New way to hit the trail

Importer Shanon Arnold (left) in the Striker hand bike with tetraplegic Keith Jarvie, who is building his strength to ride the Otago Central Rail Trail. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Importer Shanon Arnold (left) in the Striker hand bike with tetraplegic Keith Jarvie, who is building his strength to ride the Otago Central Rail Trail. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A tetraplegic Dunedin man can now ride an electric bike on the Otago Central Rail Trail, for no charge.

Dunedin resident Keith Jarvie (54) said he had always wanted to ride the rail trail but had been in a wheelchair since suffering a rugby injury in 1986.

He had planned to ride the trail in a golf cart but the Department of Conservation would not allow it. But then he heard of the electric Striker hand bikes and contacted the New Zealand Rugby Foundation.

The foundation, a welfare organisation that provides care for catastrophically injured players, provided funding for two bikes, to be based in Dunedin and Alexandra.

Mr Jarvie was building his strength before taking on the trail, he said.

Holden Engineering manager Shanon Arnold said he imported the bikes from Germany.

The 16-speed ''mountain drive'' system on the bikes could reach speeds of 20kmh, he said.

The bike would not go up Baldwin St but would handle the rail trail, Mr Arnold said.

Riders could change gears on the bike with their chins, he said.

A bike cost between $10,000 and $15,000 depending on functionality, Mr Arnold said.

The front of the bike disconnected and then the back could be used like a wheelchair. A rider could ride to a restaurant, unclip the front of the bike and go inside to eat, he said.

The bikes were available for lease, short- or long-term, and were free for anyone in a wheelchair, Mr Arnold said.

However, there was a small fee for the technician to set the bike up for the rider, he said.

- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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