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No such thing as a free ride? You haven’t seen a trishaw

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Jane Hu calls it the happiest vehicle on earth.

When the Cycling Without Age bike heads out for a spin, the smiles are warm and the camaraderie even warmer.

“I enjoy every minute of it,” says 80-year-old Doris Williams. The Point Edward resident was an avid cyclist until around age 70 and misses the sense of freedom only a bike ride can provide.

Now the uniquely-designed Cycling Without Age trishaw – a rickshaw with the seats in front of the cyclist – has enabled Williams to enjoy the great outdoors on wheels again.

“I may have been a little concerned when I first got on,” she said.  “But we haven’t gone anywhere — whether it’s to the water, the bush or Centennial Park — where I wasn’t happy.

“And as we go along, everyone smiles and waves at you.”

That’s the essence of Cycling Without Age, says her daughter Jane Hu.

Hu grew up in Point Edward and moved to Alberta years ago. When she discovered the worldwide movement that enables seniors and those with mobility issues to enjoy a simple bike ride again free-of-charge, she thought of her mother.

“I started volunteering with Cycling Without Age four years ago at our cottage in Canmore,” she said. “Knowing that my mom couldn’t ride anymore, I wanted to bring it home.”

She is so committed to the non-profit organization that Hu is now the Canadian captain for the movement and helping establish chapters across the country.

She also started a social enterprise that manufactures and sells Cycling Without Age trishaws at no profit.

Canada currently has 57 chapters, many administered through municipalities and long-term care facilities. Point Edward is the latest to form this summer and Hu is working on establishing several others in Sarnia-Lambton.

She has yet to find an administrator for Point Edward. Meanwhile, she donated the $7,000 needed to buy the trishaw and recruited village firefighters to store it at their hall. She’s also trained seven volunteers to pilot the bikes.

One of them is Point Edward resident Kate Burgess, who has offered to help co-ordinate the program when Hu returns to Calgary.

“Cycling Without Age is so unique,” said Burgess. As a nurse who has cared for aging family members, she says the experience can be invaluable.

“How else are you going to get out on a bike? There’s nothing like feeling the wind on your face or seeing the waves at the beach.”

Burgess frequently takes passengers along the waterfront and through the nature trails in Canatara Park.

“I just like older people,” she said. “I like hearing all the stories they tell me about our community as we go along.”

There are benefits for both volunteers and passengers, Hu said. The volunteers enrich their lives with new friendships and the satisfaction of helping others, and passengers enjoy an experience they thought they’d lost.

“We took (retired fishery owner) Milford Purdy down onto the beach using those accessibility mats and just happened to be there when the boys were pulling in the (fishing) nets,” Hu said.

“It was really special for him. He hadn’t been at the beach for years.”

The Point Edward Cycling Without Age chapter takes bookings for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every weekday. Each free ride lasts about an hour and leaves from the fire hall on Michigan Avenue. If necessary, passengers can be picked up at home within the village.

Contact Kate Burgess for details at 519-312-3736 or [email protected].


Invented in 2012 in Copenhagen

Represented in 42 countries worldwide

1,643 chapter locations

29,270 trained cycle pilots

114,000 people served

Oldest pilot is 90 (Jørgen Hass, Denmark) and oldest passenger 107 (Madam Yeo Iu, Singapore)

Source:  Cycling Without Age


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