Imagine if you will that you’ve always loved the freedom associated with cycling.
Now imagine that you’ve grown older and can no longer manage that bike ride.
That’s the situation for millions of seniors around the world, and it’s something a small group of volunteers in Sidney are intent on changing.
The group is called Cycling Without Age and the program will soon be coming to Sidney where it will enlist the use of specially designed bikes to provide free rides for seniors with the help of volunteer “pilots”.
The bikes are actually electric-assisted trishaws in which the passengers get to sit in a comfortable seat on the front of the bike as the pilot takes them for a ride to wherever they wish to go.
Organizer Steve Duck, an avid cyclist himself, came across the idea while participating in last year’s Bike to Work Week.
“I saw trishaws at one of the celebration stations and I talked to the pilot. It didn’t take long to realize that this was a fantastic idea and something that we needed in Sidney,” said Duck.
“I got together a half-dozen friends and we started researching the project and planning how we would make this happen.”
Cycling Without Age is far from a new concept.
It started in Denmark in 2012 and now is represented in 37 countries, worldwide. There are more than 100 affiliates in Canada, including one in Victoria and three in Vancouver. The parent organization in Denmark estimates that more than 50,000 elderly people have taken advantage of the service in more than 1,100 affiliate locations around the globe. They say that their oldest pilot is 89 years of age and their oldest rider is over 100.
“We are looking forward to bringing two trishaws to Sidney and hope to have the service up and running by August,” said Duck.
“People will be able to book a ride online or by phone and a volunteer pilot will pick them up and take them for a ride around Sidney. It’s a great way for them to get out and experience cycling again, even if they are physically unable to individually cycle as they once did.”
Duck is actively recruiting volunteer pilots at this point and said that those pilots will not only be checked out on the bikes, but will receive additional training they may require to provide the best service to their riders. anyone wishing to become a pilot should contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But before any of this is possible, the group needs to raise the funds to purchase the trishaws and that is a challenge.
The specially designed trishaws come from the authorized dealer in Denmark at the cost of $10,000 per bike. While it’s an admittedly steep cost, Duck explained that the units are tested, safe and worth every penny of the cost. A portion of every bike’s purchase price is donated by the manufacturer to the Cycling Without Age non-profit society.
The group’s next fund raiser will take place on July 4 at the Sidney All Care Residence (theatre) and will feature a Dessert Theatre, performing “Phantom of the Opera-Lite”. It’s a murder mystery that features dessert, coffee and tea, and a free glass of wine and engages those in attendance in solving the murder mystery as they become the investigators. There will also be a silent auction featuring original art, boating passes, vintage items and more.
Tickets are $30 and are available on-line at VictoriaTickets.ca.
“This program can be life changing for seniors in our community, offering them a second chance at the freedom that cycling offers,” said Duck.