MEDELLIN, Colombia — Wilson Guzmán shed the use of his legs at age 17 when he was shot in the back while striving to recover a stolen bicycle in his hometown of Medellin, Colombia.
Two decades afterwards, he glides as a result of the city’s streets applying an electrical hand-bicycle attached to the front of his wheelchair. He lately gave a tour of Medellin’s parks to seven people today who adopted him down bike lanes and up steep hills on very similar autos.
“Every person who receives on these wheelchairs leaves with a smile,” claimed Guzmán. “They also learn what it is like to be in the shoes of a person with a incapacity.”
The wheelchair excursions that Guzman qualified prospects once a 7 days are the most recent tourist attraction in a metropolis that is slowly and gradually shedding its popularity for drug violence and has become a single of Colombia’s most frequented destinations.
They are arranged by MATT — which stands for Mobility, Accessibility, Time and Get the job done — a get started-up launched final yr that aims to create work for people today with disabilities.
For the equivalent of $25, both of those individuals who can and cannot walk can get on the electrical wheelchairs and choose the 3-hour tour of the city’s riverside parks, which incorporates stops at a espresso store and a bar that does beer tasting. The equipment speed up swiftly and can get to speeds of 30 kph (19 mph).
“We imagine this will be a successful proposal in terms of education and learning and inclusion,” claimed firm founder Martín Londoño.
The excursions started in Oct and their routes are nonetheless currently being modified. Londoño claimed he preferred to supply them before this yr but had to delay the launch owing to the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions imposed by the Colombian govt, which have been lifted in September.
The hand-cycles, developed and designed with the assistance of area bike workshops, are driven by rechargeable batteries and latch on to wheelchairs with metal bars and hooks. The steering and brakes are like those on a common bicycle, even though accelerating only demands pushing a button on a person of the handles.
Londoño, 31, started out to perform on the hand-cycles 4 years back to enhance his very own mobility. He shed the use of his legs following breaking his spinal chord in a site visitors incident at age 18.
Londoño took inspiration from Batec, a Spanish firm that helps make electric hand-bikes and sells them for in between 4,000 and 6,000 euros. He wanted to make a version that was a lot more very affordable for folks in Colombia, where by the minimum wage is about $250 a month.
Just after several tries, Londoño managed to develop a practical hand-bicycle for himself, but his endeavours to promote them for around $2,000 weren’t prosperous.
“We understood that most people today with disabilities in Colombia have incredibly meager incomes,” said Londoño, who grew up in a wealthy community of Medellin and graduated from an worldwide faculty. “They have no work and quite a few cannot even pay for a frequent wheelchair.”
Londoño changed his business enterprise product and established MATT. With his cost savings and people of his organization companions, Londoño has developed a fleet of 15 hand-cycles. Three of them have been leased to folks with disabilities who work for a shipping and delivery assistance established up by MATT this year.
Londoño charges the supply personnel a regular monthly rate of $90 and says they will be allowed to maintain the hand-bikes after they have paid for them.
MATT takes advantage of the remaining hand-bikes for its wheelchair tour, which is still in its early times and will have to compete against extra famous attractions, which include tours of places involved with drug lord Pablo Escobar, a museum featuring the performs of artist Fernando Botero and a cable vehicle that ascends a steep mountain to a pristine cloud forest.
Londoño says he is seeking to encourage his tour on social media while building partnerships with local travel businesses. He goals of taking the wheelchair tours to other towns in Colombia, Latin America and the United States.
“This is a different way to demonstrate how our city is changing” said Valeria Toro, a Medellin vacation agent who wants to listing it on choices for journey companies abroad. “It’s an working experience that folks are not possible to neglect soon after they go back again household.”