A new concept set for Irish streets is Cycling Without Age which is looking to give nursing home residents an exciting element of freedom and the feeling of wind in their hair.
“Cycling Without Age is a Danish concept, in which residents of nursing homes are taking out on cycling trips on trishaw bikes piloted by volunteers,” says Clara Clark, one of the founders of the Irish chapter of Cycling Without Age.
The Irish group hopes to have the a demonstration bicycle in Dublin in mid-February.
The first bicycle planned to be used is an adult-carrying Danish-made Trio Bike (pictured above). It’s a three-wheeled cargo bicycle with two adults seats at the front and the saddle and handle bars behind them — it has one wheel at the back and two at the sides of a box on the front of the box.
Clara calls it a trishaw, it’s basically a three-wheeled cargo bike or rickshaw, depending on your view.
Clara says: “Cycling at a slow and easy pace for a fragile passenger offers both cyclist and passenger a new experience. Health benefits can include better mood and sleep, something for the residents to look forward to, exploring their neighbourhood and feeling the wind in their hair. Carers and families will also have something new to talk about.”
The first thing that springs to mind when we hear rickshaw is the recently proposed anti-rickshaw laws, so we ask if those involved with setting up Cycling Without Age in Ireland are worried about the proposed anti-rickshaw laws in Ireland. But Cycling Without Age is non-commercial with volunteers cycling the bicycles, so, the organisers think they won’t be affected by any law change.
Clara says: “Cycling Without Age is defined by its slow cycling philosophy. The bike has a battery pack with just enough power to aid the extra weight of two passengers on inclines. It is not designed for speed. Nor is it commercial. Neither the cyclists, called pilots, nor the passengers pay or get paid. This is a voluntary activity, to bring life and joy to those who have lost some of their independence and mobility through age or infirmity.”
The demonstration model, which is expected in Dublin later this month, is aimed at showing nursing home staff that the concept will work here as well as it has elsewhere.
“As the Cycling Without Age concept is so new and unusual, it is difficult to explain to nursing home staff,” explains Clara. “This is why we decided to bring in the first trishaw bike, as a demonstration model, which we plan to take to nursing homes. We have had several expressions of interest from organisations around the country, including universities and local authorities. We plan a launch once we have the bike here, when we can roll out the concept nationally.”
She says it’s a totally voluntary activity for them and they hope once the concept of demonstrated to work that nursing homes, and possibly local authorities and others will purchase their own bikes to offer the service themselves.
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She adds: “We plan to host a national launch to get some publicity for the concept. Then we can take the trishaw bike around to local nursing homes and offer to demonstrate its purpose and benefits. As we live in Blackrock, Co Dublin, we will begin in the Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown area. We have already met with the Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council Cycling Officer and Age-Friendly Coordinator, who have expressed interest in the idea. Routes will be tested and developed over time. Greenways around the country would be perfect for Cycling Without Age.”
Clara is also part of the S2S.ie team, who have advocated for the development of the off-road cycleway and promenade around Dublin Bay. She says the S2S route would be ideal for Cycling Without Age.
“We plan to use the cycle lanes where they exist and to use parks when possible. Getting off-road will be more pleasant and safer for the passengers… the S2S would make the ideal cycle route and could be used by dozens of nursing homes all over Dublin, to give residents a spin by the sea. Dublin and Ireland needs to invest in better cycling infrastructure for many reasons: health, environmental sustainability, climate change, too much reliance on cars, pollution to name a few,” says Clara.
“With an ageing population, more people will live longer and may lose their independence. Cycling Without Age offers people an exciting element of freedom and the feeling of wind in their hair, a concept we all need and would benefit from from time to time,” she says.
NOTE: A fault caused by the WordPress app shows that this article was published on January 16, 2017 @ 23:43, this is incorrect, it was actually published on February 10, 2017 @ 12:23.