BikeTours ZAO Partners with the United Nations on 400 km Bike Ride
The United Nations Development Program in Belarus has held a week-long bicycle press-tour to promote inclusion of people with disabilities into society. BikeTours ZAO provided logistical and financial support for the tour, including route planning, logistics and on-the-road repairs.
Through towns and villages in the Grodno and Minsk regions, participants traveled more than 400 kilometers, from 27 August to 3 September. The bike ride was organized by UNDP in order to attract attention to the problem of socialization of families raising children with mental disabilities.
The participants in the press tour included UNDP staff in Belarus, representatives of the government, NGO’s, business, international and diplomatic communities in Belarus.
"The main goal was to ride through your country to meet people and feel what they feel, - says Sanaka Samarasinha, the head of the UN Development Program in Belarus.
"These people can be a part of society"
- We have come to visit, sit down with the people at their dinner table, and they told their stories. Sometimes the stories ripped our hearts. We visited the people who did not leave their homes for over 9 years. Many of their parents were dead. The problems of ordinary people fade in comparison with their problems.
We want to show you, these people can become part of society, if given the opportunity. And it should be this: look at Sasha Avdevich who traveled with us”.
Alexander Avdevich in his hand bike. This bike is hand operated, and conventional wheelchair is transported in the back.
Alexander Avdevich is a well known Belarusian cyclist who rode his handbike 4000 kilometers to Portugal. He also joined the bike ride from Grodno to Minsk.
"I am a person who moved in a wheelchair throughout the 400 kilometers and had not experienced difficulties in order to get a wheelchair or ask someone for help, - he says.
On the road: car driver can begin to "school" you
The journey took place during the annual bicycle race Bike4SDGs in support of people with mental disabilities in Belarus in accordance with the objectives of sustainable development.
"The purpose of the bike ride was to discuss the problems of such people. I think it was possible", - says John Roseman. He and the director of ZAOBiketours Tatyana Vitkovskaya joined the group in Skidel and went along with traffic police cars mainly on highways and secondary roads.
"It gives freedom of movement, - said the director of ZAO Biketours about this unusual format. - Usually on the highway you have to be very careful with cars. But here [with police escort] you feel safe and maybe even privileged".
According to Tatiana and John, the distance was a challenge for the participants, who are not accustomed to such transport.
"But if you start small , dosing your energy - this route does not seem too difficult. And, of course, if you are not experienced cyclist - you need to be prepared that the next day muscles may ache", - says Tatiana.
Bicycle makes you closer to nature and people
- Bicycles is an excellent tool to get closer to nature and people. You can reflect on inner questions, while keeping yourself in shape. I do not know if there is any other sport that could combine all this in itself.. And no, I was not tired during the ride. Sasha proposed: would you like to go from here to Gomel? Why not? After all, mind ove matter!"
Last year Belarus has signed and ratified the Convention for the Protection of the Rights of People with Disabilities. In the near future the realization of an Action Plan of the Convention will be announced, and the UNDP is ready to support Belarus in its implementation.