Ageless Biking: Program Helps Seniors Enjoy Rickshaw Rides | New
In late fall 2019, Pedal Fergus Falls and PioneerCare received their first pedicab, an electrically assisted three-wheeled bicycle with a semi-closed bench for two up front. Organizations have joined forces to raise funds for the craft, which allows a pilot pilot to take one or two people on a bicycle.
Riding on the pedicab bench is like riding a bicycle. Cyclists feel bumps in the road and wind through their hair, providing a cycling experience without the work of pedaling or riding the bike.
“They love it,” Khila Bahn said. “It’s so good for them to go out for a walk.”
Bahn, who works for PioneerCare, has the most experience driving rickshaws in the Fergus Falls area. She began piloting and taking PioneerCare residents on community walks in 2020 during the pandemic, after the facilities closed to visitors. There were weeks where she spent eight hours a day, three days a week, piloting residents around town with the goal of getting them out and having fun.
Cycling Without Age is an international program that started in Denmark. Jake Krohn of Fergus Falls found out about the program through social media groups dedicated to cycling in 2017. He traveled to the Netherlands in 2018 to learn more about the program and the pedicabs, fueling his desire to bring the program to the region. Krohn is now the leader of Cycling Without Age in the United States and is working diligently to bring the program to facilities across the country.
A trishaw bike costs around $ 12,000 to $ 13,000 after shipping costs and getting extra batteries. Trishaws are made in Denmark or the Netherlands and have various options including bench style seats as well as an option to attach a wheelchair to the pedicab. PioneerCare currently has two bench style pedicabs and LB Homes is in the process of securing a wheelchair accessible pedicab, which they purchased with funds raised on Giving Hearts Day. Grant opportunities are also available to help facilities purchase.
Krohn piloted the pedicab, introducing two residents to the new experience. One of those residents was Dorothy Porter. Porter got involved in cycling after her son took a bicycle trip to high school. Throughout her life, she made three long trips by bicycle with various members of her family. These trips took her to Europe for several months and to Canada. She shared tales of her adventures as Krohn took her for a tour of Grotto Park where she showed egrets and cormorants nesting and shared family stories. Unable to ride a bike for several years, Porter said, “It’s just wonderful!” Krohn has made plans to take him to the Central Lakes Trail in the near future.
PioneerCare and Pedal Fergus Falls continue to work together to make the program fully operational this spring and summer. They are currently building and training a volunteer base with the hope that volunteers can be used at local facilities.
“We want to see this as an opportunity for other facilities to get involved as well,” Krohn said. “The more involvement we can get, the better.”
Steve Guttormson of PioneerCare explained that volunteers would be required to pass a background check and then need training on the pedicab – specifically how to ride and operate the bike and how to load and unload passengers. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Jake Krohn at [email protected] or Steve Guttormson at [email protected]