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Cycling Without Age allows riders to feel the wind in their hair

Burlington chapter to host information sessions next week

The ability to move around town, to walk or ride a bicycle is something most of us take for granted. However, for those confined to sitting at home or living in a long-term care facility, getting outside can be difficult.

A local organization, part of an international movement called Cycling Without Age, has a solution. Why not use specialized bikes, called trishaws, that can transport two passengers and are powered by a cycling "pilot", to travel along paths, walkways and shoreline routes so that others can enjoy the outdoors with safety and comfort in mind?

Cycling Without Age has a Vision: "That every Canadian should have the opportunity to ‘feel the wind in their hair."

Cycling Without Age has had a Burlington/Hamilton chapter since 2020 and has transported more than 500 people on 300 trips in and around their communities.

Using specialized electric pedal-assisted trishaws, each bicycle can carry up to two passengers on an adventure, allowing seniors to explore their neighbourhoods without the physical effort. Rides make passengers smile, bring back memories and allow them to be engage with their community again and thereby renew their appetite for life itself.

Valerie Clements joined the organization in 2021 as a bicycle pilot and has never looked back.

“The seniors come away with this amazing feeling of freedom,” she said. “They relive their childhood in many cases.”

Trips usually last between 45 minutes to an hour. Often at the direction of the riders, the trip allows them to sense the environment and to be present in the moment, and it allows curious people along the way to find out more about Cycling Without Age.

Cycling Without Age Canada is governed by an independent, elected, volunteer Board of Directors. All significant policy and financial decisions are made by way of board-approved policies and resolutions.

Each chapter also has a volunteer advisory board that makes local decisions. Partnerships are formed between the local chapter and seniors’ residences, community groups and, in Burlington, the Seniors’ Centre on New Street.

Cycling Without Age is about creating a multitude of new relationships: between generations, among people of all ages; between pilots and passengers; care home employees and family members. Relationships build trust, happiness and quality of life.

The organization is funded through sponsorships and donations. The local chapter owes a great deal to Hamilton’s New Hope Bikes for keeping the trishaws in operation. Local pilots are trained before they take out their first ride. Often "bike buddies", people riding regular bikes, accompany the trishaw to keep an eye open for traffic dangers and to assist pilots if needed.

“Safety is very important to us and to the people enjoying the ride,” said Clements.

When asked about a memorable ride for her, Clement recalled, “We were running rides out of the Burlington Seniors’ Centre. One rider, a gentleman with dementia who had been non-verbal for some time, at the end of the ride said ‘Thank you, I really enjoyed that.’ That was the first time he had spoken in over a year and a half.”

That’s the power of connection, of freedom, of the feeling of the wind in your hair that Cycling Without Age gives some people.

To find out more about Cycling Without Age or how to become a pilot, webinars will be held on Thursday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday, March 28 at 9:30 a.m.

Links and more information can be found at on the Cycling Without Age website

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Lawson Hunter

About the Author: Lawson Hunter

Lawson Hunter has been a freelance writer for more than 30 years. His articles on technology, the environment, and business have been published in local and national newspapers, magazines and trade publications
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