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Is it Okay to Put A Wheelchair On A Bike Rack?

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Can you put a wheelchair on a bike rack?

That’s a relatively tricky question, isn’t it?

Well, read on and we’ll give you the answers.

From the basics to a more in-depth look into the world of transporting comfortable wheelchairs we’ll cover it all below!

Weight and Load Capacity of Wheelchairs, Carriers, and Bike Racks

Let me simplify this for you. The short answer is no, you can’t put a wheelchair on a bike rack. Well, perhaps “can’t” is the wrong word. Technically you can, but it’s not the safest option.

Why? The answer to that question lies in


Average Weight of Wheelchairs

self-propelled manual wheelchair

The weight of manual wheelchairs ranges from 13.5 lbs to sixty pounds.

Power wheelchairs, on the other hand, weigh between 41 to 250 pounds — depending on the motor (or the lack thereof), the accessories, and the materials used.

Before you try to stick your wheelchair on a bike rack, find out exactly how much it weighs. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t have to stick it on your bathroom scale (talk about a major challenge) to find out.

Typically, you can find that info on your manufacturer’s website.

How Much Can Carriers Hold?

When you’re shopping for a carrier to add to your car or truck-whether it’s for a bike or a wheelchair or something else entirely, you’ll notice something called “tongue weight.”

What does that mean? It’s the total amount of weight that your carrier can support on its own, which is usually up to 350 lbs.

How much weight does a bike rack hold?

See, a typical bike rack weighs between 18 to 45lbs and can hold only an average weight of 37 lbs to a max of about 188 lbs.

Right off the bat, we can see that a bike rack definitely can’t hold a heavy power wheelchair.

However, that sounds like plenty of “tongue weight” for a lightweight transport wheelchair, right? Some of those weigh less than 37 lbs!

However, you’ll be taking a huge risk, since this isn’t what it was designed for. In fact, most bike rack manufacturers flat-out say you can’t put a wheelchair on a bike rack.

Bike racks are designed specifically for, well, bikes!

Maybe (and that’s a big maybe) you can get away with using your bike rack in a pinch.

If- and only if- you have no other choice, your wheelchair is very light AND you can secure it to the bike rack with extra ropes or bungees, then you can use one.

However, keep in mind that it’s not the safest option at all. If your wheelchair flies of the rack not only will it break, but it could cause an accident that you’ll be liable for.

You’re SO much better off sticking with wheelchair carriers specifically built to transport your chair.

There are still a few different options, including some that actually look pretty much like a bike rack. Let’s discuss.

Types of Carriers that Work Much Better Than Bike Racks

  • Automatic Car-Top Carrier. This is a great option for those who can’t manually lift their chair. It has a switch-controlled, electric-driven hoist that picks the wheelchair up and folds it as it rises to the roof of the vehicle. It works best with large vehicles and manual wheelchairs.
  • Bumper mounted carrier. It’s another carrier with simpler features and is best used with manual wheelchairs.
  • Hitch-mounted carriers. They’re the most cost-effective carrier today. Both automatic and manually operatedones. These can be attached to any drawbar or ball mount on the back of your vehicle without modifying the carrier.
  • Pick-up truck wheelchair carrier. This type is more accessible to PWDs (persons with disabilities). It has an electrical motor controlled by a handheld device that lifts the wheelchair to the pick-up truck bed.

Why use a bike rack when you can get a good carrier to transport your wheelchair safely when traveling?

If you’re still struggling to find a good one, here are a few guidelines to follow while shopping.

  • Know the features you should be looking for in a carrier before buying. If you need it to fit on the back of your car versus the top, for example, keep that in mind.
  • Consider affordability and quality.
  • Be aware of how much weight it can lift and carry. It should be the sum how heavy your wheelchair is plus a little extra for whatnots.
  • It must be suitable for the type of vehicle you have. In other words, don’t buy a hitch made specifically for a big truck for your compact car.
  • Know the weight your vehicle can move and how far it can travel with that load. You see, most cars can haul both the wheelchair and the carrier. However, a car with a small haul capacity may eventually get damaged after prolonged use.

READ MORE: 10 Famous People in Wheelchairs

FAQs

Do I HAVE to use a wheelchair carrier?

side view of a manual wheelchair in a rooftop

If you’re planning on traveling with your wheelchair and it doesn’t fit in your car, then yes, you should use a carrier. A bike rack just won’t do the trick. It’s a lot cheaper to buy a carrier than replace a broken wheelchair that fell off your car!

What is a good wheelchair carrier?

The answer depends entirely on your wheelchair and your vehicle. When in doubt, ask your mechanic, car dealership or another expert to help you choose. Material-wise, though, steel is the sturdiest.

Can I transport my wheelchair inside my car?

electric wheelchair with large wheels

If your wheelchair can safely fit in your back seat AND you can secure it properly, then yes. However, if anyone else will be sitting in the back seat, it’s best to use a carrier. Wheelchairs can cause a lot of damage in the event of an accident.


Conclusion

While it’s true that a bike rack can hold the combined weight of two to four bikes, it doesn’t
mean it can safely transport a wheelchair the way carriers do.

But here’s the thing. There’s a lot of carriers to choose from. Ask around. Better yet, browse the internet. You’ll surely find one.

References

  • “How to Transfer a Wheelchair into the Back of a Car.” 2015. Unicare Health. October 20, 2015. https://www.unicarehealth.com.au/how-to-transfer-a-wheelchair-into-the-back-of-a-car/.
  • Senior Living Headquarters. 2020. “Can You Put a Wheelchair on a Bike Rack? | Senior Living Headquarters.” Senior Living Headquarters. July 13, 2020. https://seniorlivingheadquarters.com/can-you-put-a-wheelchair-on-a-bike-rack/.
man propelling a manual wheelchair

Can you put a wheelchair on a bike rack? Please share your thoughts on this topic with us!

About Claire Bonneau

Claire is registered nurse with experience in freelance medical writing. She is very passionate about geriatric nursing and seniors care and education (it is her favorite area of nursing). She worked with many seniors ina variety of medical settings to provide high-quality education and instructions about medical conditions and proper self-care. Follow her n LINKEDIN

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