Wick's rickshaw-style bike will bring enjoyment of cycling to those less able
WICK Wheelers have taken delivery of a rickshaw-style Triotaxi and will soon be rolling out a new community scheme bringing the enjoyment of cycling to people not able to pedal for themselves.
Costing around £8000, the three-wheeled bike went out for its maiden journey on Wednesday with Wick historian Iain Sutherland, now resident at Pulteney House care home, in the passenger seat along with his daughter Helen Hill. Mr Sutherland's late wife Maisie was a keen member of the Wick Wheelers many years ago.
Mr Sutherland (83), who hadn't been out on a bike for around 70 years, said: "It's a grand thing. I am very pleased with it."
After being taken for a cycle down along the Braehead and past his old house in Smith Terrace, he said the experience had been "very good" and he had been kept quite cosy in the blanket.
Behind the new idea is George Ewing, a long-standing member of the local cycling club.
After seeing a photo of a Triobike he went on the manufacturer's website to find out more. "I thought it would be a good idea to integrate the cycling club," he said.
George, a former policeman, said he then took on the job of trying to source funding and was helped by Caithness Voluntary Group and Befriending Caithness. Money towards the venture was received from the SSE Beatrice Local Community Fund, the Dounreay Communities Fund and the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council.
George, who now works as a part-time photocopy engineer, pointed out: "It will be a social thing, allowing people to go along and reminisce.
“We will go at walking pace so they can feel comfortable and secure, and stop to have a blether. Cycling is more than people going pell-mell around the countryside."
He hopes the experience will benefit elderly and less able members of the community, allowing them to enjoy the sensation of cycling without the effort, improving the quality of their life in the process and fostering relations.
George joined Wick Wheelers when he was around 17 and takes part in local cycling events as well as having a keen interest in triathlons.
Response to the Triotaxi, which is electrically assisted, has been good with lots of people volunteering to help out. For now, though, only members of Wick Wheelers can pilot the bike for insurance reasons.
We will go at walking pace so they can feel comfortable and secure, and stop to have a blether.
They are thinking about affiliating with a group such as Cycling Without Age which would mean that other people could help out.
"I would be happy to hear from anyone interested," George said. "We would not want to deter anyone."
Explaining that the club was still very much in the planning stage and still needed to sort out rotas, George said: “At the moment we are operating through Facebook and the club website, as well as word of mouth.
"There are still a few things to iron out, but the hope is to be up and running as of April next year. It is not the weather just now."
The bike, which is about 2.3 metres long and just over a metre wide, has seating in the front for two passengers, with a blanket available for colder weather.
On Monday, George took the Triotaxi out to Watten village hall, where he was the guest speaker for the local befriending volunteers' meeting.
Cycling Without Age is a movement started in 2012 by Ole Kassow, from Denmark. Ole wanted to help elderly people 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 nursing home residents.
He then got in touch with a civil society consultant from the City of Copenhagen, Dorthe Pedersen, who was intrigued by the idea and together they bought five trishaws and launched Cycling Without Age, which has quickly spread to all corners of Denmark, as well as another 40 countries around the world.
At the moment Inverness is thought to be the nearest place affiliated to the movement.
Cycling Without Age states on its website: "Nothing beats witnessing the joy of the elderly... and seeing the smiles of passengers coming back from their first ride with wind in their hair, rosy cheeks and full of stories."