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The Alex Gage Blog

Alex is a volunteer ‘pilot’ for a revolutionary community cycling project

Alex Gage is a pilot for Cycling without Age Sheffield

The founder of Alex Gage Family Optometrist has joined a new scheme to make cycling accessible to all.

Alex Gage is one of a team of 15 volunteer cyclists (also known as pilots) with Cycling Without Age (CWA) Sheffield who take elderly care home residents out in a cycle trishaw named “Rhubarb” around Sheffield’s local parks and quiet roads.

Alex recently took his 88 year old father, David and brother, Steve out for a ride in Endcliffe park: “Rhubarb is a specially adapted tri-bike (three-wheeled, e-bike) which has space for two passengers at the front and is pedal-powered by one ‘pilot’.

“Each trip starts from the care home and will take two passengers out at a time, giving them the chance to notice the seasons, see what has changed locally and to share memories. As trained pilots, we are a committed to slow safe cycling and love chatting with our passengers.

“Dad lives with dementia and it was great to see his enjoyment as we had a leisurely ride and a stop for tea. Not only did it do Dad good, but the physical and emotional benefits to me were great too, and I loved the small part that I played in giving him a little bit of independence.”

Launched in Weston Park last year, CWA Sheffield is one of only three chapters in Yorkshire. Its Chair, Clare Rishbeth said: “We are looking to increase the number of passengers we take out in springtime, so new volunteers are very welcome!” Ms Rishbeth and the team are also hoping to apply for funding for additional trishaws so that they can work with more care homes across the city. For more information, please e mail clare.rishbeth@cyclingwithoutage.org.uk or visit the facebook page Cycling Without Age Sheffield or @CWA_Sheffield on twitter.

CWA was started by keen cyclist Ole Kassow in Copenhagen in 2012. He wanted to help the elderly 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 the local nursing home residents. The initiative went from strength to strength and is now represented in 2050 locations in 47 countries and over one million people have enjoyed rides provided by 31,500 trained cycle pilots.

England has a growing number of local chapters, many of which came about through the power of social media sharing. Each local chapter is run by volunteers with the guiding principles of generosity, slowness, storytelling, relationships and without age.

Take a look at this inspirational TED talk by CWA’s founder Ole Kassow for more information.