Younger people often take for granted our ability to move easily and participate in a variety of activities, such as riding a bike. Moreover, we often forget that these are things that many elderly people very much miss doing. This is where Cycling Without Age comes in, offering rickshaw rides to the elderly. (1)
Rickshaw Rides For the Elderly
Copenhagen resident Ole Kassow founded Cycling Without Age in 2012. (1) The idea came to him when he passed an elderly gentleman sitting on a bench outside of a nursing home while riding his bike to work. (2)
The older man had a disability, and Kassow thought perhaps he hadn’t ridden a bicycle in quite some time. With cycling such an ingrained part of the culture in Copenhagen, he thought this man probably missed it dearly. (2)
Kassow thought of his own father. Now confined to a wheelchair, he, like this man, was unable to enjoy bike rides like he used to. (2)
“I couldn’t get that thought out of my head, that I needed to get this man back on a bike,” Kassow said. (2)
The very next day he rented a rickshaw and began offering rides to seniors living in the retirement home. His first ride was with a woman who told him stories about her life in Copenhagen as they rode around. When they returned, she had more energy than the staff at the home had ever seen her with. (2)
Kassow knew he’d found something special, and Cycling Without Age was born. (2)
Cycling Without Age
As more and more volunteers began signing on to give rickshaw rides to the elderly in their area, Cycling Without Age grew. Today, there are 2,200 chapters in 50 countries around the world. (1)
The goal of Cycling Without Age is simple: Connect the younger people in cities and towns with the older generation and help the elderly get some fresh air via a rickshaw ride. (2)
“We dream of creating a world together, in which the access to active citizenship creates happiness among our fellow elderly citizens by providing them with an opportunity to remain an active part of society and the local community.
We do that by giving them the right to wind in their hair, the right to experience the city and nature close up from the bicycle and by giving them an opportunity to tell their story in the environment where they have lived their lives.
That way we build bridges between generations and we reinforce trust, respect and the social glue in our society.” (2)
Rickshaw Rides Improving People’s Lives
As Kassow and the nursing home staff saw with that first-ever ride, the rickshaw rides have the ability to really improve people’s daily lives. All the evidence was purely anecdotal, so they decided to conduct an actual study.
The impact study was done using the chapter in Singapore. (3) The study found the passengers experience (3):
- 19.5% increase in current mood and outlook on life
- 17.4% increase in social connectedness and community connection
“When you have people who are in a forgotten state and you take them into their communities, they meet new people, see people they know, and it makes some of these smaller towns a little stronger,” said Kelly Talcott, U.S. coordinator for CWA. “It’s really about giving somebody a new story to tell.” (4)
The passengers aren’t the only ones benefiting. The pilots also experience many of the same improvements in social connection and sense of community. They report that their passengers teach them a lot about life and that they learn much from the elderly they take on trips. (3)
How it Works
Volunteers sign up to be a pilot and can go on rides as much or as little as they want to. Most of the time rides are just simple day trips, however, Cycling Without Age has partnered with various nursing homes and others to offer more than just a bike ride. (2)
Some chapters, such as those in Sweden and Wisconsin, offer ice fishing trips. Some chapters offer three and four-day bike touring trips. These are larger groups and often include family members of the elderly passengers and nursing home staff. They stay at hotels, have picnics, and a variety of other activities. These trips can have over 100 participants. (2)
Volunteers have to purchase their own rickshaws, however, Cycling Without Age has resources to help you both fundraise and purchase one on their Getting Started page. In certain places, such as Wisconsin and Minnesota, volunteers can receive funding to purchase their rickshaws. (2)
A Program That Benefits All
Without a doubt, the rickshaw rides for the elderly have massive benefits for everyone involved. Visit Cycling Without Age’s website here to see if there is a chapter in your city or learn how to get one going.