Our twilight years don’t have to mean it’s time to stop pushing the pedals, thanks to the efforts of Cycling Without Age Australia.
Being on a bike connects us with our communities and gives us a sense of belonging. That’s why riding is a great activity for combating feelings of isolation that can creep in as we age.
Community program Cycling Without Age harnesses the power of bike riding to support older people, helping them connect and keep moving.
Sydney group BIKEast won a matched grant in 2018 from the City of Sydney and Woollahra Council for $16,000 for a Cycling Without Age program.
The money was used to purchase and fit a custom-built electric-assisted trishaw, which carries a volunteer rider and 2 passengers in front.
BIKEast’s 16 volunteer pilots have so far pedalled the joy of bike riding into the lives of 92 older people from local care homes.
“A carer came to me after one of our rides,” said volunteer rider Laura Cunningham.
“She said one older woman in her care had been lying on her bed in her room, depressed and not wanting to go out. After taking part in the ride the woman was bright and alert, had colour in her cheeks and was like a different, happier person.
“One of our regular care home passengers at Rushcutters Bay sings all the way while cycling.
“Another loves to meet dogs out for their walks, which makes for slow but happy progress. Some people lift up their dogs so she can pat them.
“I took an elderly couple out who have been married for over 65 years. They held hands in the trishaw and sang “Daisy, Daisy” over and over again, laughing and smiling. ‘I feel like a young girl!’ the woman said.”
If you have a great idea for a community initiative and could do with some help bringing it to life, check out the City of Sydney’s grants and sponsorship program.