Parkes has become the latest member of the international movement Cycling Without Age, a program that promotes social inclusion for people facing increasing immobility.
Despite the crisp autumn day, residents of Parkes’ Southern Cross Care were lined up, eagerly awaiting their turn for a ride on a trishaw.
Unlike its distant cousin the rickshaw, the trishaw is a light three-wheeled motorised tricycle with a basket in the front designed to transport two passengers.
“Essentially the trishaw is an electrically assisted bike, so it’s fairly easy to ride,” explains Cycling Without Age representative Peter Guppy.
“They were first developed in Denmark and quickly spread around the world.”
Mr Guppy has been taking his trishaw to three retirement homes in Parkes and hopes to expand to Forbes in central-west NSW.
The rides have become so popular at Parkes’ Southern Cross Care, a local committee is fundraising to purchase its own community trishaw.
“A trishaw costs upwards of $20,000, excluding the yearly maintenance expenses, so we are hoping we can get the funds together before spring,” Mr Guppy said.
Potential benefits for many
Also originating in Denmark, Cycling Without Age connects people who are no longer able to ride themselves with volunteer community cyclists.
A spokesperson from Beyond Blue told the ABC that between 10-15 per cent of the elderly generation experience some form of depression after losing their mobility.
But Parkes organisers believe the potential for benefits extends beyond aged care residents.
“The initiative gets people who are struggling with their mental health back onto the bikes,” Mr Guppy said.
Australia currently has over 60 Cycling Without Age affiliates in approximately 35 chapter locations, with Parkes taking that number to 36.
Pedal power, changing lives
Southern Cross Care Village has indicated it would benefit from the trishaw program becoming a permanent fixture.
Facility manager Kate Thomas said it was already having an impact on the residents.
“Our residents have become so proactive in getting out and enjoying the outdoors again,” Ms Thomas said.
Keith Fiedler, who’s been a resident at Southern Cross since March, said it had been great to be in the outdoors.
“It’s a wonderful idea [the trishaw program],” Mr Fiedler said.
“I would like to see more people get behind it. I think we would definitely need more than one”
Fellow resident Betty Nash agrees, having always enjoyed cycling in her youth.
“I think it would be excellent!” Ms Nash said.