Cycling Without Age – Goes International

| May 13, 2015
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Cycling Without Age brings people together. Photo: Municipality of Odense.

The Danish organisation, Cycling Without Age, launches new international campaign to spread the succesful concept to the rest of the world.

Cycling Without Age – Bikes for the World
Now, you too can be part of this magnificent movement. Cycling Without Age now offers royalty-free licenses to everyone who wants to give their local elderly citizens the right to wind in their hair. It’s something everybody can do. The licenses have become so popular that Ole, Dorthe and the rest of the team have just launched a campaign to raise money for these special rickshaws and know-how to be shipped to passionate license-holders around the world. Visit the campaign here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cycling-without-age-bikes-for-the-world.

“It makes me smile in the morning that today someone somewhere will be heading out for a wonderful ride,” says Ole Kassow, “and my dream is that one day these rickshaws will be the focal point for community engagement, compassion and relationships-building in all nursing homes around the world. It’s a crazy ambition, but as soon as you have tried its magic, you’re hooked.”

In countries where cycling is not mainstream Cycling Without Age can thus help put a friendly face on cycling as a way to build human scale, liveable cities.

Want to support the campaign? Click here.

What is Cycling Without Age?

Getting outside, feeling the wind in your hair and sharing stories is what it is all about. Many elderly people are forced to spend a lot of time indoors, and socializing can be a limited joy. Cycling Without Age is a movement that seeks to give elderly people a better life through life-affirming experiences shared with others.

The idea was formed by Ole Kassow back in 2012. He thought that it would be great to let elderly people experience their old neighborhood in a quiet pace with plenty of time for anecdotes. So one day he borrowed a rickshaw, showed up at a local nursing home and asked the staff if anyone would like a ride. Soon after an elderly lady named Gertrud and a member of staff came out and took a seat in the rickshaw and the first ride began.

The ride not only gave Gertrud a chance to go down memory lane, it also created an instant bond between Ole and his two passengers, as soon as Gertrud started telling stories about places she would remember from back in her youth. She explained to her astounded co-riders that the smells, sounds and sights brought back long-forgotten memories. After the trip Ole rode home in a lifted spirit with a feeling that he had discovered something remarkable.

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Cycling Without Age started in 2012 with just one bike. Now, they operate 300 bikes in 250 locations with the help of 2,000 pilots. Photo: Municipality of Odense

Rumors Have It
Rumors about this fantastic first trip quickly spread throughout the nursing home, and it didn’t take long before the demand for trips where higher than Ole could manage on his own. Luckily the rumors had also spread outside the nursing home, so Ole got a call from an employee from the municipality who wanted to invest in 5 rickshaws and place them on different nursing homes. That’s how Cycling Without Age was born.

With that phone call the project caught pace and Ole started organizing a team of volunteers and persuaded other municipalities all around Denmark to buy rickshaws. Today around half the municipalities in Denmark are part of the movement and many others are interested.

There are now over 2,000 volunteers (called pilots) in Denmark and Norway, doing hundreds of rides every day.
“I went on a ride last autumn with two ladies in their 90’s in a small hilly town in the countryside,” explains Ole Kassow. “They were joking that I probably wouldn’t make it up that town hill, but I had a little surprise up my sleeve – an electric assist motor – and we ended up going for a wonderful ride in the local hills.”

The Positive Impact
The positive response from around the country can attributed to the fact that the initiative addresses many important societal challenges. It helps alleviate the number one problem for the elderly: loneliness – by getting them out of their homes or nursing homes and linked up with other generations. A sense of belonging and companionship are critical for a person’s mental well-being, and so Cycling Without Age helps increase the quality of life among the elderly – and the volunteer pilots experience a dopamine rush by their acts of kindness and compassion.

Ole developed several quite unlikely friendships: “Some of my favorite moments are riding with my friend Thorkild, who is a 97-year-old gentlemen from my local nursing home. His joy and wisdom is an inspiration, and we both love heading out for a glass of wine, a bite to eat or just a ride full of singing or chatting.”

Since people around the world are more or less the same, soon other countries wanted to adopt the concept. Today Cycling Without Age, now an official non-profit organization, is represented in 14 countries around the world, from Singapore to the United States and Argentina. Especially European countries are keen to adopt the idea, with Norway now approaching more than 100 rickshaw locations.

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Website: http://cyclingwithoutage.org/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CycleWithoutAge

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cyklingudenalder

Category: Campaigns, Uncategorized