Here’s something that may help wheelchair users deal with the slippery winter issue of poor traction. An inexpensive way to turn your everyday wheelchair tires into wheelchair snow tires.
Snowy winter days are easy on the eyes and something many of us look forward to seeing, at least “once” each winter season. For wheelchair users these winter wonderland days can present some real issues with getting around and getting the not so wonderland things done.
Loss of traction is the Grinch that will likely steal mobility on these days. Getting stuck in the middle of nowhere on a wintry day with no one around to give you a shove is bogus, scary, and may even be hazardous to one’s health.
Here is an inexpensive do-it-yourself solution for turning your everyday tires into wheelchair snow tires. It can increase your wheelchair’s tire traction by simulating tire chains and studs. The upfront on this process- This won’t get you to the top of Kilimanjaro but it will help in light snow or on paths that have not been plowed or shoveled down to the bone. It should work on almost all manual wheelchairs. The wheels on powered wheelchairs may limit the number of bands that can be applied but some is certainly better than none.
How to do-it-yourself:
- Get your hands on some sturdy plastic/nylon wire ties that are long enough to go around the thickness of your wheelchair’s tire and wheel. Too long is OK since you can cut the ends off.
- Tie 25 to 30 ties evenly around each wheel and tire of a manual wheelchair. Powered wheelchairs and smaller tires will require less or may be limited by the wheel style so use your judgment on those.
- Place the tie heads (buckle) on the inside of the wheel. The opposite of where they are in the picture so that you don’t beat up your hands when you push.
- Make sure the tie heads (buckle) point slightly away from the tire and not downward under the tire. This will help dig snow while making for a smoother ride.
- Cut the excess on each tie away and you’re set. Go gettem Nanuk!
A winter tip for manual wheelchair users: If you have a manual wheelchair with quick release wheels and some extra money or cool friends, get hold of an extra set of quick release wheels and and a set of knobby tires. Set them up as your wheelchair snow tires. Keep the knobbies around at home or in the trunk of your car for a quick swap out when needed.
Where did this cool do-it-yourself wheelchair traction tip come from? It seems that bicyclists in Europe figured this one out. Resourceful little devils aren’t they?
Director of Assistive Technology
United Spinal Association