Cycling without Age is a new voluntary initiative to bring nursing and care home residents for a cycle on a trishaw bike
Cycling Without Age, a new national voluntary initiative which takes residents of nursing and care homes out for a slow spin on a trishaw bicycle, was recently launched in the People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire.
The idea behind Cycling Without Age is that unpaid volunteers, called pilots, sign up for bike rides with the elderly. Passengers get the opportunity to feel the wind in their hair, explore their local neighbourhood, share stories with their pilot, have fun and enjoy a whole new outdoor experience.
Those in the South County Dublin area may have been surprised to see ‘Daisy’ the trishaw bike making the 5km journey towards the People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire from Leopardstown in time for the official launch which saw people of all ages coming out to celebrate this exciting new initiative, including some local nursing home residents who came out to give the bike a go.
Behind the idea is cycling enthusiasts, husband and wife team Clara Clark and Charles Mollan (in their 60’s and 70’s respectively) who have brought this concept to Ireland. The duo started the not-for-profit project by buying the first trishaw bicycle (nick-named ‘Daisy’ – a bicycle made for two!) out of their personal funds because they feel so passionately about cycling and the right to ‘the wind in your hair’ wanting to bring the joy of cycling to elderly people. The initiative is already proving hugely popular with nursing and care home residents.
Speaking at the launch, Clara said, “When you ask nursing home residents what the best thing is about the Cycling Without Age experience, they say Freedom! The chance to get out and have fun! This is exactly what we envisaged when we brought the idea to Ireland. Being in a nursing home should not mean the end of having fun, getting out and about and feeling the wind in your hair. Imagine the wonderful feeling of getting out on a bike and safely and slowly exploring your neighbourhood, stopping to chat, see the sights, and the exhilarating feeling of riding along as though you are cycling yourself. That’s what Cycling Without Age offers!”
There is also a very important social need for this kind of engagement, explains Clara, “It is such an important thing for people in nursing and care homes to feel connected to the community. A recent report from the Citizens’ Assembly on the care of the elderly in Ireland had a quote from a 95 year old nursing home resident who said some interaction between members of the local community and nursing home residents would be welcome. ‘There are people here who have no visitors’, he said. ‘Unless you can get out there’s no contact with the outside community’. This in a nutshell is why we brought Cycling Without Age to Ireland and already we can see the effect it has on people” says the co-founder.
Cycling Without Age has already attracted a lot of interest from the business community, with several organisations putting in their orders to sponsor bikes for local nursing homes across Ireland. They intend to engage their staff as ‘pilots’ as part of their CSR programmes.
The launch took place during bike week which this year celebrates the 200th anniversary of the bicycle.
Co-founder Charles (74) says, “For a certain generation cycling was a way of life. This experience brings back a lot of memories for them. We took a lady out for a spin recently and her son said he hadn’t seen her laugh like that in years. You can’t underestimate the effect this can have on someone’s morale”
Joining the celebrations today was Ole Kassow, the founder of the Cycling Without Age Copenhagen branch who was in Dublin for the launch. He spoke passionately about the positive impact Cycling Without Age is already having on people’s lives in Denmark and the impact it could have in Ireland.
Clara Clark and Charles Mollan were recently recognised by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland for leading the Cycling Without Age initiative. The duo were awarded a place at the Academy for Social Entrepreneurs which supports high-potential social entrepreneurs with innovative new ideas for social change in Ireland.
“We are delighted to get behind such an innovative idea,” says Darren Ryan, CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. “Cycling Without Age is a prime example of the exciting innovations happening in the area of social entrepreneurship. It’s so encouraging to see people like Clara and Charles creating a new future for Irish society, coming up with entrepreneurial ideas to make Ireland a better place to live for people of all ages and we look forward to seeing where it goes from here.”