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People Across The World Are Now Volunteering To Take The Elderly On Bike Rides

People Across The World Are Now Volunteering To Take The Elderly On Bike Rides

The organization, which began in Copenhagen, has now spread to 40 countries with over 10,000 volunteers.

An organization called Cycling Without Age is giving elderly folks around the world a literal breath of fresh air - by taking them around on rickshaw rides. Founded in 2012 by Copenhagen native Ole Kassow, the organization now exists in 40 countries and is run entirely by helpful volunteers around the world. Kassow began the organization when he befriended a nursing home resident, and mused that the man would probably like to go back out into his community. He got permission to take the resident out on a ride in a rental trishaw - a cargo tricycle with a passenger compartment in the front. The next day, he received a call asking if he could do it again, and the rest is history. 



 

Kassow's trips with nursing home residents soon became a frequent fixture in his routine. “It gave them newfound mobility, and it gave me an amazing new insight into my city,” he said. When he wrote to city officials asking for funding to buy a trishaw for the nursing home, the city gifted him with more - five trishaws, for five different nursing homes. All of a sudden, Kassow was fielding calls from people wanting to volunteer to pilot the bikes. Cycling Without Age now has 4000 volunteers in Denmark alone, and has spread to 40 countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, Singapore, and several countries around Europe. 



 

According to the organization's website, Cycling Without Age dreams of providing the elderly 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," it says. The main motive of the organization is to break down the barriers to accessibility and mobility that senior citizens face. “With the trishaw, almost all areas are accessible,” says Pernille Bussone, who launched the Singapore chapter of the organization. “Unlike with a wheelchair, we can go far.” 



 



 

As long as you can ride a bicycle and have a desire to help, you can volunteer to be a pilot for Cycling Without Age. However, as riding a trishaw is different from riding a standard bicycle, new volunteers first ride with experienced pilots to ensure that they can handle the vehicle correctly. Once the training is complete, the pilot mentor accompanies the new volunteer on their first ride with a passenger. As the organization continues to grow, the home branch in Copenhagen has expanded to include longer rides with passengers. In June 2017, members took a 250-mile trip from Rønde, Denmark to Arendal, Norway, with 17 passengers and 20 pilots. “We’ve found that long rides have some really significant positive effects on both the elderly residents, the pilots, and the nursing home staff,” Kassow said. “We organize reunions two or three months afterward, and the people who have dementia will remember the trip and talk about it. They light up, they smile, and they sing along to songs we played on the ride.”



 

“I think Cycling Without Age appeals to so many different cultures because it ticks off several boxes important to people, irrespective of country and culture,” Kassow muses. “It appeals to fundamental human kindness, it promotes community and relationships across generations; and it involves cycling, which is gaining in popularity around the world.”

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