student could ride. 

bike touring travel blind
Over 70 people participated in the workshop and ride.
Ali Mae

The 2020 application for the Greg Siple Award is open November 1 through December 31 to people ages 18 – 30 years old with an interest in bike travel. Four winners get to take an Adventure Cycling educational course and are gifted the gear they need to get on the road. In exchange, they perform an outreach project to people in marginalized communities such as but not limited to women, LBGTQI people, people of color, indigenous people, refugees, people with disabilities. Sponsors of the Greg Siple Award include New Belgium BrewingSurly BikesBikeFlights.comBig AgnesArkel, and Bedrock Sandals.

Find out more about Briana’s outreach project at this link.