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Colorado Springs hand-cyclist successfully drives City to improve local trail

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado Springs is filled with beautiful trails, and it can be easy to take them for granted. However, Drew Wills certainly won't.

"Trying to enjoy this beautiful surrounding that we have here in Colorado Springs,” Wills said while sitting on his bike. He cycles through areas in Stratton Open Space at least five days a week.

But if you see Wills out on the trail, you’ll quickly notice his bike is unlike most others.

“It's the equivalent of a mountain bike for people who can't use their legs,” said Wills.

The 62-year-old Colorado Springs native exercises on an off-road hand cycle; he’s been a proud paraplegic athlete since a ski injury left him paralyzed from the waist down 15 years ago.

Stratton Open Space is his playground.

Earlier this year he noticed the trails were being renovated, but the new renovations left parts of the trail inaccessible to differently-abled athletes like him.

"Drew reached out to me last spring,” said Dan Allen, trail project specialist with the City of Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department.

"He was having difficulty negotiating turns and then had our contractor make some improvements to the trail and make it more rideable and more enjoyable,” said Allen.

He’s thrilled that Wills reached out to him so they could make the adjustments.

"This was a learning opportunity for me. I wasn't quite sure what a handcycle was or what it was capable of so, what I learned from that experience, we're definitely applying to our trail design,” said Allen.

"It was a few extra hours of work but I feel like, we want to make sure all members of the community are welcome and out here enjoying our open spaces,” he said.

Possibly even more thrilled about the trail renovations is Wills’ wife, Jeanie.

"He has been exceptional, outstanding, amazing,” she said, proud that her husband was leading positive change for outdoor athletes.

"I'm very blessed to have such an amazing man in my life,” she said. "He does more with what he has than most people do with all that they have … Drew's little motto is 'you get busy livin' or you get busy dyin'.'"

And, with the help of the city’s Parks and Recreation team, Wills plans to keep staying busy.

"I've been riding it since and enjoying it just about every day,” said Wills.

"This was refreshing. I have to give credit where credit is due. They responded immediately,” he said.

"If it's something you really want to do, you'll find a way to do it … You may have to do it differently if you're disabled but you can still do it."

Wills is a local attorney and is also a board member for the Independence Center, a foundation that advocates for accessibility to get all people independent and active. Wills was also the first person to hand-cycle the Pike’s Peak Cycling Hill Climb.

Absolutely Colorado / Colorado Springs / Local News

Josh Helmuth

Josh is an anchor for Good Morning Colorado. Learn more about Josh here.

Comments

3 Comments

  1. Seems like this guy won’t be happy untill he is a quadriplegic. But we know biking is a hobby to die for.

  2. Good for this guy. I am glad he can still get out and ride his hand-cycle on the wonderful trails Colorado has to offer all of us.

    Now if we can get all of the rest of the bicyclists to understand this is where they should be riding their bicycles, instead of on roadways. There are too many obstinate bicyclists that feel traffic laws don’t apply to them and they just do what they want, which causes a higher proclivity of motor vehicle vs. cyclist accidents. Since they won’t follow the traffic laws, build trails throughout the city and only pass a city ordinance that restricts cyclists to not be on motor vehicle roadways.

    This fixes another problem of all of the roads that had an unused and unneeded bicyclist lanes to be removed and another traffic lane put back in as it was before. There is not that many bicyclists on the roads to warrant the need to remove lanes of traffic just to add in a bicycle lane.

    Or a better way to help explain it to the elected officials of the City of Colorado Springs, There is far more motorists on the traffic congested streets of the city of Colorado Springs. The removal of several lanes of traffic throughout the city for the addition of all of the bicycle lanes only worsened the already bad traffic congestion. Stating you are attempting to lessen the congestion while completing actions like adding a bicycle lane where a extra traffic lane was did not accomplish the task the elected officials stated they were attempting to accomplish.

    All the elected officials actions showed was that they cared more about making sure the Olympic Center had plenty of bicyclist space, and less about the rest of the populace that inhabits the City of Colorado Springs.

    Actions speak louder than words and their actions just continue to show they might as well just come out during the city council meetings and state in their best South Park character Cartman impression, “I do what I want!”

  3. Personally, if I were a bicyclist, I would not want to ride on public roadways and put my life in the hands of crazy Colorado drivers.

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