When we launched Cycling Without Age on 13th June 2017 in the People’s Park Dun Laoghaire, I had a dream. It was that older and mobility-impaired people should have fun and the chance to get out and about, regardless of ability or age. No-one chooses to get old, disabled, mobility-impaired, or lose their independence. I could not have dreamt that one year on, there would be 13 trishaw bikes operating all over Ireland (with more on order), taking nursing and care home residents and people in the community out for free spins to ‘feel the wind in their hair’, piloted by volunteers. My dream has now become your dream too and I feel honoured and thank you for that.
Ministerial Support: Transport Minister Shane Ross TD announced on RTE Radio’s Sean O’Rourke Show (31st May) in a discussion about rickshaws, that “It’s the commercial element we would ban. There is a group, Cycling Without Age, we wouldn’t want to ban them”. Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD, came to meet me at an Elder Care show at the RDS (1st June) for an update on our progress. From Clonakilty, Co. Cork where one of the first trishaws operates, he was delighted to hear of our speedy growth.
Trishaw locations and funding: To date, there are three bikes in Co. Cork – two in Cork City and one in Clonakilty. Five in Dublin: in Clontarf, Raheny, Santry, South Circular Road and Shankill, Co. Dublin. One in Sligo, one in Waterford, one in Wexford and two in Leitrim. Of these, five have been sponsored by corporates, five with grant aid from Healthy Ireland, and the rest with a combination of fund-raising and matching sponsorship. So, we know that there are several ways for you to get a bike in your area!
Community Bikes: Not all bikes have gone to nursing/care homes. We have three bikes that are operating in the community, with a booking system for people to sign up, both as passengers and as pilots. I can give you more details on request.
Awards: Social Entrepreneurs Ireland gave us a cash award which helped us to get pull-up banners and brochures printed. We use these to promote the branding and get the message out. KBC Bright Ideas gave a cash grant to Kilkenny CWA who are fund-raising for their bike. The People Newspaper Group honoured me with a Volunteer of the Year Award certificate.
Schools Support: Transition Year (TY) students in two schools, St. Conleth’s in Dublin and Newtown School in Waterford are fund-raising to donate bikes to their chosen care homes. This is a great social enterprise model that other schools might like to copy.
Pilot-Training: I have now pilot-trained most of those who recently took charge of new trishaws, as well as interested volunteer pilots. A document on Piloting Tips is available on request, as well as a short video. We are now beginning to standardise and formalise pilot training protocols.
New Bike Launches: Seven of the new trishaws arrived in April. In the past few weeks three of these have held very successful launches, with more to follow. The launches are great opportunities to spread the word, invite the media, engage with the public and start the serious business of having fun!
Facebook Group: Not everyone is on Facebook I know. But, for those who are, the easiest and quickest way of keeping you informed of our progress is via our open Facebook Group, Cycling Without Age – Ireland. Feel free to join up. We already have 127 members!
Cycle-Friendly routes: Provision/access to off-road cycle-friendly routes is essential to making CWA journeys safe and enjoyable. Please lobby your local authorities and TDs to develop access to parks, greenways, blue-ways, the S2S (www.s2s.ie) around Dublin Bay and other off-road tracks to cater for CWA trishaws, which are 1.1m wide at the front.