- Associated Press - Monday, October 2, 2017

WILLIAMSTON, Mich. (AP) - It’s been two decades since Jeanne Brown hopped on a bike. The retired Michigan State University child development professor said she has loved bikes since she was a kid.

Now, she’s rolling again and declaring it fun. The return to her childhood joy is courtesy of her retirement home in Williamston, which purchased an expensive, giant tricycle from Denmark called a trishaw.

It’s like a pedicab or rickshaw but instead of sitting behind the rider, or pilot, passengers sit up front to experience an unobstructed view and the unobstructed air. The trike is part of a European trend called Cycling Without Age.

“It allows folks to be back on a bike and experience the wind in their hair,” said Todd Walter, the owner of Crosaires, a home for six older adults in Williamston. Crosaires is Gaelic for crossroads, he told the Lansing State Journal .

Walter said an intern working at his home was looking for ways to engage seniors last winter and he found an online site about returning the rewards of cycling to those with limited mobility.

Cycling Without Age was started in 2012 by Ole Kassow in Copenhagen, Denmark. Kassow started offering free bike rides on the trishaws to nursing home residents. It’s a movement based on kindness, slow rides and storytelling.

Kassow said, via Twitter, that it’s the first trishaw with his movement in Michigan. His website lists 50 Cycling Without Age chapters in the U.S. but none in Michigan.

Walter has become one of 10,000 trained “pilots” across the globe.

It’s not surprising that the trend comes from Copenhagen, known for being extremely bike friendly.

The trioBike, the brand name for the trishaw, was an eye-popping $8,000. Walter raised donations to buy the bike from a Copenhagen, Denmark dealer that he found through the Cycling Without Age website. It was delayed for six weeks when the freight company experienced a cyber-attack. It arrived about a month ago, just in time for residents to enjoy the remains of summer.

Walter said it’s helping older adults connect to other area residents, such as a neighbor who grows giant pumpkins and regularly welcomes the trishaw riders to his farm.

“It is a life enhancer, there is no doubt,” Walter said.

Friends Ziona Bisno, 94, and Matilda Post, 103, got on for a spin on a recent Friday. The air had a nip of fall and the women were cold.

After a few minutes down the driveway and a ride along Zimmer Road, Bisno, who lives at the home, pronounces the ride “rocky” but she has a big smile on her face as she exits the bike. Her friend Post, who was visiting, tried the ride but wasn’t enthusiastic about it.

Walter is convinced they’ll ask to ride again on another day.

Brown, the MSU retiree, is a lot more upbeat. She recalls her days teaching in China.

“I’ve ridden the rickshaw in China. They were scary,” Brown recalled. “They never hit anything but you think you’re going to die any second.”

The trishaw is much slower, no more than 10 miles per hour and Brown contrasts the ride favorably to the long-ago rickshaw.

“It was much more serene,” she said.


Information from: Lansing State Journal, https://www.lansingstatejournal.com

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