Seniors around the world are biking through cycling program
From Santa Barbara to Scotland, strangers are becoming friends by going on bike rides together. They get paired up by Cycling Without Age, an organization that helps seniors go for bike rides, even if they can’t pedal themselves.
Hugh Lyon and David Lawrence have been riding together for years. They have both lived in Falkirk, Scotland their whole lives, but didn’t meet until they got involved in Cycling Without Age. “Despite the fact that we’re 20 years apart in age, roughly, we both went to the same secondary school,” said Lyon, 74.
The 56-year-old Lawrence serves as a “pilot,” driving the trishaw – a bike with a passenger seat in the front that Cycling Without Age uses for their rides. They go for rides about once a week, often discussing the history of their town.
“It gives me a connection with people from an older generation,” said Lawrence. “Unfortunately, I’ve lost both my parents, they’re no longer with us. And for me, it gives that connection with older people and I enjoy spending time with them and hearing their stories.”
The pair have formed a friendship outside of cycling. Lawrence said he calls Lyon often and goes to the gym with him to help him with exercises he can’t do on his own.
Ole Kassow, who founded Cycling Without Age, said that’s the power of the program. “The truly powerful thing about these bike rides is that they tie people and stories together to create new relationships,” he told CBS News. “In my experience, friendships – and the ability to form new relationships at any age – are what define a good life, and often also a long and happy life.”
Kassow started Cycling Without Age in Copenhagen in 2012, but there are now 2,700 chapters in 52 countries.
John Seigel Boettner started the Santa Barbara chapter. He has one rule for passengers. “They say, ‘What does it cost, if I’m going to go for a ride, what’s it going to cost?’ I say, ‘Here’s what it costs: It costs, you have to wave. If you don’t wave, I’m going to kick you out,'” he joked.
He said he likes when they hit red lights, because it gives him and his passengers a chance to connect with each other and people on the road. He said driving the trishaw is the best advertisement for Cycling Without Age, because when people see it, they want to stop and find out more about the program.
For seniors like Lyon, who used to cycle with his friends all over the world, it’s a chance to feel the wind in your face again. And cycling together can be just as meaningful for the pilots.
Boettner said: “When you take a 101-year-old woman for a bike ride and she holds your hand tight and says thank you and gives you a kiss on the cheek, it doesn’t get any better than that.”