Adaptive paddler entering kayak in launch
26 Mar

It’s a common misconception that an accessible kayak launch is ONLY intended for people with mobility impairments. The truth is that an accessible launch benefits the entire community and assists people of all abilities with accessing the water. Able-bodied paddlers love an accessible launch because it offers a simple and dry way to enter the water. BoardSafe’s launch also helps novice paddlers and families with young children learn how to enter a kayak and paddle safely. The accessibility features also benefit people with minor impairments, such as a bad knee or hip.

Paddlers entering kayak on adaptive launch  Adaptive paddler leaving kayak launch

How does the launch attract more paddlers?

BoardSafe Docks recently installed a launch in Canton, New York. When we asked the parks director how the launch affected kayaking at that site, she reported that the new accessible launch increased their park’s visitation by a factor of 3. Entering and exiting kayaks and canoes and launching them into the water is often the most difficult part of the sport. When a launch system offers safe and stable entry to the water, it appeals to its users and enhances the paddling experience for people who use the launch. It also keeps them coming back.

Nearly 20% of the U.S. population live with a form of disability, and approximately 12% live with a mobility disability. This is a sizable portion of our population who still want to enjoy recreating on the water with family and friends. This is why the features of the BoardSafe launch have such an appeal.

Economic benefits of BoardSafe’s accessible and adaptive kayak launch

BoardSafe was recently asked how new paddle craft launches and access points impact the local economies. This link points to several resources that provide statistics and studies on the economic benefits of water trails. 

Water trails boost local economy

Included in the above link is a PowerPoint presentation by the Georgia River Network. Its message does a nice job of discussing the “Granola Myth.” This myth addresses the perception that new infrastructure (like a kayak launch) offers little in return to the community; implying that people using the launch are packing their granola, water, etc., and not spending money in local communities. However, the facts are that, on average, $55 is spent per person for kayakers and canoers (Reference the Ohio Census data). The statistic was mirrored in a study conducted by the New York State Canals Corporation on kayakers visiting the Erie Canal. The number increases from $55 to nearly $250 for out-of-town visitors.

Adaptive paddler entering kayak in launch  View of adaptive kayak launch

The OIA Report is a national report that provides statistics for all types of outdoor industry recreation, revenue, and jobs created by outdoor sports. It is worth taking a look at their statistics on economic impact because the report breaks this information down by state.

 Three reasons inclusive water trails are important

  1. Including underserved groups and paddlers with disabilities improves access for everyone.
  2. When more people have great places to go that meet their unique needs, there is bound to be less conflict among different types of trail users.
  3. The process of developing inclusive water trails is an excellent investment in building a vibrant, healthy, cohesive community.

The investment in an accessible kayak launch—particularly one built of aluminum, composite, non-polluting flotation, and stainless steel—will pay dividends to communities for years to come.

BoardSafe is a leading provider of innovative access solutions that specializes in the design, fabrication, and installation of floating docks, gangways, pedestrian bridges, adaptive kayak launches, and accessible fishing piers that promote accessibility and inclusivity for waterfront activities.

Contact BoardSafe Docks at 610-899-0286 for more information on your solution for inclusive access with universal design features. Our Adaptive Kayak Launch with features specific to persons with disabilities will serve your whole community. Its universal design will enhance your waterfront and provide access to all people who wish to get out and paddle with family and friends.