by Megan Schmidt
Diane Silcott never learned how to ride a bike.
Silcott grew up on 16th street in Denver — a bustling corridor long before it was designated a pedestrian mall in the 1980s. Her parents worried that she’d get hurt. As the years passed, Silcott never got around to learning.
Silcott, 78, now lives at the Residences at Creekside in Lakewood, a Metro West Housing Solutions (MWHS) senior community. She recently experienced what it’s like to explore her neighborhood by bike on a summer morning — sun shining, flowers in bloom and the wind in her hair.
“I loved going out into the fresh air and seeing new areas in the community,” she said. “You can go places with the trishaw that a car can’t.”
The trishaw Silcott is referring to is a three-wheeled, pedal-powered bicycle with electric assistance that allows two passengers to sit in front while a volunteer cyclist — called a pilot — pedals behind them.
What makes the trishaw unique is that it gives passengers a similar experience to riding a bike — facing forward with an unobstructed view.
The right to feel the wind in one’s hair is the philosophy of Cycling Without Age, a movement to get seniors back on bikes and out in the community again, regardless of their physical abilities. It began six years ago in Copenhagen — arguably the cycling capital of the world. Since then, it has spread to 40 countries worldwide. Now, it’s in Lakewood.
Gary Harty, founder of the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team, learned about the program while watching a TEDx Talk by Ole Kassow, the Cycling Without Age founder. What particularly moved Harty was hearing about the experience of Sigrid, 90, who joined an ambitious trek from Copenhagen to Germany with 10 trishaws and 20 senior passengers. During the trip, Sigrid stood up during dinner and told her travel companions that she hadn’t been on a vacation in 15 years and that it was the best trip of her life.