In 2016, High River Family & Community Support Services, in partnership with the High River Senior’s Collective and Our High River, applied for a grant from the Government of Canada, New Horizons for Senior’s Programs. In February 2017, the Town of High River was the successful recipient of a $25,000 grant for the Cycling Without Age project.
“Cycling Without Age is a well-established international movement out of Copenhagen,” says Caitland Asmundson, community development worker with the Town. “High River is now one of twelve communities in Canada and the third in Alberta to feature this program where volunteer pilots can sign up to offer free bicycle rides for seniors on specially built trishaws.”
The program was started in 2012 by Ole Kassow of the City of Copenhagen. Ole wanted to help seniors get back on their bicycles, and the trishaw provided the perfect solution to limited mobility. He was able to get the initial momentum started on the project by offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents.
Ole then partnered with a civil society consultant to spread the program to all corners of Denmark. Since 2015, Cycling Without Age has spread to another 30 countries around the world including Canmore and Camrose, Alberta.
The Town has now purchased two trishaw bicycles and will provide opportunities for seniors and those with limited mobility to experience riding as a passenger with a volunteer cycling pilot. The project complements the Town’s ‘Rooted in People’ mandate as the front-facing carriage will provide the opportunity for storytelling and conversation between volunteers, seniors and other community members they meet during the ride.
“At first the project focused on purchasing the TrioBike trishaws and offering rides, however, through a partnership with Senior’s Collective, Our High River and local volunteers the project has grown,” adds Asmundson. “High River’s Cycling Without Age project will also include two more elements that will support seniors’ participation in cycling and active transportation in High River.”
Stationary bicycles have been donated by the High River Senior’s Collective and are now located at the Bob Snodgrass Recreation Complex. These will support seniors in developing or re-developing their skills in cycling and will be accessed for free of charge for anyone in the community with seniors having first priority.
“There is also High River’s bicycle donation program led by volunteer Bruce Beauchamp, who repairs donated bicycles and donates them back to individuals in need in the community,” adds Asmundson. “This program will allow seniors who are ready to get back on a bike access to a free or low cost bicycle.”
To learn more about the Cycling Without Age project, please visit http://cyclingwithoutage.org/ In the coming weeks, High River will focus on training the volunteer pilots and then begin offering this service to seniors. Volunteers can sign up to be trishaw drivers, and seniors can book rides around High River through the service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 403-603-3447.