Cycling Without Age, voluntary rickshaws service for older people
Cycling Without Age
Voluntary service to promote active ageing and good treatment of older people, from the creation of new intergenerational relationships to combat unintended isolation and loneliness.
Cycling Without Age allows the elderly to feel emotion again and the freedom of a bicycle ride in which they can feel “the wind in their hair”. The service is made possible by voluntary people of all ages, who offer themselves to ride elderly people in two-seat rickshaws to recover a type of mobility that many of these people can no longer experience because of their old age.
It is a service that provides an improvement in the quality of life of both voluntaries and users. For the former it can be a way to exercise, connect with the community and other people and create unexpected relationships; and for the elderly it means to feel freer and avoid unwanted loneliness and isolation: during the rides they can tell personal stories while visiting the city or territory where they have lived all or part of their lives and rememorize episodes they can share with the volunteer and other participants.
There is no fixed timetable for rides or volunteers, but everyone decides how much time they can and want to contribute, making Cycling Without Age an activity that is done for the pleasure of doing it, not out of obligation.
It is an activity that began in Denmark, where bicycles are widely used, but has spread rapidly to 51 countries around the world, among which Catalonia, where it’s called “En bici sense edat”, making this experience available for more people. The Catalan initiative “En bici sense edad” is already present today in four Catalan cities and in April 2021 it received the prize of Social Innovation Maria Figueras i Mercè Bañeras from Plataforma Educativa.
Cycling Without Age doesn’t have a direct and stable source of funding. Instead, it is financed by private donations, the support of some public administrations of the countries where it’s located, crowdfunding campaigns, selling the official rickshaws, etc.
Cycling Without Age is a movement initiated by Ole Kassow in 2012 in the city of Copenhagen, Denmark. The goal was to help older people to be able to go back to their bicycles, at the same time as finding a solution for their limited mobility: rickshaws. The founder established contact with the municipality of Copenhagen and together they bought the 5 first rickshaw with which the service started.
Level of implementation
At this moment, Cycling Without Age is represented in 51 countries, 2.500 locations, 3.500 rickshaws, 35.000 trained pilots (volunteers) and more than 1.9 million people served. Furthermore, in some countries there have been studies showing clear improvement in the quality of life of the users of this service.