• Home
  • /
  • Travel News
  • /
  • How a Community of Biker Chicks Helped Me Get Back in the Driver’s Seat

How a Community of Biker Chicks Helped Me Get Back in the Driver’s Seat

Discovering I could drive without the use of my legs was nothing short of a revelation. Before a car crash left me paralyzed from the chest down, I had no knowledge of the adaptations available to Disabled drivers until the moment the occupational therapist in spinal rehabilitation told me that it was, in fact, still possible for me to get behind the wheel.

A few days later, I transferred clumsily into a learner car, buckled my seatbelt, and placed one hand on a steering ball and the other around a “push-pull system.” I felt the vehicle edge forward as I pulled the hand controls gently towards me, even though my legs sat unresponsive in the footwell. My life, which had so far been unrecognizable in those early days of recovery, felt like it was back in my control.

Image may contain Helmet Crash Helmet Motorcycle Transportation Vehicle Scooter Adult and Person

As a Disabled traveler, I didn’t feel so paralyzed in the driver’s seat—and to those around me, I didn’t look it, either.

Courtesy of Sophie Morgan

Adjusting to living with paralysis means, in large part, coming to terms with accessing the world in a wheelchair, but the prospect of existing solely within the limits of four manual-powered wheels never sat well with me. From that first drive onwards, I realized I would need to somehow find alternative ways to navigate my surroundings—to reinvent the wheelchair, so to speak. After all, there is only so far a wheelchair can go.

Driving represented freedom and gave me agency at a time when my fate felt desperately uncertain. It also gave me some escapism from the confines of people’s perceptions of what life lived with a Disability could or could not be. I didn’t feel so paralyzed in the driver’s seat, and to those around me, I didn’t look it, either.

My whole world as a Disabled driver changed once again when I discovered the Can-Am Ryker. Although not designed for someone like me, with two wheels at the front and one behind, it is inherently stable enough to ride using your legs without core strength or balance. For my first ride, I decided to journey up to Scotland to revisit the place where I was paralyzed all those years ago. As I rode independently over the road scar that my then out-of-control car had carved into the tarmac, I felt as in control as I could have ever imagined being again. The experience became the title of my memoir, Driving Forwards, a mantra for life post-life-changing injury.

Leave a Reply