Two passengers being taken on a trishaw training cycle. (Photo courtesy of Cycling Without Age Society)

Two passengers being taken on a trishaw training cycle. (Photo courtesy of Cycling Without Age Society)

Sidney group offers free, fun ‘trishaw’ bike rides to seniors

Physical disability and mental obstruction no barrier to trips around town

A community group is offering free “trishaw” rides to seniors on the Saanich Peninsula.

The trishaw is a sort of bench on wheels, where two people sit and are guided on their journey by a pilot who pedals a modified bike attached to the back of the seat. There is space for a senior and their care attendant, and they are covered by a cozy blanket.

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The organization that came up with the idea nationally is Cycling Without Age, estimated to have around 40 chapters across Canada. The Sidney group is loosely affiliated to this founder organization but is organized as a free-standing non-profit.

The similarly named Cycling Without Age Society decided to go down the stand-alone route as it didn’t want to be restricted to one care facility, like many other affiliates are. They wanted to be able to serve all the care homes in the area and to be able to grow to meet demand.

Eight pilots have been trained, or are undergoing training, and a test run has been completed. Pilots have to possess clean criminal records and valid driving licenses, and are then put through a two day training course, including six hours of trishaw bike training.

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“It’s a treat for Sidney and its residents. We’re doing it as it’s active citizenship, returning people to their community,” says Steve Duck, President of Cycling Without Age Society.

The company hopes to offer its first ride within the next two weeks and plan to offer two rides a day, growing to three a day, as the afternoons grow longer. Trips are tailored to care residences’ schedules and are designed to be stimulating and fun for seniors.

“It’s been such a treat to see the response. We did a trial run and took a gentleman with early-set dementia on a ride. The care staff told us he was having a bad morning but the ride changed his entire day and he still speaks about it,” says Duck.

Duck came across a similar group two years ago and when he saw the joy from seniors he decided to band together with a group of other volunteers to set up their chapter.

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At present they have one $13,000 trishaw and hope to, one day, purchase a fleet of six. The Town of Sidney have given them a grant, as have the Sidney Lions and Russ Hay’s bike shop donated a bike that they raffled to raise funds. Duck says that they are working towards charitable foundation status.

“If I see a nickel rolling down the road I’ll jump on it,” he laughs. “We want people to feel the wind in their hair and have smiles on their faces.”

For more information visit cyclingwithoutagesociety.com.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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