If there’s a silver lining to the Coronavirus curfew, it’s that in many areas it’s renewing a sense of community spirit. It seems that when we’re not fighting over toilet roll, we’re setting up street WhatsApp groups to share food and monitor the vulnerable. It’s possible that this small step towards collectivism might endure beyond the epidemic. We could certainly learn a thing or two about to care for the most vulnerable in society from our Scandinavian cousins.
Like so many of the best cycling ideas, Cycling Without Age was started in Copenhagen. Ole Kassow wanted to help older folk enjoy the freedoms of cycling so he started using rickshaws to offer free rides to the residents of his local nursing home. The municipality of Copenhagen recognised the strength of the idea and helped buy 5 rickshaws, which helped the project spread to all corners of Scandinavia and beyond.
Cycling without Age projects are now springing up from Argentina to Singapore – Britain already boasts a handful – and the organisers are looking for more volunteers.
Cycling Without Age
The Cycling without Age website describes the project’s ethos as follows:
We are all heading on the same path that our grandparents were on. It is an inevitable journey of life. Cycling Without Age reminds us of that relationship with our elders and on our five guiding principles that we abide by.
It starts with the simple act of generosity. Give our time to them when they gave us their care and time. There are a lot of stories to be shared through storytelling from our elders, but also from us. They want to listen to us too and through this bridge we form relationships. We take our time, and the act of cycling slowly helps us take in the experience and appreciate it. Without age is the principle of how life does not end at a given age, but instead we can embrace what each generation has to offer through something as simple as cycling.
Visit the Cycling without Age website to find out more and support the movement.
| politicians in Britain reluctant to support ‘soft measures’
Outreach programmes like Cycling without Age are notoriously difficult to find funding for in Britain. Despite being a proven way of encouraging people onto two wheels, politicians in Britain are reluctant to support such ‘soft measures’ because they don’t have the legacy of physical infrastructure. It’s a short-sighted approach that will see us continue to lag behind other European countries.
Riding a bicycle allows you to be entirely self-reliant, but its real power is the connections it makes possible. It’s hard to cycle without feeling connected with the road, the weather, the way your body is working and, most importantly, with people.
Cycling is an experience never forgotten. When our own Back on a Bike roadshow visited day care centres with our fleet of bikes, the sight of our colourful Pashleys was enough to have folk reminiscing about rides gone by.
The ethical choice
The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance, travel insurance, breakdown cover and home insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.