Bicycle built for three brought to Palmerston North elderly

Olive Tree residents Betsy Bruere and Helen Holterman with Dorthe Pedersen from Cycling Without Age, and pilot Mike ...
Richard Mays/Fairfax NZ

Olive Tree residents Betsy Bruere and Helen Holterman with Dorthe Pedersen from Cycling Without Age, and pilot Mike Walker peeping over the top, prepare to take the new tri-bike for a whirl.

A re-evaluation of what it means to be retired has arrived at Palmerston North's Olive Tree Village.

It's a bicycle built for three that allows elderly people to get out for a bike ride and feel the wind in their hair, even if mobility is an issue.

Helmets are not required because, technically, a bicycle built for three is not a bike - it's a tri-shaw.

With three wheels and a cosy sheltered bench seat for two up front, the third rider of this pedal-assist machine gets to, quite literally, be the back-seat driver, propelling the two passengers along. 

Pedal-assist means the tri-shaw has a rechargeable electric motor, good for 30 kilometres or so, to help with hills, head winds and the weight of three people.

Cycling Without Age, a global concept started in Denmark four years ago is now in 27 countries and is in the process of being introduced to New Zealand by Arvida Retirement Care.

Cycling Without Age co-founder Dorthe Pedersen came from Denmark to launch Cycling Without Age in Arvida's New Zealand retirement communities. Pedersen said the bike relied on volunteer "pilots" to pedal residents around.

"The whole purpose is to provide access to places that people enjoy."

The Esplanade was a popular destination with Olive Tree residents who turned out for the official launch.

Pedersen said Cycling Without Age fostered the idea of "neighbourship" and helped create "new witnesses to our life stories".

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"We don't want people stored away. We want your stories and experience and wisdom to be passed on to younger generations, and to be shared."

Pedersen said the bike had made a real difference in people's lives - including the 20 Danes in a care facility who rode them 300 kilometres over five days to a village in Norway.

"It's important that it's a slow ride," Pedersen said.

"The ride is really about relationships... about engaging with one another and communicating. It's redefining what it is to be older."

Olive Tree's Robyn Ballard said the aim now was to pull together a good team of volunteer pilots.

The bike had made its first public appearance at September's Alzheimer's Memory Walk, enabling people to take part who otherwise wouldn't have been able to attend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 - Stuff

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