September 20, 2017
A right to feel wind
The 30 basic human rights contained in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights are pretty wide ranging but the specific right to feel wind in your hair is probably not one of them. Nonetheless, it was the thought that elderly residents of a care home were being denied this simple pleasure that kick-started the Cycling Without Age movement. Founded in Denmark by Ole Kassow, local ‘chapters’ are springing up across the world and now we have one in Scotland. Using purpose built tricycles, elderly residents of Falkirk can be seen spinning along their local cycle paths.
Cycling Without Age is a movement started in 2012 by Ole Kassow. Ole wanted to help the elderly get back on their bicycles, but he had to find a solution to their limited mobility. The answer was a trishaw and he started offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents.
He then got in touch with a civil society consultant from the City of Copenhagen, Dorthe Pedersen (now Cycling Without Age), who was intrigued by the idea and together they bought the first 5 trishaws and launched Cycling Without Age, which has now spread to all corners of Denmark, and since 2015 to another 33 countries around the world.
We dream of creating a world together, in which the access to active citizenship creates happiness among our fellow elderly citizens by providing them with an opportunity to remain an active part of society and the local community. Watch this to see how much it means to some of Falkirk’s elderly citizens.
We do that by giving them the right to wind in their hair, the right to experience the city and nature close up from the bicycle and by giving them an opportunity to tell their story in the environment where they have lived their lives.
That way we build bridges between generations and we reinforce trust, respect and the social glue in our society.
Our Guiding Principles
Generosity: Cycling Without Age is based on generosity and kindness. It starts with the obvious generous act of taking one or two elderly or less-abled people out on a bike ride. It’s a simple act that everyone can do.
Slowness: Slowness allows you to sense the environment, be present in the moment and it allows people you meet along the way to be curious and gain knowledge about Cycling Without Age because you make time to stop and talk.
Storytelling: Elderly people have so many stories that will be forgotten if we don’t reach out and listen to them. We tell stories, we listen to stories on the bike and we also document the stories when we share them via word of mouth or on social media.
Relationships: Cycling Without Age is about creating a multitude of new relationships: between generations, among the elderly, between pilots and passengers, nursing homes employees and family members. Relationships build trust, happiness and quality of life.
Without Age: Life does not end when you turn 75. Life unfolds at all ages, young and old, and can be thrilling, fun, sad, beautiful and meaningful. Cycling Without Age is about letting people age in a positive context – fully aware of the opportunities that lie ahead when interacting in their local community.
How It Works
Volunteers (pilots) sign up for bike rides with the elderly as often or as rarely as they want to. It’s all driven by people’s own motivation. At present (September 2017) more than 450 chapters around the world offer Cycling Without Age from well over 1,500 trishaws – and the numbers are still growing. More than 10,000 pilots ensure that the elderly get out of their nursing homes, out on the bikes to enjoy the fresh air and the community around them. They give them the right to wind in their hair.