The first Australian Chapter of Cycling Without Age was launched by Danish Ambassador Tom Nørring in Canberra recently.
The Cycling Without Age movement started in 2012 in Copenhagen when young Danish man Ole Kassow wanted to help the elderly get back on their bicycles, and was looking for a solution to their limited mobility. The answer was a trishaw and he started offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents.
Four years on the movement has spread to 28 countries, with 1,000 trishaws and 6000 pilots around the world helping to get the elderly get out of their nursing homes, out on the bikes to enjoy the fresh air and the community around them.
Two purpose-built 'trishaw' bikes kick-started the movement in Australia, which was supported by a Community Grand from IRT Foundation.
"IRT Foundation is thrilled to support Pedal Power ACT and Cycling Without Age to bring this active ageing movement to Australia," says IRT Foundation Manager, Toby Dawson.
"Cycling Without Age enables older people to feel the wind in their hair again, while providing an enriching experience for both the pilot and passengers through slow cycling, storytelling and friendship."
According to Mr Dawson, Pedal Power ACT will mobilise its 7000 members and students from the nearby University of Canberra to recruit and train pilots for the trishaw bikes, which will be maintained by the IRT Kangara Waters Men's Shed.
The bikes will be stationed at IRT Kangara Waters seniors' Lifestyle & Care Community, which will manage a program of regular rides for older members of the community. Cycling Without Age hopes to secure funding support for a third bike at Kangara Waters and to expects to expand the movement to Sydney and Melbourne.
"IRT Foundation is supporting the movement to expand into Australia because it's aligned with our mission to create age-friendly communities,” Mr Dawson continues.
"We want older Australians to have opportunities to enjoy a better quality of life — to participate more fully in social and physical activities, paid employment and civic participation, and to have equal access to community facilities and amenities."
Mr Dawson says the success of the Canberra Cycling Without Age chapter would not be possible without the support of the ACT Minister for Transport Canberra and City Services, Meegan Fitzharris MLA and ACT Minister for Veterans and Seniors, Gordon Ramsay MLA.
"For the Cycling Without Age movement to really take off in Canberra we need more age-friendly paths for cycling and walking, and more support for active ageing in general," he says.
"We're thrilled that Minister Fitzharris and Minister Ramsay showed their support by attending the launch event with Ambassador Nørring, who I know is working hard to bring more Danish trishaws to Australia."
"So when you see us riding on the path around Lake Ginninderra, give us a wave and say hello," says one of the pilots, Pedal Power ACT Vice President, Jeff Ibbotson.