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Outdoor experiences for seniors just got an electric upgrade

‘Really special gift’: Sault’s Cycling Without Age chapter has started taking residents with limited mobility for free rides on an electric pedal-assisted bike from Denmark

Monique Baker doesn’t know how much time she has left with her 93-year-old mother Franca, but she does know that Tuesday was a very special day.

Baker joined her mom Franca at the F.J. Davey Home yesterday afternoon and took the long-awaited first ride on Sault Ste. Marie’s brand-new electric powered trishaw bike.

The bike is part of the Cycling Without Age initiative, an international movement that allows older citizens to explore their area from the passenger seat of a trishaw bike for free.

Workers with Superior Staff it Inc. launched the local cycling chapter last year and had been raising funds to purchase the bike, which came with a hefty $20,000 price tag.

Designed in Denmark, the three-wheeled electrical pedal-assisted bike carries two passengers in the front while being controlled by a driver, or “pilot,” in the back.

“It’s special having my mom being the first one to take the ride,” Baker told SooToday. “With her advanced Alzheimer’s, we seize every little moment we can and celebrate the good times, and this is a good time.”

Baker first heard about Cycling Without Age last November when Superior Staff it Inc. was looking for members to volunteer on the committee.

She’s now the volunteer coordinator for the local chapter.

“I’m a huge advocate for fresh air and seniors,” Baker said. “Their mobility may not be that good, but this is a great way to get them outside and enjoy themselves. It’s a real pleasure to help them be able to do that and give back to the community.”

Kristy Delavalle, the community chair for Cycling Without Age, said the success of a golf tournament fundraiser last year, paired with a generous donation from an anonymous sponsor, helped them secure the special bike from overseas.

She had the chance to pilot a number of short rides, including the first one for Baker and her mom, on the hub trail around the hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

“I have chills,” Delavalle said. “This has been such a long time coming, and I’m really honoured to be part of this initiative. To be able to provide this first ride is such a full circle moment for me, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this.”

“We’re also hoping to secure a second bike,” she added. “We’re about halfway to our goal.”

Familiar local spots like the boardwalk and hub trail are slated to be among the scenic destinations included in the program, which is set to fully open in the coming weeks.

Rides will be offered to members of the public between Tuesday and Saturday at the F.J. Davey Home, and Mondays at the Bay Street Active Living Centre.

Over the next two weeks, Cycling Without Age will also be providing training for its pilots.

Following the training, there will be up to 81 time slots available each week to be filled by residents interested in riding or driving the bikes.

Registration to volunteer as a pilot or sign up a loved one as a passenger is available on the chapter’s website by clicking here.

“Every day is a gift, and today was a really special gift,” Baker said. “I can see this growing for sure.”

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Alex Flood

About the Author: Alex Flood

Alex is a recent graduate from the College of Sports Media where he discovered his passion for reporting and broadcasting
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