CYCLING WITHOUT AGE BOURNEMOUTH
Happy to have been asked to instruct the volunteer Pilots for this super initiative, we aim to be doing the training in May and Launching on 01 June, do contact us if you are interested in getting involved. Heres an introduction to the project:-
Cycling Without Age – a non-profit organization – was established in 2012 in Copenhagen Denmark. It is a 100% volunteer organization that takes the elderly and less able citizens out for free bike rides in specialized bicycles called trishaws. This program has grown rapidly throughout the world and is now represented in 37 countries with more than 1,100 chapter locations existing around the world using over 1,500 trishaws with over 10,000 volunteers involved.
The elderly often experience a loss of mobility leading to social isolation, loneliness and depression. Cycling Without Age provides the elderly and less able with an opportunity to remain an active part of society and to experience life beyond the confines of their residence or nursing home. The program gives them the right to wind in their hair, the ability to connect with nature, and the chance to share their stories.
Local volunteers called ‘pilots’ visit care and senior centres/facilities around the community and offer residents an opportunity to be a passenger on the Trishaw – the opportunity to get out on their own and experience freedom and independence they otherwise would not be able to do. We break them free from social isolation. Make them smile. Bring back their memories. And let them be part of society again and thereby renew their appetite for life itself. We believe life can and should be beautiful at any age – even at 100!
Cycling without age is not only about the elderly or less able. It is also about the volunteers – the pilots – it is about bringing the young and elderly together, in the great outdoors, experiencing the joy of travelling by bike and feeling free. It is probably less about volunteering in the traditional sense of the word – and more about active citizenship. Citizenship driven by a desire to get involved and to make a real difference for someone. It’s about creating relationships between people.
The program has grown rapidly throughout the world from a single care home in Copenhagen in 2012. We now span 37 countries worldwide with 1,100+ chapter locations , 1,500+ Trishaws, 10,000+ trained cycle pilots. Over 50,000 seniors have been on rides. The oldest registered volunteer pilot is 89 years of age and the oldest passenger 106 years! The Trishaws cycle 2.2 million km a year, equivalent to 53 times around the world. The idea of Cycling Without Age is simple -the effects are profound. There is no fee to participants. It is all through volunteerism – through the simple act of generosity and kindness.
CYCLING WITHOUT AGE GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Generosity: Cycling Without Age is based on generosity and kindness. It starts with the obvious act of taking one or two elderly or less-able people out on a bike ride. It’s a simple act that everyone can do.
Slowness: Slowness allows you to sense the environment and to be present in the moment. It allows people you meet along the way to be curious and gain knowledge about Cycling Without Age because you make time to stop and talk.
Storytelling: Elderly people have so many stories that will be forgotten if we don’t reach out and listen to them. We tell stories, we listen to stories on the bike and we also document the stories when we share them via word of mouth or on social media.
Relationships: Cycling Without Age is about creating a multitude of new relationships: between generations, among the elderly, between pilots and passengers, nursing homes/senior centres and residence employees and family members. Relationships build trust, happiness and quality of life.
Without Age: Life does not end when you turn 75. Life unfolds at all ages, young and old, and can be thrilling, fun, sad, beautiful and meaningful. Cycling Without Age is about letting people age in a positive context – fully aware of the opportunities that lie ahead when interacting in their local community.
The benefits of this program are immeasurable – for the passengers, the pilots and for the community. It is transformative on many levels.
The Passengers will be given a new sense of purpose and freedom. They will be offered opportunities they would otherwise not have and which have significant positive physical and psychological-social impact. The impact has been shown to permeate through a care or residential home, opening up discussion, fostering friendships and offering hope. It provides the freedom to journey outside, share stories and develop relationships for the simple pleasure of doing so-rather than being on outings that become primarily appointment orientated. The bike rides become a means for social change, help create a feeling of being valued and integrated into a wider society and reduce the isolation and depression of our aging population.
The volunteers that participate in this project come from all walks of life bringing their own life experiences and stories. Pilots gain a strong sense of fulfilment and satisfaction in giving back to their community and in serving the senior population. The intergenerational relationships formed between the pilots and passengers are what strengthen the bonds within communities building trust, happiness and quality of life. Volunteers in chapters around the world come forward readily and truly enjoy the experience – to be able to offer such a basic freedom that has such far-reaching positive effects with minimal time and effort is a wonderful feeling.
Cycling Without Age enriches the community as a whole. It promotes volunteerism, healthful opportunities, intergenerational relationships and it promotes a ‘bike friendly’ environment. It helps us as a community convey a clear and empowering message for the formation of a stronger and more cohesive culture. Nothing beats witnessing the joy of the elderly, pilots and residential personnel interacting on and around the Trishaw and seeing the smiles of the passengers coming back from their first ride with wind in their hair, rosy cheeks and with stories to share. It radiates throughout the community. Together we can make the world a more joyful, peaceful and united place.
Launching of the Bournemouth chapter of Cycling Without Age is an exciting and multistep endeavour. Establishing community connections, relationships and setting up all that goes into an organised and energized program is essential. One goal is to secure funding to initially purchase two Trishaws with the intent to offer rides to local care home residents. The preference would be to have one bike situated in Southbourne/Bournemouth with close access to local nursing homes. Subsequently the plan would be able to add more Trishaws to the Trishaw fleet. The intent is to operate the program entirely with volunteers.
The Trishaw bikes are built in Copenhagen primarily for the purpose as outlined here and incorporate safety features not found on regular bikes. They are electric assist, hold two passengers and a rider pilot and come with options such as a fold up rain hood, seat belts and additional batteries and fitted insulated blankets. The cost per bike including delivery is estimated at approximately £8200 each and will be purchased through Cycling Without Age Denmark. The hope is to raise £9000 to enable this purchase along with batteries, lights, helmets and for routine maintenance (minimal annual cost). The cost can fluctuate based on exchange rates and import duties if applied. Import duties are not applied if there is a business license. There may be an annual fee for liability insurance depending on the ownership circumstance/community support.
WHAT MIGHT SUCCESS LOOK LIKE?
Perhaps it will be apparent…
…with all the new stories we hear from the individuals involved.
…from seeing an elderly or disabled individual confined to their residence leaving for the first time for a Trishaw cycle.
…by having an elderly resident enjoy the outdoors again, not restricted to a car or to a wheelchair but feeling free, with the wind in their hair, directing where they want to go and sharing their stories.
… with improved quality of life and mental health, improved appetite and sleep, and in the need for fewer medications.
… from witnessing those with degenerative or chronic medical conditions or with visual loss feeling temporarily relieved of their symptoms and suffering and once again feeling back in control of who they are and what they want to do.
… by closing the intergenerational gap and bringing people together again to promote social change and cohesion and improving trust within the community.
… by everyone feeling purposeful in their lives and empowered to play their part as members of an active, supportive, cohesive and outward looking society.
… by simply bringing hope, joy and purpose to life.
The Cycling Without Age website (www.cyclingwithoutage.org) has a wealth of resources to explore and learn more about this amazing program. The website has some particularly good videos with my favourite being the one titled “Amazing Humans.” It is short – under three minutes in length and conveys the intent and heart of the program very well. The website for the United Kingdom (www.cyclingwithoutage.co.uk ) has links to the most of the chapters in the UK. Some of the chapters have a very nice write up and different videos.
Cycling Without Age Bournemouth: www.facebook.com/CyclingwithoutAgeBmth/
I look forward to further discuss and give more details to anyone who might wish to donate or help in any way regarding the Bournemouth Chapter of Cycling Without Age.