Van Raam produces uniquely special needs bicycles and specializes in tricycles, scooterbikes, wheelchair bikes, tandem bikes, double rider bikes, and low step trough bikes (also known as comfortbikes). Each model is also available as an electric bike (Pedelec).
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I have been the proud owner of a Midi tricycle from Van Raam for 1,5 years now. One can say that I am in love with this bicycle. This I often say to people when they ask for my bicycle. And no, I am not insane!
My name is Monique (my friends call me Mo), I am 59 years old, live in The Hague and I have severe osteoarthritis in both my knees. Add my extra weight and … I fit in it just perfectly. Of course, osteoarthritis can be found among young, slim women and yes, also among men. However, according to research the prevalence is greater among plus-sized women my age.
Before I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis I could easily climb three flights of stairs with two bags of kitty litter in my arms. Now grocery shopping is already too much for me. I decided it was about time I broke the spell of this downward spiral and I knew what I wanted. For this I did need my GP: I wanted a tricycle!
I spent hours on the internet looking up all the WMO (Social Support Act) rules and regulations. My GP recommended me a tricycle with electric pedal support. I am not allowed to put a heavy strain my knees or struggle with headwind. I agreed with my GP, but I wanted more, or actually one more wheel, because a tricycle would likely be provided by the WMO.
I had been impatiently for months when I finally received the redemptive call: I could pick up my tricycle with electric pedal support at the homecare store. Frankly, I already started to worry. I had requested the tricycle in February 2016 and received it in October.
The big bike adventure was about to begin and my first ride from the home care store to my house went splendidly. My knees did not hurt and I felt a great sense of freedom and gratitude because the municipality allows me to ride this wonderful tricycle. The next day my muscles did ache a little, but that made sense, this was a whole new overload. Although the tricycle is equipped with electric pedal support, pedaling is still necessary.
Sometimes people think that if you are riding a tricycle it means you have a mental disability. Although there is nothing wrong in my head and I’m not a lunatic, this sometimes leads to humorous situations. A while ago a woman came to me with firm steps. She said, "I will help you to the other side, miss." She stepped onto the busy street and beckoned to me: 'Yes, you can go .. careful, the cars will wait.’ This lady was really lucky that she did not cause an accident. After we both safely and safely cross over, I thanked her of course and asked if she did this to everyone. Her answer was 'No, of course not, only for people who need it'! I thanked her again, waved and cycled away quickly. Leaving her somewhat desperate.
Those who have difficulty walking must be smart, the fortune favors the bold! I don’t have good knees anymore, but I do have a bike! The bike from Columbus, my tower of strength. When my sister was in the hospital and I wanted to visit her, I was worried about the distances I would have to walk at the hospital. With my bike these distances would not be a problem. But was I allowed to go into the hospital with my tricycle? I took my phone and called the hospital's information line, explained my problem and also explained my solution. I always tell them, and that is no lie, that my bike is an adapted bike and falls in the category 'disabled vehicles'. Not that I'm proud of it, but it helps. It helps to be able to come to places where you cannot cycle on a regular bike, such as the hiking trails in the forest, the boulevard and the shopping center. Fortunately, it also helped my question if I could go to the hospital by bike; there was no objection. The only thing I had to do was inform the right department that I came to visit with an unusual type of transport. Thank you HAGA hospital for thinking along and the permission to go into the building and to go upstairs.
My bike is a inseparable part of my live. Fortunately, I can safely park my tricycle in the parking garage under the building in the seniors complex where I live. This is also the place where I charge my bike. I take my tricycle everywhere and luckily it is also welcome everywhere. For example, I take it with me on a tram ride, I cycle into the town hall and I could even visit my sister in the hospital by bike. If I could change one thing on my bike, I would like to be able to cycle a longer distance with pedal support. I know that the distance you can drive with a storage battery depends on many factors, including weight and level of support. However, I must charge the battery too often for my liking. Luckily, I have been able to arrange an extra battery for my bike through the WMO, after contacting them many times. Hopefully I can make longer bike trips soon, because I like to keep moving. And who knows, maybe I can cycle from The Hague to Van Raam in Varsseveld once to see where my bike was made haha.
If you want to read more stories of Mo (and her bike)? Check out her (Dutch) blog.
PS: If you think after reading this user experience: "What does Monique on her tricycle in front of that stairs?" (see the picture above). No worries, from a reliable source (Monique van Stuijvenberg) we have heard that she didn't take the stairs by bike.😊
Monique van Stuijvenberg - Den Haag (the Netherlands)
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