I adore travelling on public transport with my bike, and chatting with fellow travellers – almost every trip sends me home with a head full of stories. On Thursday night, returning home from Bike Auckland’s committee meeting, I parked my bike amongst the others on the ferry’s stern deck and looked around for someone to chat to.
I was immediately attracted to a man wearing a high-vis rain jacket with a cute little badge… I simply had to know more! What sort of pilot was he?
Glen Stanton, the owner of the badge, explained he was the volunteer pilot of an electric tricycle-rickshaw owned by the Aria Retirement Home in Brown’s Bay. Twice a week, he takes residents from the home out for a ride to soak up the sun, sights, and busy-ness of Browns Bay’s streets and beach.
Only a week before I’d heard Jesse Mulligan’s feature about the Cycling Without Age movement that’s taking off across New Zealand. As Jane reported for us earlier this year, the movement started in Denmark 5 years ago, and now there are over 1,000 trishaws operating in 30 countries around the world.
In New Zealand, retirement village operator Arvida is leading the charge, and there are plans to expand Cycling Without Age to community centres and marae across the country.
It’s one thing to be inspired by stories about a programme using bikes to enrich people’s lives. It’s another thing to meet someone who’s helping make it happen, and feel the excitement. Here’s Glen’s story in his own words:
I own an Electric Bike which I bought as a present to myself when I retired 3 years ago. I use it to ride to Mairangi Village from my house most days for coffee, supermarket, tennis etc.
For the last 3 months I’ve been piloting an electric “trishaw” as a volunteer for the Aria Village Retirement home in Browns Bay. Each Tuesday and Thursday I take 2 of the elderly residents for a ride to Browns Bay beach. I usually park up for 10 mins or so and let them enjoy the sea air & sunshine, and then I cycle along the foreshore to the southern end of the beach and back to Aria.
Glen told me how honoured he feels to be able to pilot the trishaw, as his passengers are well into their 80s and some in their 90s:
They become so lively during the ride, chatting excitedly to each other, waving out to passersby and laughing with delight. It’s fun to see the traffic slow down and create a clearway for me and my precious load.
During the last few days, one of the staff there, a guy named Jon, has surveyed some of the women who have participated and it seems that they absolutely love it. For some, it is literally the only time they leave the retirement home.
My understanding is that Arvida Group who own Aria Village imported 5 of these Trishaws from Denmark, which are located at various villages throughout NZ.
We take our hats off to the Arvida Villages. They totally get the right of their residents to health and happiness, calling their trishaw trips ‘the right to wind in your hair.’
Glen said his only regret is that his twice-weekly visits to provide trishaw rides leave a queue of people keen to hop on board. Maisie and Molly get to feel the wind in their hair, the sun on their face and the chance to give delight to other road users… but they, and others, have to wait a while for their next outing. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if they could whistle up a ride any day of the week?
If you can ride an electric bike and would love to help people re-experience their childhood biking expeditions, please get in touch with us and we’ll pass your name on Arvida.
You’ll be amply rewarded with spreading the joy of life on wheels!