Cycling scheme for older people tested in Falkirk to be rolled out across the country

A pilot cycling scheme enabling older people in Falkirk to stay active and socialise is to be rolled out nationally.

Public health minister Aileen Campbell takes Mary Duncan, 90, and Jim Taylor, 96, for a spin at the Kelpies in Falkirk. Picture by Stewart Attwood

The Scottish Government has announced it is providing £300,000 to set up the Cycling Without Age (CWA) project across the country following a successful pilot in the Falkirk area.

Originating in Denmark, CWA encourages volunteers to take older people for bike rides, using specially designed ‘trishaws’ and it aims to help socially isolated older people meet others and be physically active.

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The project was brought to Scotland in 2016 by the Communities Along the Carron Association (CATCA) and the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Fund awarded CATCA £10,000 to explore the potential impact the project could have in Scotland.

In the first phase of the roll-out during 2018/19, CWA will be implemented in five more local authority areas, and partnerships for further projects agreed in eight others.

The funding news was announced by public health and sport minister Aileen Campbell during a visit to CWA at the Kelpies today (Tuesday).

She said: “Cycling Without Age started with the simple aim of helping older people feel the wind in their hair again. Through the committed action of a few volunteers, the project was brought to Scotland and has made a positive difference to many people’s lives.

“Through this funding, Cycling Without Scotland will work with communities and partners to roll the project out across Scotland in the areas and settings where it will have the most impact. We know that physical activity and regular social interaction have huge benefits for both mental and physical well-being and help people in Scotland live longer, healthier lives.”

Christine Bell, CWA Scotland executive officer, said: “We are delighted the Scottish Government is supporting the need in communities across Scotland for this simple yet powerful initiative.

“In a society with a growing number of elderly people living in care or alone at home, this project addresses many social and wellbeing concerns.

“The act of two passengers sharing a trishaw, along with the volunteer pilots, creates new relationships and friendships, which has proven to be one of the most valuable aspects of this project, elderly people are brought back into community life, stories are shared and health, and wellbeing improves for everyone involved.”