Cycling Without Age (CWA) offers voluntary, sustainable, accessible, inclusive, free and fun cycle rides on a specially designed trishaw bicycle to people of all ages and abilities. Launched in Ireland in 2017, it has grown to 43 trishaws operating all around Ireland. Founded in Denmark in 2012 and now in over 40 countries, CWA is a voluntary initiative to take people who can no longer for reasons of age or mobility issues cycle for themselves out for spins in their local community, piloted by volunteer pilot cyclists.
Many of our 43 trishaws are based in care homes, community hospitals and day care centres. But local authorities and Local Sports Partnerships are now sponsoring trishaws for community-based rides, so that people living at home can book free cycle rides. This brings CWA into the heart of our communities, making older and less mobile people more visible, connected and engaged in their community. The Councils see this as part of their active sustainable travel initiatives, and commitment to social partnership.
For example, DLR Council and Sports Partnership has sponsored two trishaws, operating from a social enterprise, www.thebikehub.ie in Dún Laoghaire. A team of volunteer pilots provides the service, and companies such as Teddy’s Ice-cream and Go-Car have come on board with offers of free ice-cream for our passengers and bike transport where necessary.
Cycling Without Age is a philosophy of how to accept people of all ages and abilities as they are. We offer them space to enjoy their world in their own time and in a way they can appreciate. No-one chooses to get older, disabled or mobility impaired. When these things happen, life should not become boring or confined. Whether you live in a care home or your own home, getting out to explore and enjoy ‘the wind in your hair’ is vitally important – physically, mentally, psychologically, and emotionally.
Piloting is a valuable social volunteering activity. Pilots range in age from nineteen to people in their eighties. They are motivated by many things: giving something back, love of cycling, a relaxing and stimulating hobby, the chance to meet new people, or to fill a gap after a partner dies or children leave home.
Trishaws are sponsored by corporates, some of whose staff are pilots as part of their CSR programmes. Sponsors include local authorities, local sports partnerships, the HSE, Healthy Ireland and individual fund-raising. As a volunteer handling all the promotion, marketing, branding, social media and website, pilot training and logistics advice, I get daily enquiries asking how to become involved in CWA. It is magical to see this grow from an idea in 2017 to a national initiative now!
Clara Clark, Irish Founder, CYCLING WITHOUT AGE
Image right: Pilot Clara Clark with passengers Charles Mollan (Clara’s husband) and John O’Keeffe. Photo by Moya Nolan.