Advocates for Inclusive Tourism

Working Towards Making the World Accessible For All


Two wheels good, four wheels better!


Global Ballooning

In an interesting new development we see a sport created for people with a disability becoming popular with everyone. Increasing new technology is opening up opportunities for people with a disability to engage in a greater variety of sports and leisure pursuits. In the case of four wheel mountain bikes it is creating inclusive opportunities for people of all abilities to enjoy activities togther as a family or group of friends. The challenge now for venue operators and track designers is to ensure they incorporate enough double track courses in their designs and developments to cater for this growing market. People with a disability as not passive observers and represent a large market to the tourism industry. Clearly Scotland is recognising the value of attracting people with a disability in a wide range of leisure activities and further recognises the value of Accessible Tourism to the Scottish Ecomomy.

Scotland’s mountain biking hotspots – including trails in the Highlands, Dumfries & Galloway and the Borders – are attracting cyclists on four wheels as well as two, thanks to a specialised club.

Rough Riderz gravity biking club was formed in 2006 to help disabled and able-bodied mountain bikers participate in the UK's newest downhill mountain biking (MTB) scene, and promote it as an integrated sport nationwide.

Club members ride specially-designed four-wheeled mountain bikes, using gravity alone to propel themselves down purpose-built downhill MTB trails. By raising awareness, they hope to increase interest in the sport, creating a more vibrant and inclusive biking scene.

Originally designed for wheelchair users, ‘gravity’ bikes have no pedals and rely solely on the downhill gradient of trails to propel them along the off-road technical terrain associated with regular mountain bike riding.

Based in Preston, Rough Riderz club secretary Phil Hall has been travelling to Scotland to test as many trails as possible to find suitable venues for this innovative and accessible new sport. Locations at which they have ridden and tested on four wheels include Glentress and Innerleithen, Mabie Forest, Ae Forest, Laggan Wolftrax and Fort William.

Phil said:

“As a paraplegic downhill rider and huge extreme sports fan, I wanted to find a way for those with access needs to experience the thrill of downhill mountain biking. Riding on a gravity bike is such a great, fun sport, we quickly realised it should be available to all, and we have many able-bodied members now, too."

“We have always enjoyed visiting Scotland, which offers a network of the best downhill trails anywhere in the UK. We have had a really warm welcome and the chance to ride some of the best and most stunning venues in the country, with favourites including Ae, Laggan and Fort William."

“The club is currently involved in designing a practical and affordable new bike, intended to be easy to ride, service and repair. We are aiming for this to be ready to purchase by the end of the year.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

“It is fantastic to hear that Scottish mountain bike trails and tracks are attracting both four wheel as well as the traditional two-wheel bikers. Mountain biking in Scotland is an incredibly popular sport, largely due to the great terrain and scenery. These amazing gravity bikes ensure this extreme sport is more accessible and inclusive, opening up the experience of riding some of the most exciting mountain bike trails in the world up to many more people in Scotland."

“Our country has a global reputation for cycling and in the UK alone it is estimated that there are 11 million people who own a mountain bike. From cycling tours around the incredible Highlands to mountain biking in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, there is a huge opportunity for Scottish tourism."

“This interest also boosts the visitor economy locally, as hotels, restaurants and accommodation providers are all amongst businesses who can capitalise on the back of the sport’s popularity, often outwith the traditional tourist season.”

VisitScotland research shows that domestic visitors to Scotland who take part in mountain biking or cycling stay, on average, over two million nights and spend £109 million each year.
Such visitors will often stay at more remote and rural locations, generating income for smaller villages and towns not always visited on the traditional tourist trail. This has been demonstrated in Moray, where businesses in Tomintoul and Glenlivet have benefited directly from the opening of the mountain biking trails at the Glenlivet Estate, including during the traditionally quieter winter months.

Accessible tourism is valued at £1.5bn to the Scottish economy and its contribution to domestic tourism in Scotland has increased by 20% since 2009, demonstrating the huge potential economic benefits to hundreds of businesses and services across the country in catering for this market.

Currently, of the over 11 million disabled people in Britain, only around two million take a holiday because many find it just too difficult, so this is largely an untapped market.

Earlier this year, VisitScotland announced up to £29,000 in funding for two mountain biking events in the Scottish Borders this year. The TweedLove Enduro World Series event and the British

Mountain Bike Marathon Championships secured investment from EventScotland, the events team at VisitScotland, through its National Programme.

Anyone wanting to try gravity biking for themselves can book a taster day session with the Rough Riderz club. These days are currently hosted at the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, or Whinlatter Forest in Cumbria, with plans to extend the experience to other parts of the UK in the future. All the relevant details needed to book a session can be found at www.roughriderz.co.uk

More information on cycling in Scotland can be found here: http://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/activities/cycling/ and on mountain biking in Scotland here: http://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/activities/mountain-biking/


TravAbility was founded in 2007 by Bill Forrester and Deborah Davis.

Our mission is to be agents of change; to inspire people who have never traveled before to do so, and to inspire others to do more. To encourage all cultures of the world to see disability as an integral part of life, and to provide the motivation and tools to the tourism industry to allow them to create accessible environments that enable inclusion in an economically sustainable way.

We offer a range of services to tourism operators and Destination Marketing Boards to enable them to take advantage of the growing Accessible Tourism market. Our core approach is program oriented focusing on the product and service needs of people with a disability an developing a culture of innovation to attract this highly profitable and rapidly growing market:

  • Development of Access Statements
  • Product, service and program development
  • Development of "Soft Infrastructure" policies and procedures
  • Staff and Management Training
  • Marketing Services and Toolkits
  • Access information kits
  • Industry Presentations and Conference Keynotes and Capacity Building Workshops
  • Property Audits and Universal Design planning
  • Self Audit Tools
  • National/State/Regional Park Guides and Trail Maps
  • Diversity and Inclusion Strategy development
  • Disability Action Plans
  • New Project planning and Development
  • Stock Imagery through PhotoAbility
  • Accommodation listings through TravAbility Properties

For more information on how you can make your business more attractive to the traveler with a disability contact Bill or Deborah.