A small but growing international trend within the older adult population has been reported by McKnight’s Senior Living and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. A new social bike-riding program is attempting to reduce feelings of isolation and increase general positive feelings in older adults. Cycling Without Age, an international movement of volunteers, uses battery-assisted, bicycle-powered rickshaws known as a trishaw to pedal older passengers around for sight-seeing trips and other outings. Volunteers or staff can do the pedaling, while one or two passengers enjoy the view and the conversation.
The program, which is just starting to pop up in the United States, began in Denmark, where the goal was to create positive experiences between multigenerational groups. The idea and the trishaws were then exported to Wisconsin and beyond.
McKnight’s cites that a community in Kentucky has moved from its pilot stage of testing a trishaw to using the vehicles with residents every day. An occupational therapist, Catherine Birchfield, states that there are “reports from nurses that clients seem happier after rides. They sleep better, and they eat more lunch.” This bike-riding system allows residents to get to their locations easily, and to engage in socializing along the way.
The article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy mentions that since this has proven so popular in Denmark, Scotland’s public-health and sport minister announced government funding to roll out the program across the country.
Bowers LA. Program aims to address senior loneliness one ride at a time. McKnight’s Senior Living. September 18, 2018. https://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/home/news/program-aims-to-address-senior-loneliness-one-ride-at-a-time/
Phillips A. Bicycle-powered rickshaws get older people out and about. The Chronicle of Philanthropy. September 5, 2018. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/Nonprofit-Uses-Bicycle/244396