“And you’d look sweet
Upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two!”
Or three, if you count the pilot.
Sandi Evans is hoping to start a Lakeland chapter of Cycling Without Age, an international organization that helps seniors go for a bike ride and feel the wind in their hair.
Evans has organized the Stockings For Seniors project in Cold Lake and Bonnyville the past two Christmas seasons. That project is one of the “spokes” in the Age Friendly Cold Lake organization, and now she would like to bring the bike project to fruition in the same capacity.
Age Friendly Cold Lake is enthusiastically embracing it.
Cycling Without Age uses a special bike, similar to a rickshaw but with the operator at the back. In the front is a bench seat for two passengers. The bike can be operated by pedal power or switched to an electric motor.
The three-wheeled unit is called a “trishaw.”
“It started in Copenhagen back in 2012,” Evans said. “It's really geared to the senior community or to individuals that have mobility issues who can't get out into the fresh air and socialize.”
The trishaw creates opportunities for conversations between the passengers. Even better, Evans said, it allows the pilot (as the operator is called) to participate.
“With my journeys with stockings for seniors and everything else, I'm seeing how people's faces light up when they have interaction, especially with the intergenerational interaction,” she said.
“It's a win-win because a pilot gets to enjoy that interaction with the passengers as well.”
The pilots would be volunteers. Evans says that because of the bikes’ electric motor, they don’t have to be super-fit. But if someone wants to be helpful while getting a workout, they can propel the trishaw on pedal power.
The travelling speed is governed by strict limits for safety and for ease of conversation.
If a local Cycling Without Age chapter is established, Evans would like to have three trishaws in Cold Lake and three in Bonnyville. With each unit costing $7,000, there’s fundraising to be done.
But she’s finding that other people share her excitement about the project. “I've been kind of doing dribs and drabs of dropping information, and the feedback I'm getting is huge. So I'm excited, and I'm hoping that it will come to fruition this year.”
Obviously the Covid-19 pandemic might affect the fundraising and the rollout. She hopes to have a trishaw in the Cold Lake Canada Day parade, but she is willing to aim for next year if 2020 doesn’t work out.
“I'm kind of nervous to ask for donations because the time and what we're going through,” she said. “But on the other hand, what better way to alleviate isolation?”