Creating social connection through cycling
Community Trike for York, established in 2018, is a chapter of the national Cycling Without Age Australia (CWAA) organisation providing free rides to the elderly, disabled, aged care residents and any other community members who are unable to leave their home unassisted.
Through the Lotterywest grant, the organisation was able to purchase an electric-assist trishaw to start offering rides to local residents around York.
Towards access to assist the elderly and people with disability to connect and enjoy the natural heritage and community life in York.
Community Trike for York
People with disability, Seniors (55 years and over)
Raised community connection and participation
More Western Australians are mentally healthy
Inclusive Thriving Community
Inclusion, Physical disadvantage
- Providing a regular service to two main aged care facilities in York.
- Being available for charitable and community-based events including the York Festival and National Disability Day.
- Finding a storage solution that is accessible for volunteers to access and secure.
- Finding new volunteers to assist in the operation of the trishaw for regular services.
- Limitations of being an unincorporated organisation, including finding competitive insurance premiums.
There has been growing concern around the impact of social isolation and loneliness in recent years. This phenomenon has become increasingly prevalent in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Social isolation has been shown to have a negative impact on health, including limiting the benefit of surgical intervention like cardiovascular surgery and impacting mental health with a higher risk of psychosocial and physical disorders . Research has shown that group or shared physical activity may improve the outlook of older adults by promoting social networking, as well as developing and strengthening relationships among participants .
Cycling Without Age began in Copenhagen in 2012, when founder Ole Kassow started renting a trishaw to take nursing home residents out for rides around the city. The movement has grown gradually from small beginnings and now has affiliates in 50 countries worldwide.
“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.”
Ole Kassow, Cycling Without Age founder 
Alongside donations from the local community, the grant helped to purchase an electric-assist trishaw to allow Community Trike for York to begin to offer free, leisurely journeys for the aged and those with disability, increasing interaction with community life.
Before they begin taking people for rides, the volunteer ‘pilots’ undergo an induction training program to make sure they are able to safely and competently operate the trike. The training involves:
- Risk assessments and pilot checklist.
- Pre-approved routes.
- Required Police Clearance.
- Required vaccinations in line with Aged Care & Disability support workers.
- Privacy policies.
- Scheduling procedures.
- Final practical assessment.
The trishaw meets Australian regulatory and safety requirements and is fitted with a retractable hood, waterproof blanket and seat belts for the two passengers.
Impacts and outcomes
By the end of 2021, 100 people had used the trishaw in York, supported by three volunteers.
“Nothing beats witnessing the joy of the elderly, pilots, staff and volunteers interacting on and around the trishaw and seeing the smiles of passengers coming back from their first ride with wind in their hair, full of smiles and stories.”
Cycling Without Age Australia 
Cycling Without Age Australia (CWAA) achieves outcomes aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, including reducing inequalities, promoting mental health and wellbeing and supporting inclusion. Change is achieved through applying the guiding principles of generosity, slowness, storytelling and relationships without age .
“To get the ride that we did, and see what we did today was worth waiting 83 years for! … I’d have done it earlier if I knew it was around! That trip was out of this world! It was really terrific. To be able to just sit there and go along. The water and the river on one side… what we saw today is hard to see in a motorcar. Because of my age I don’t walk too much … you don’t see these things when you sit in a car, and that was… that was unreal today. Unreal.”
John, Trishaw user
Providing a regular service to the community
Notwithstanding the interruptions to the program due to COVID-19 restrictions and other challenges, a regular weekly service has been provided to the two main aged care facilities in York as well as being available for various charitable and community-based events such as the York Festival and National Disability Day.
What didn’t work
Finding permanent and accessible storage options
Finding a suitable location to house the trishaw that is accessible to the community and secure has been challenging.
“The Trishaw has had four different storage / garage locations during the last two years, and we are still looking for a permanent garaging solution for the trishaw. We are currently exploring the option of a purpose built shed.”
Rob Pampling, Coordinator
It has also been challenging finding new volunteers who are able to assist in the operation of the trishaw. To overcome this, the organisation has used Facebook callouts for assistance to help keep the Trike on the community’s radar. Community Trike for York has merged with CWAA, which has a larger volunteer network and is trialling new ways of recruiting and retaining volunteers.
Limitations of being an unincorporated organisation
Community Trike for York was previously unincorporated and was acting as a chapter of CWAA using its guidelines for operations, policies and procedures. As a result, finding competitive insurance premiums for equipment replacement and public liability insurances was challenging.
- Püllüm, E., & Çevik Akyıl, R. (2017). Loneliness and Social Isolation among Eldely People. Meandros Medical and Dental Journal, 18(3), 158–163. https://doi.org/10.4274/meandros.32042
- Jiyoung Hwang, Lisa Wang, Jodi Siever, Talia Del Medico & Charlotte A. Jones (2019) Loneliness and social isolation among older adults in a community exercise program: a qualitative study, Aging & Mental Health, 23:6, 736-742, DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2018.1450835
- Cycling Without Age. (n.d.). Find Out All About Us. Cycling Without Age. https://cyclingwithoutage.org/about/
- Cycling Without Age Australia. (n.d.). Becoming A Cycling Without Age Affiliate. Cycling Without Age Australia. https://cyclingwithoutage.org.au/affiliate/
- Cycling Without Age Australia. (n.d.-b). Sustainable Development Goals. Cycling Without Age Australia. https://cyclingwithoutage.org/sustainable-development-goals/
Acknowledgement of Country
We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People as the original custodians of this country, recognising their connection to land, waters and community. We respect their cultures and Elders, past and present.
Ngala kaaditj Whadjuk moort keyen kaadak nidja boodja – We acknowledge Whadjuk Noongar people as the original custodians of the land on which we are based.