Advocates Concerned for Disability Access at Orange County Annual Bike Rally

Press Release

Advocates Concerned for Disability Access at Orange County Annual Bike Rally

Disabled cyclist on the special handbike bicycle

(Orange County, CA) - May is National Bike Month, an annual celebration of cycling and the many benefits it brings to public health, mental wellness, and the environment. As Orange County prepares for its annual bike rally, cyclists with disabilities are wondering if they will get to participate. The rally is organized by OCTA, (the Orange County Transportation Authority), the entity that oversees the county’s public transportation system. This year’s rally is a 4-mile ride from the Orange Metrolink Station to OCTA headquarters, where there will be speakers, snacks, and raffle prizes.

“I would really like to ride in the bike rally with everyone else, but I don’t know if I will be able to,” says Tina Bui, a cyclist with a disability. Bui uses an adaptive cycle, a type of cycle that is designed to provide better balance and stability to people who, like her, cannot safely ride a traditional bicycle because of age or a disability. Bui uses OC ACCESS (the county’s paratransit system) and needs it to transport her and her cycle to the rally location so she can participate. But OCTA has strict rules about what it allows on paratransit vehicles, and it has not allowed cycles on board in the past. Bui asked OCTA for permission to bring her cycle onto OC ACCESS to attend the bike rally, but has yet to receive a response. With the rally around the corner, she is pessimistic that she will be allowed to participate. “It's sad for me. There aren't many bike events that I can participate in and this one sounds fun. But because I can't transport my bike, I can't participate.”

Doug Steckman, another Orange County adaptive cyclist, is facing the same problem. “It’s very frustrating,” says Steckman, an avid cyclist who switched from a traditional bike to an adaptive cycle when he started having balance issues from a medical condition. “I bought a foldable bike specifically because it can fit onto OC ACCESS. But OCTA won’t let me bring my bike on board because their policy says they don’t have to.” Steckman asked OCTA for permission to bring his cycle on paratransit to attend the bike rally but, like Bui, has yet to hear back. “I feel like I need a plan for if they say yes and if they say no.”

This is not the first time paratransit riders have asked OCTA to bring adaptive cycles on board. Sue Lau, a member of OCTA’s Accessible Transit Advisory Committee, has been trying to get bikes on board paratransit for years. “People with disabilities want to enjoy the outdoors and live healthier lives, just like other transit users,” says Lau. She wants to get an adaptive cycle but worries about not being able to bring it on board OC ACCESS, her primary mode of transportation. That is why she wants OCTA to change its policy against adaptive cycles. “I believe in OCTA’s mission to ‘keep Orange County moving.’” She plans to join the bike rally by riding her scooter on the sidewalk next to the cyclists.

“This is an equity issue,” says Zeenat Hassan, a senior attorney at Disability Rights California. “OCTA encourages cyclists to bring their bikes onto Metro and the bus to cycle all across the county. But they don’t let disabled people bring their cycles onto paratransit. It’s exclusion.”

Bui says that OCTA’s policy against adaptive cycles keeps her isolated from the biking community. “I don't get to participate in many bike events because of my physicality. This year’s rally is very short and sounds like something I can physically do. But now I can't because I can't transport my cycle there."

“I hope OCTA starts letting bikes on board paratransit,” says Steckman. “There are so many great places to ride a bike in Orange County and so many cycling groups to ride with. It would be a shame for cyclists with disabilities to miss out because of OCTA.”

Media Contacts

Melody Pomraning
Communications Director
Disability Rights California


Disability Rights California (DRC) – Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to defend, advance, and strengthen the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities.