“I Felt Like Royalty.” How These Unique Bikes Are Helping Seniors Tackle Loneliness.

a woman in control of a trishaw bike stopping to smile as her two passengers, an elderly man and woman, also smile

As people get older, it can become more difficult for them to do activities that require a wide range of mobility — but that doesn’t mean they want to stop being active.

Feeling inspired by this realization, Ole Kassow started to offer free bike rides to local nursing home residents in Denmark. To make that possible, he used a trishaw, a bike that includes a two-person bench that’s located at the front so riders can better enjoy the view.

Ole’s bike rides became so popular that, over time, he turned it into a nonprofit called Cycling Without Age. Since then, they’ve gone from having one chapter in Denmark to having chapters in 52 countries!

“We dream of creating a world together, in which the access to active citizenship creates happiness among our fellow elderly citizens by providing them with an opportunity to remain an active part of society and the local community,” their website says.

In order to make these rides accessible to all, they come at absolutely no cost to the rider, something made possible by the royalties the nonprofit makes from their partnerships with trishaw dealers.

Then there’s Scotland. In 2017, the government was so supportive of Cycling Without Age that they decided to charter their services. Now, these rides are available to the elderly and disabled at absolutely no cost in every part of the country!

“It reminds me of when I was a lot younger and able to go out into the countryside,” Christina Ogilvie, one of the riders said. “Yes, that’s what it reminds me of — getting out, walking… I felt like royalty, actually, waving at everybody and everybody waving at us.”

Cycling Without Age is all about making bike rides accessible to the elderly and disabled, but it’s actually so much more than that. In addition to getting some much needed fresh air, these lovely people are given the chance to socialize, something the volunteer pilots enjoy as well.

“This is a great opportunity to help out in the community and to really bring generations together, you know, to be able to see that you’re bringing a smile to people’s faces and to make a difference in their lives,” volunteer pilot Adam Binnie said. “It’s very rewarding for me. It’s a pleasure and a great privilege.”

If the joyous smiles on the faces of these lovely folks wasn’t enough, the Ageing Lab at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh conducted a study to quantify the effects these rides have on people.

They did this by studying the mood, stress, and energy levels of dozens of participants on days where they got at least four rides as well as ones where there were none. Using a scientific scale, they were able to show that these levels strongly improved on days they were given a ride.

“Without a doubt our project can be summarized as being life enriching, life enhancing, and life extending,” Christina Bell, Chief Executive said.

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