Cycling Without Age

November 20, 2018

In your own words, tell us about your project.
Cycling Without Age offers the opportunity to take residents of nursing and care homes out for free, slow-cycling spins, piloted by volunteer cyclists, on specially designed trishaw bicycles. Launched in Ireland in June 2017, we now have sixteen trishaws operating in different parts of Ireland, with more bikes on order. this is a world-wide voluntary activity, run and promoted by volunteers.  Our trishaws, pedal-powered with a battery assist option, are sustainable, as cycling is clean, green, silent and healthy for both pilots and passengers. Residents in homes are now getting out for spins, feeling the wind in their hair, going to the park, to the sea and along greenways. Stopping to chat with people, share a coffee or an ice-cream, feed the ducks, sing songs, tell stories. Their response when asked the best thing about Cycling Without Age is Freedom!  No-one chooses to get old or infirm.  Fun should not cease because we are no longer able to get out and about. Fresh air, the pleasure of movement, connecting with their communities are all met by Cycling Without Age being available to people. This voluntary activity has become, for me, an almost full-time job, with enquiries every day. As a keen cyclist and long-time environmentalist, I promote cycling in many ways, including safer cycling, off-road and greenway routes, bicycle parking and encouraging people to leave their cars and get cycling. Cycling Without Age cannot be replicated for the passengers. It offers the most magical experience of movement and participation, making them able to feel part of their communities once again. Freed from their inabilities for whatever reason they fly along, benefiting from such stimulation that even dementia and non-verbal passengers begin to engage and smile. The transformation has to be seen to realise the benefits.
Why did you do this work?
I brought Cycling Without Age from Denmark to Ireland because I heard about it in 2016 and loved the concept. As a keen cyclist and environmentalist, I could see how good these trishaw bicycles would be for residents, their carers and families, the pilots and the wider community. Self-employed since 1995, I have run many conferences, lectures and events for the Environmental Protection Agency, and cycling is seriously environmentally-friendly. Conscious that Ireland has many obesity-related health issues, I set out to promote cycling in many ways. Promoting the S2S,, the Sutton to Sandycove Cycleway, and encourage other off-road routes such as Greenways, I thought that if we have off-road routes then we could bring the CWA trishaw bicycles on these routes for safe and pollution-free rides for our elders and those no long able to get out in the fresh air and the wind. The pilots are essential to this. They volunteer their time, their energy, their enthusiasm and their commitment to giving something back. Since I launched in June 2017, I now have over 350 supporters on a database and the Facebook Group has almost 200 members. We have 16 bikes operating in different parts of Ireland, with more on order. I spend a lot of time promoting this project because I believe in it and the benefits Cycling Without Age can bring to those who can no longer get out on their own. Freedom, the word keeps coming back to me. It is what I want to offer people. As a 67-year old, just getting over breast cancer, I want to offer something sustainable in the sense of both environmental and lasting benefits to those who need a bit of fun and freedom.
What was the impact or outcome of your project?
This story is just one example of the impact Cycling Without Age is having:

“On behalf of myself, the residents and families that have taken trips out with the volunteers and myself we want to say a sincere thank you to you all for your support, sponsorship, guidance and good humour. The trishaw has brought so many opportunities for our residents that they just would never have had without it. I took a spin out yesterday with a lady and her niece, she has significant issues and usually spends long periods of the day in bed.  Yesterday was the first time she agreed to leave the unit in months and she opened up like a flower when we cycled thought the tree-lined streets of Dublin 8 and around the area she used to live in. This project is making a real difference to our residents’ quality of life.”   From Bellvilla Community Hospital in Dublin 8. Their trishaw has been sponsored by Zendesk, the software company, whose staff are their pilots.

One unexpected outcome was that several companies have come on board to sponsor trishaws, using their CSR (corporate social responsibility) budgets and programmes. Canada Life Re-Insurance have sponsored two and are planning to sponsor their third trishaw in 2019. Two schools TY (transition year) students have set up mini-companies to fund-raise to buy bikes and they get to choose where their bike goes. Healthy Ireland has also, via some Local Sports Partnerships, sponsored five bikes to date. Thus, the impact is far wider than just the benefits to the passengers. It is bringing the community of Ireland together, in support of a worthwhile project that is sustainable and healthy in every way. Pilots are volunteering, spreading the word and signing up to participate.


Do you have any tips or advice for similar projects?
If you have an idea and the time and energy to pursue it, then go for it! Everyone can think of all the reasons why you might not /should not/can't do it. But, your belief is what matters. Bring people on board who will support you and be positive. Run it like a business, even if it is a voluntary project. Keep careful records, be prompt and efficient in responding to enquires. Use social media and ask for help with the bits you cannot do. Your energy, your belief, your positivity are the things that will make your idea succeed.
Which Sustainable Development Goals does your work link to?
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Location of Project
HQ at Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Trishaws all over Ireland
Contact Person
Clara Clark
Email Address
Contact Number
087-2515439; 01- 2898533