Getting back on the bike
After hearing several stories about elderly people missing the freedom, joy and mobility of bicycling, Ole Kassow asked himself: “How can we get these people back on their bicycles?” So, he decided to turn up at a local nursing home in Denmark with a rented trishaw and offer free bike rides to residents. It was the beginning of Cycling Without Age (CWA).
Seven years later, CWA runs in 40 countries worldwide with more than 29,000 pilots, as they are known, helping the elderly get out of their aged-care homes and back into the community around them.
CWA came to Australia four years ago and there are now 26 groups operating around the country. Angela Hird, who chairs CWA Australia and volunteers for a cycling group in the northern Victorian town of Kerang, told the ABC, “[The passengers] really love it when the community, as they’re driving by or walking by, give them a wave or stop and have a chat.” And Toni Kilderry, activities coordinator at the Glenarm Nursing Home in Kerang, reports, “[The residents] love to get out. Anything to get out of the four walls for a change. It’s such a wonderful initiative.”
The program’s Sydney coordinator Adrian Boss told The Senior the program helped to foster new friendships between riders and volunteers. “With the new trishaw, we’ll be able to take residents on rides to explore the Sydney Opera House, The Botanical Gardens, the Domain, Rushcutters’ Bay Park and Centennial Parklands all easily reached from local care homes,” he said.
According to its website, CWA provides the elderly with “an opportunity to remain an active part of society and the local community.” The scheme also creates “a multitude of new relationships: between generations, among the elderly, between pilots and passengers, nursing home employees and family members.” Perhaps best of all, CWA provides a rare moment for residents to share stories and experiences often triggered by these trips out into the local environment.
ABOVE Trishaws were launched in Sydney last July
PHOTO City of Sydney