Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, United Spinal Association and Ian’s Ride have come together to celebrate the launch of Mackay’s wheelchair ride on the Great American with a focus on creating greater access to the outdoors for people of all abilities

WASHINGTON, September 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Ian’s Ride, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), and United Spinal Association (UNITED STATES) gathered with members and supporters today on the National Mall to celebrate the launch of by Ian Mackay journey on the Great American Rail-Trail® from washington Columbus, Ohio. Mackay, founder of Ian’s Ride and accessibility advocate, will travel 475 miles in an electric wheelchair on the easternmost part of the Great American to raise awareness of the importance and need for better access to the exterior for people with reduced mobility and other disabilities.

“Early in my recovery from my injury, having access to the outdoors brought me joy when I couldn’t find it anywhere else. The Great American Rail-Trail is a great example of infrastructure designed for people of all abilities and I’m so excited to have my wheels on the easternmost 475 miles,” Mackay said. “My philosophy is: community is the answer, we are stronger together and nature is the best medicine.”

Mackay’s event and hike will show the importance of accessible outdoor infrastructure and the need for strategic funding that helps connect trails and create safe spaces for people of all abilities to be active outdoors. air.

“We are thrilled to cheer on Ian as he embarks on the Great American Rail-Trail®,” said Kevin Belanger, RTC project manager for the Great American Rail-Trail. “The Great American Rail-Trail will provide direct access on and off the trails to 50 million people within 50 miles of the trail for 3,700 miles between washington d.c.and washington state. We hope this serves as an inspiration for what is possible when we prioritize accessibility in creating and connecting outdoor infrastructure.”

Mackay’s ride on the Great American Rail-Trail comes as several priorities are pursued in Congress. The RTC is championing funding for the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program, which would provide targeted investment to connect trails and active transportation infrastructure, creating seamless routes for walking, cycling and hiking. use of wheelchairs, separated from vehicle traffic. United Spinal is pushing for legislation to lift Medicare’s “in-home” rule, which limits Medicare coverage for wheelchairs and wheelchair components designed to operate outside a person’s home, including environments exteriors.

“We are incredibly proud of Ian as he brings outdoor accessibility to the fore, a topic that so many of our members are passionate about,” said Steve Lieberman, Director of Advocacy and Policy for United Spinal Association. “Our Outdoor Access Task Force has brought together wheelchair users across the country to advocate for greater accessibility in built and natural infrastructure, to seek greater availability and better maintenance of equipment suitable for enjoying the outdoors, and to continue to promote outdoor recreation opportunities among our community of wheelchair users throughout United States. Ian continues to raise the bar for all of us.”

At the event, Mackay and Belanger were joined by Monica WileyDC Chapter Advocacy Coordinator, United Spinal Association; Jeremy Buzzell, National Accessibility Program Team Coordinator, National Park Service; and Juliet Rizo, RTC Board Member, Disability Advocate and former Ms. Wheelchair America. Dozens of supporters came out to celebrate Mackay’s ride and many rode alongside him in wheelchairs and bicycles from the National Mall to the C&O Canal Towpath trailhead in georgetown. Mackay invites members of the public and other advocates to join him for segments of the ride as he walks his route.

After a spinal cord injury from a 2008 biking accident left Mackay paralyzed, the outdoorsman relied on an electric wheelchair and accessible trails to stay in touch with nature and its cycling community. Through his non-profit organization Ian’s Ride, he raises awareness of accessible trails across the country. Mackay recently broke a Guinness World Record for the longest distanceover 184 milesin 24 hours on a mouth-operated electric wheelchair. Its current 12-day route follows the Great American Rail-Trail®, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s flagship project to connect the nation’s first 3,700-mile multi-use trail between washington d.c.and Washington State, Mackay’s home state.

Learn more about Ian’s Ride along the east end of the Great American Rail-Trail:

Ian’s Walk is a non-profit organization founded by ian mackay which advocates for more accessible trails for people with disabilities across the country.

Founded in 1946 by paralyzed veterans, United Spinal is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including veterans, to lead successful and fulfilling lives.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is the nation’s largest trail organization – with a grassroots community of more than one million people – dedicated to building a nation connected by trails, reinventing public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, cycle and be active outdoors. Connect with RTC at and @railstotrails on Facebook, Twitter and instagram. Learn more about the Great American Rail-Trail at and follow its progress on Facebook and instagram @greatamericanrailtrail.

Patricia Brooks for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, [email protected]202.351.1757
Thomas Scott for United Spinal Association, [email protected], 718.803.3782 ext. 7223
Teena Woodward for Ian’s Ride, [email protected], 805.403. 2511

SOURCE Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

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