Specialized 'trishaw' lets Saskatoon care home residents experience cycling again

Specialized 'trishaw' lets Saskatoon care home residents experience cycling again

A new kind of cycle hitting the streets of Saskatoon is allowing residents of a care home a chance to sit back and enjoy a ride.

LutherCare Communities has two trishaw bikes to take its residents out for rides. It's part of a worldwide program called Cycling Without Age.

"It's really marvellous," said Elsie Livingston, one of the residents. "Places where I used to walk along the Meewasin Trail, for example, I've been able to ride on."

The trishaws were handmade in Denmark. A wide seat sits on two wheels on the front, providing seating to two people. A third wheel in the back is attached to a powered cycle where a trained volunteer or staff member steers.

"It's been a fantastic program accepted by all of our residents and really does provide a little extra, particularly during the spring and summer months, where our residents can get outside and actually go for a bike ride in the neighborhood, " said Vivienne Hauck, LutherCare Communities CEO.

Hauck said the idea came from a resident who saw videos of trishaws on the internet and thought it would be a wonderful thing to have.  

"We did a little more exploring and through our foundation, we were able to purchase two bicycles. And there are another two bicycles on order as well."

The trishaws arrived in June 2018, but Livingston said so many residents wanted rides that she didn't get a chance to go out on one until this summer.  

She said riding in the seat of the trishaw feels like riding in any other vehicle.

"We hit even more of the potholes, it seems," she said with a chuckle.

Livingston said having a chance to get out for a ride helps her stay positive. Hauck said many residents report similar experiences.

"They come back almost exhilarated after riding around in the fresh air," Hauck said.

"It's just a great experience that perhaps they had when they were a little younger and we're able to enable them to experience that again. So it just brings back lots of good memories to them as well."

Courtney Markewich/CBC

The Saskatoon trishaws are the first in the province, though the Cycling Without Age website indicates fundraising is underway to bring them to Regina, Prince Albert and Yorkton.

The trishaws cost $12,000 each. One was purchased through funding from the Kinsmen Foundation, with the others purchased by the LutherCare Foundation.