MDI Wheelers make Acadia’s carriage roads more accessible

MDI Wheelers
MDI Wheelers(WABI)
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 6:01 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2022 at 6:06 PM EDT
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MOUNT DESERT ISLAND, Maine (WABI) - Class two and three electric motors aren’t allowed on Acadia National Park’s carriage roads, but class one motors are.

A group on Mount Desert Island is taking advantage by starting up a tricycle riding group for people with disabilities.

It started when Ed Wood, diagnosed with Parkinson’s, retrofitted his recumbent tricycle with a class one E-motor.

Soon enough, friends of Wood’s who also couldn’t ride traditional bicycles joined him, and the MDI Wheelers were born.

“The opportunity to access the carriage roads is limited for unfortunately too many. The Evolution of MDI Wheelers has really keyed on that fact, trying to make sure that people have some way of appreciating the beauty, the solitude, interacting with people along the way,” said David Edson, MDI Wheelers president.

After a summer with a number of proof of concept rides, with the help of Friends of Acadia, the MDI Wheelers hope to turn the organization into a fully funded non-profit to help others get out on the carriage roads in 2023.

“We hope next summer we will interest people to learn how to pilot the trikes, be safety riders, and then volunteer in any other capacity,” said Edson.

Rick Smith is an MDI native who suffered a stroke in 2012. He’s on the carriage road with the Wheelers twice a week and still remembers his first ride.

“Oh, I remember laughing hysterically. In that first ride. Our friend Ed clipped his handle and just about flipped on his trike, and we just laughed about it,” said Smith.

For many of us, just having the ability to go for a bike ride might be something we’d take for granted, but for the MDI Wheelers, being able to do so despite their disability means the world.

“The old way is gone, and we had to find a new way. And, the new way is as good as the old way was. This is a way I can come to the people around,” said Ed Wood, MDI Wheelers.

“You know, I have been very fortunate. One thing that I’ve learned over this process, what is most important in life is your friends and the experiences you have with them. And, riding on the carriage paths with my friends is a wonderful experience, and I look forward to it every day,” said Smith.