What is Cycling Without Age?
As Naomi and Marty buckle up their helmets, Peter Zimmer, a Cycling Without Age volunteer and board member at the Halifax Cycling Coalition, adjusts the seat of the new trishaw.
The trishaw belongs to the Northwood long-term care home and it’s part of their new Cycling Without Age program.
Cycling without Age started in 2012 in Denmark by Ole Kassow. Kassow wanted to help elders get back on their bicycles. To do this, Kassow started offering free bike rides to local nursing home residents using a unique bike called a trishaw.
Since then, Cycling Without Age has spread to over 50 countries around the world, including over 30 local chapters in six provinces across Canada. This summer that number grew to seven, as Cycling Without Age made its way into Nova Scotia!
Northwood bought two trishaws, one is located in Bedford and the other one in Halifax. The program is run by Northwood, and HCC was happy to join as a partner to help deliver the program.
On the roads
I have joined a few rides now, and more than once people have recognized the trishaw as it rolls by. On one ride, a woman excitedly yelled out from her front lawn to ask if we were with Northwood, before running onto the street to tell us she saw a story about the trishaw on CBC and ask some questions. Another man smiled and asked if we could come pick him up afterwards.
It’s hard not to smile when the trishaw passes by.
When residents get their opportunity to ride the trishaw they usually have a pretty good idea of where they want to go. Often, they want to go to places where they used to live or cycle around when they were younger.
It’s Naomi Nonnekes first time out on the trishaw. Nonnekes used to cycle in Halifax when she was younger, so the trishaw brings back a lot of memories for her.
“It’s just so lovely to be out and about,” she said with a smile.
“We’d like to see it grow”
Peter Zimmer is a board member at the Halifax Cycling Coalition, and he was one of the first people trained to drive the trishaw. He said that when he is driving, he often hears people talking about the city as they ride through: what’s changed, the best place to get ice cream – simple things like that.
He said the trishaw rides allow seniors to mesh back into a richer experience of their city.
“Being on a bike or on a trishaw is a totally different experience than being in a car or being driven somewhere, or riding in a bus or even walking — it’s much more relaxed,” said Zimmer. “It’s a comfortable and easy way to see parts of the city that many people haven’t seen in years.”
Zimmer said benefits of the trishaw don’t just stop at the ride. He said the observations within the wider Cycling Without Age movement is that there is a lot of inter-generational friendships made.
For now, the trishaws are just available for Northwood residents, and the hope is that the program will continue to grow, allowing it to reach even more seniors around the city.
As the program grows, Northwood will need more volunteers to drive the trishaws. If you’d like to get involved, you can register to be a volunteer through Northwood’s website below.