Electrical wheelchair excursions present Colombian metropolis from new angle

MEDELLIN, Colombia (AP) — Wilson Guzmán dropped the use of his legs at age 17 when he was shot in the back again when hoping to recover a stolen bicycle in his hometown of Medellin, Colombia.

Two decades later on, he glides as a result of the city’s streets utilizing an electrical hand-bicycle hooked up to the front of his wheelchair. He recently gave a tour of Medellin’s parks to 7 folks who followed him down bicycle lanes and up steep hills on related motor vehicles.

“Every individual who will get on these wheelchairs leaves with a smile,” mentioned Guzmán. “They also master what it’s like to be in the footwear of a person with a incapacity.”

The wheelchair tours that Guzman prospects at the time a week are the newest tourist attraction in a metropolis that is slowly shedding its standing for drug violence and has turn out to be just one of Colombia’s most frequented destinations.

They’re structured by MATT — which stands for Mobility, Accessibility, Time and Do the job — a commence-up founded very last year that aims to build careers for people with disabilities.

For the equivalent of $25, each persons who can and won’t be able to wander can get on the electrical wheelchairs and consider the three-hour tour of the city’s riverside parks, which involves stops at a coffee shop and a bar that does beer tasting. The units accelerate rapidly and can achieve speeds of 30 kph (19 mph).

“We feel this will be a profitable proposal in terms of instruction and inclusion,” mentioned organization founder Martín Londoño.

The excursions commenced in Oct and their routes are nonetheless staying adjusted. Londoño mentioned he desired to present them before this calendar year but had to hold off the launch owing to the coronavirus pandemic and vacation constraints imposed by the Colombian govt, which have been lifted in September.

The hand-cycles, crafted and intended with the assist of area bike workshops, are driven by rechargeable batteries and latch on to wheelchairs with metallic bars and hooks. The steering and brakes are like those people on a regular bicycle, whilst accelerating only involves pushing a button on a single of the handles.

Londoño, 31, started out to do the job on the hand-cycles four several years in the past to improve his possess mobility. He dropped the use of his legs just after breaking his spinal chord in a site visitors incident at age 18.

Londoño took inspiration from Batec, a Spanish company that helps make electric hand-bikes and sells them for amongst 4,000 and 6,000 euros. He needed to make a version that was much more reasonably priced for individuals in Colombia, wherever the minimum amount wage is about $250 a thirty day period.

After quite a few tries, Londoño managed to create a functional hand-bike for himself, but his endeavours to sell them for about $2,000 were not profitable.

“We understood that most persons with disabilities in Colombia have incredibly meager incomes,” explained Londoño, who grew up in a wealthy community of Medellin and graduated from an global faculty. “They have no employment and numerous can not even manage a typical wheelchair.”

Londoño modified his enterprise design and founded MATT. With his financial savings and those people of his company partners, Londoño has crafted a fleet of 15 hand-cycles. 3 of them have been leased to people with disabilities who operate for a delivery assistance set up by MATT this 12 months.

Londoño prices the shipping staff a month to month rate of $90 and suggests they will be permitted to retain the hand-bikes at the time they have paid out for them.

MATT utilizes the remaining hand-bikes for its wheelchair tour, which is nonetheless in its early times and will have to compete against more well known attractions, together with tours of sites involved with drug lord Pablo Escobar, a museum showcasing the functions of artist Fernando Botero and a cable vehicle that ascends a steep mountain to a pristine cloud forest.

Londoño claims he is hoping to encourage his tour on social media while creating partnerships with regional journey corporations. He dreams of using the wheelchair tours to other cities in Colombia, Latin The us and the United States.

“This is a further way to clearly show how our town is changing” stated Valeria Toro, a Medellin vacation agent who wants to record it on offerings for journey corporations abroad. “It’s an practical experience that persons are not very likely to forget right after they go back again house.”