The role of the bicycle as a simple, clean and affordable means of transportation is supported by the United Nations every year thereafter World Bicycle Day, set June 3rd.
In his message for today, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres He said Cycling was “good for one’s health – physically and mentally – and good for our one planet. Bicycles are fashionable and practical, providing exercise and transporting us not just to school, stores and work but to a more sustainable future.”
As we get older, our eyes, legs, and general physical condition begin to limit our ability to rotate. Older people, often grudgingly, stop cycling for fear of getting injured, and giving up the freedom and joy that cycling has brought them. So how can we help older people get back to riding their bikes, despite their limited mobility?
Riding a bike changes life
Like many Danes, Ole Kasu commutes to work by bike. When passing a nursing home, he noticed an elderly man, helping him to walk next to him, watching people pass by. His name was Thorkild, and Mr. Cassow wondered how much the freedom that cycling would bring to people with limited mobility?
He decided to rent a rickshaw and head to the nursing home, hoping to offer the residents a ride. His first passenger was Gertrude, who asked to go to the Langley district of Copenhagen. It was a special place for her; She had emigrated to Greenland after World War II and it was here where ships from Greenland used to dock. She listed all the details and over the course of an hour they formed a bond. The experience was enriching for both the passenger and the passenger. The next day, the nursing home manager called and asked what he had done, before quickly adding that all the other residents now wanted a ride, too.
Mr. Casso reached out to Dorothy Pedersen, a civil society consultant from Copenhagen, who sparked his interest in the idea and together bought five wheelbarrows.
They were outfitted with new rickshaws, rounded up volunteer passengers and took 10 nursing home residents on a ride. By word of mouth only, register 30 new volunteers by the next day. Soon other cities in Denmark wanted to get involved and it has continued to grow ever since. Today, the movement has spread to 50 countries around the world, with more than 2,500 branches.
Fighting age discrimination
“The bicycle is a tie factor, across generations, social boundaries, and countries, and it’s a great tool for creating intergenerational relationships,” says Mr. Casso.
Among its goals, ageless cycling is keen to challenge ageism and discrimination based on a person’s age. It does this by creating intergenerational relationships, between pilots and passengers, care home staff and family members.
“Relationships are so important that they should be enshrined as a human right, the right to associate. Then we will not build cities and communities in ways that prevent people from forming relationships.”
Relationships help build trust, create happiness, and improve the quality of life. It is key to preserving the stories of older generations that would otherwise be forgotten. Volunteer riders interact with their riders, listen to their stories and in turn share those stories with their friends and family, ensuring that they endure over time.
The movement showed how even a simple bike ride can have profound effects on the lives of elderly people with limited mobility. Comments from nursing homes speak of residents who haven’t spoken in years telling neighbors of their cycling adventures and their souls being raised in nursing homes as a result of riding a horse. For those with visual impairments, it was about feeling the wind in their hair, and absorbing smells and sounds.
Ageless Cycling members believe that nursing home life should be a place of joy and constant mobility, and they encourage everyone to invite an elderly neighbor, or a complete stranger, on a ride through cities and landscapes, and in doing so help create a better life.