Partnership Brings Cycling Without Age Affiliate to Fergus Falls
Together, the partnership is raising funds to purchase a trishaw, a three wheeled cycle with room for a driver and comfortable seating for two passengers. Volunteer drivers – often referred to as pilots – of the trishaw will give rides for residents of PioneerCare Center, Pioneer Cottages, and Pioneer Pointe, and others in the community.
Pedal Fergus Falls and PioneerCare have formed a local affiliate of Cycling Without Age, a global organization that aims to increase access to the cycling experience for older adults and others with varying abilities that prevent them from cycling on their own.
Cycling Without Age: European Origins
“Everyone has the right to wind in their hair,” says Ole Kassow, who founded Cycling Without Age in 2012.
Kassow, a resident of Copenhagen, began the movement with one ride. While cycling, he noticed an older man sitting on a bench enjoying the sun. Kassow discovered the 97-year-old man was accustomed to cycling every day, but no longer could ride on his own. Kassow decided to visit the man’s nursing home with a rented rickshaw, and Cycling Without Age was born.
Jake Krohn and David Sanderson, both lifelong cyclists and Pedal Fergus Falls members, approached Steve Guttormson, the director of the PioneerCare Foundation, with the idea of launching a similar program here. Last year Krohn had traveled to the Netherlands, where he experienced piloting a trishaw, visited with a Cycling Without Age affiliate there, and could see its potential for Fergus Falls. The city has grown to have an active cycling culture and pro-cycling community advocates. Fergus Falls has been designated a bronze Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists and is applying for silver status.
Krohn noted the challenge older adults sometimes face as they tend to become more isolated from the greater community. “This can lead to feelings of loneliness, alienation, and depression,” he says. “Cycling provides a unique perspective and connection to the outside world and can lead to an improved quality of life for the passengers and pilots alike.”
Connecting Generations with Common Interests
Other Cycling Without Age affiliates have seen intergenerational bonds created between volunteers and older adults, allowing time to build trust and share stories. To encourage that bond, pilots are instructed to “go slow.”
“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,” according to the organization’s web site.
Members of Pedal Fergus Falls, the local bicycle advocacy group, will serve as a source of volunteers, along with PioneerCare staff and other interested community members. Pedal Fergus Falls will work with PioneerCare activities staff to schedule and match volunteers with passengers for recreational cycle trips.
Krohn envisions half-hour to full-hour trips on preset routes, such as around Lake Alice, through downtown, or along the Central Lakes Trail. Rides also may be customized for the passenger to visit familiar neighborhoods, a childhood home, or former workplace.
The Cycling Without Age affiliate in Fergus Falls will create lasting structure and support for the program. Krohn, Sanderson, and Guttormson hope to grow the effort to add more trishaws and include other care providers, living settings, and other organizations that serve older adults and others who would benefit from the program.
PioneerCare Foundation immediately embraced the concept and is supporting the fundraising effort to purchase the trishaw and launch the program. With $15,000 raised, the partnership will be able to purchase a trishaw with electric assist, along with related supplies and equipment.
Organizers hope to wrap up the fundraising effort this spring in time to accept delivery and begin offering rides early this summer. Community members interested in volunteering may connect online at www.pedalff.org. Those wishing to donate toward the cause may do so online or contact Steve Guttormson at 218-998-1501.
Update as of November 2019: Thanks to generous donations from the community and grant support, funds have been raised to provide two trishaws for the Cycling Without Age program in Fergus Falls. One is here and a second one is expected in early 2020. Organizers now seek to recruit volunteers to serve as drivers. Those interested may send an email to Emily, call her at 218.998.1506, or connect online through wwwpedalff.org.
About Pedal Fergus Falls:
Pedal Fergus Falls, a chapter of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, is a bicycle and pedestrian education and advocacy group for Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Its members are dedicated to making biking and walking safe, easy, and fun. Pedal Fergus Falls is a resource to individuals, organizations and businesses who want to incorporate biking and walking into their daily lives.
Founded as a non-profit organization in 1928, PioneerCare provides a spectrum of services to promote health and well-being for older adults and others managing chronic conditions. PioneerCare offers short term rehabilitative therapy, long term skilled nursing care, specialized memory care, and technology-based services to support independence within its living settings and in the greater community. Any given day, with a staff of close to 300, PioneerCare supports the needs of over 800 people within its living settings and in the community.