Life Cycle bike reconnects generations
From Copenhagen to Camrose, the Life Cycle bike has been bringing joy to people all over the world.
Cycling Without Age was an initiative started up by Ole Kassow, a Danish man living in Copenhagen who biked to work every day. On his journeys to work he passed by an old man who sat out in the sun enjoying the outdoors. Later, Kassow was looking through some photos of Copenhagen in the 1930s and noticed that everyone was on their bike. He thought that the old man in the sun probably rode his bike to work every day as well. One day, Kassow rented a rickshaw and went to the local nursing home and offered to take someone out on a ride. Kassow then started taking residents out on rides in his free time and they absolutely loved it.
After writing a letter to the City of Copenhagen, Kassow received word back and eventually the city bought a bike for every nursing home in the city.
From that moment, Cycling Without Age has exploded all over the world. There are more than 300 chapters across 29 countries and 3,000 volunteers that take people out on bike rides for those who cannot ride bikes anymore.
Through the Camrose Public Library, Maren Warming, one of the people who work at Cycling Without Age visited Camrose last week. She went to the Bethany Group residence to pick up Ross Anderson and take him for a ride. Stopping off at the Lefse House, a Norwegian coffee shop, Ross told stories of coming there back in the day and buying goods every week.
It is rides like this that are happening all over the world, and Warming says it brings her a lot of joy to give people rides on the bike.
“When I started, I thought I was going to be doing volunteer work because I want to give something,” she said. “What I experienced was when I go out on these rides, you receive a lot. It gives a lot to me and it lightens up my day as well as theirs.”
When Warming is back in Denmark cruising around Copenhagen with people, she says it allows her to learn so much more about the city that wouldn’t be found in a history book.
“I’ve only been living in Copenhagen for five years, some of the residents that I take out have been living there their whole lives,” she said. “When I take them out they always have so many stories about Copenhagen that I have never heard of.”
The ability to let someone feel the wind in their hair is what Cycling Without Age is all about.
“Even if you’re close to 100 years old, life can, and should be beautiful,” Kassow said at a TED talk in 2014.
Cycling Without Age is typically meant for senior homes, but Camrose is a unique because the library owns the bike.
“I just think it’s a wonderful idea, we want to see how it’s working and maybe encourage other libraries around the world to do the same thing,” Warming said. “We really want the community and the neighbourhood to be involved in this bike. This bike should be for everyone, not just the nursing homes.”
Cycling Without Age is constantly looking for more ideas on utilizing the bike, and they don’t have a lot of rules and regulations to set up a chapter.
“If anyone has a good idea of how this bike can be used to give more people wind in their hair I would say just go and do it,” Warming said.
The library is open to having more people volunteer and the coordinator of the Life Cycle bike at the Camrose Public Library, Val Brown, says it’s fairly easy to get used to.
“It’s not as hard as it looks, it’s got an intimidating look to it,” she said. “It does have a battery assist so it makes it a breeze to get people going and even though it’s a big bike you just need some practice to figure out how to manoeuvre it.”
While on the road, people are accommodating to the large trishaw.
“It is a novelty, so people aren’t ripping by us,” Brown said. “There’s not much risk being out on the road, people definitely respond well to it.”
If you are interested in volunteering with the Cycling Without Age program, contact Val at Val@prl.ab.ca or call the library.