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Cycling Without Age: Park ride group call for volunteer pilots

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Pilot Jan taking out two passengers from the Norfolk Park Wellbeing Centre. Photo by Faith Salih.

A new project is looking for volunteer cyclists to take care home residents on trips out to nearby parks.

Since launching in spring last year, the Sheffield branch of Cycling Without Age have taken their Danish tri-bike to three homes each week.

"We help older, less mobile people who might have thought their cycling days were long gone feel the wind in their hair with the help of Rhubarb, our three wheeled tri-bike," branch founder Clare Rishbeth told Now Then.

A couple of us were trying to think of ways to make parks and local nature more accessible for people who can't get out much

"Like the many other Cycling Without Age groups worldwide, the 'pilots' are all volunteers who enjoy chatting with our passengers."

Rishbeth decided to launch a Sheffield branch after seeing videos of pilots and passengers around the world on Twitter.

"A couple of us were trying to think of ways to make parks and local nature more accessible for people who can't get out much," she said.

"We found a few other like-minded people, put a bit of welly into fundraising, and in spring last year got our tri-bike."

Now the group are looking for new pilots so that they can offer the experience to more passengers.

"Rhubarb is a e-bike so you don't need to be super fit, just someone who enjoys cycling and chatting," said Rishbeth. "The timings are relatively flexible and we expect a commitment of a ride out every two to three weeks on average."

Urban farmer Ole Kassow launched Cycling Without Age in Copenhagen in 2012. Seven years later over 29,000 pilots now volunteer at 1,600 branches, located in 41 countries.

According to Rishbeth, the rides attract many repeat passengers who enjoy the view from the bike's comfy front seat, quoting one passenger who said that she "felt like the Queen."

"They like being out in the fresh air, having a nosy at what's going on, chatting with our volunteers as well as other people in the parks," she said.

"Our volunteers are a cheerful outdoorsy bunch, who enjoy the combo of being a cycling tour guide and befriending, especially getting to know our regulars and the chance to do some good stuff for others."

Sam Gregory

To book onto a training session as a pilot, contact CWA through Twitter or Facebook or email Clare: clare.rishbeth@cyclingwithoutage.org.uk

You can also attend a drop-in taster session on 11 January (11am in Weston Park - meet on the path in front of the museum).

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Pilot Oliver taking out residents from Grange Crescent by the millpond in Endcliffe Park. Photo by Jake Ramsden.

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