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by Christine Bell, Cycling Without Age Scotland
06 October 2023
Associate Feature: Partnership Empowering Progress

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Associate Feature: Partnership Empowering Progress

I want to start with my sincere thanks to you, the Scottish Government, for your unwavering cross-party backing of Cycling Without Age Scotland (CWAS) right from its start, five years ago. You foresightedly recognised that our pioneering offer is unique and that it would enrich Scottish society in so many ways. And it has: from promoting green transport to making a substantial contribution to accessible tourism. I hope that you are proud of what we have achieved between us, which has never been more important than it is now, in our post-Covid recovery.

Through the financial support of Active Scotland and Transport Scotland, we are the only one of almost sixty country representatives of the global project Cycling Without Age (CWA) to receive central government funding. That has been fundamental to us achieving exponential growth, unmatched anywhere in the world, and to meeting the Government’s expectation of us that any activity under our banner would be carried out to the highest possible standards, especially safety. As a result, we are the role model for CWA’s international branches in our operations, systems and procedures, all of which are envied around the world.

On a scale we could never have envisaged, we have enriched the lives of people of all ages in Scotland, but predominantly the elderly, who have mobility issues and/or are facing the challenges of isolation and loneliness. To date our 135 e-bike Trishaws have provided 49,974 rides, completely free of charge, to 59,426 passengers, covering 56,867 green miles. 

We play a significant role in helping to address Scotland’s mental health and wellbeing. We encourage people to exercise and more than 60% of our volunteer riders (aka “Pilots”) are women, and we enrich passengers’ social interactions, stimulating them through being and feeling a genuine and important part of their communities. Equally important is what we do for our 1,400+ volunteer Pilots too. 

Our volunteers also experienced the isolation that Covid brought, and the social interaction they now get from this activity, the fulfilment of making a real difference to people’s lives and, of course, the physical exercise are helping substantially in putting those pandemic days behind them.

We bring even more benefits for the country, especially increasing accessibility to iconic visitor-attracting sites and, therefore, helping to build those economies. Our “Trishaws in Iconic Places” programme provides rides to disabled people in substantial numbers who, previously, simply would not have been able to access and enjoy places like Helix Park, Dundee’s spectacular Waterfront or the Antonine Wall. And we have many more iconic places in our sights, not least Holyrood Park itself!

Your funding has enabled us to put in place an infrastructure which provides everything that community groups desperately need, the absence of which is so often their downfall. We help them fundraise and to actually get a Trishaw, which we import for them. We provide all training, procedures, insurance, specialist technical maintenance, publicity and marketing expertise and materials and a network of contacts, so that whatever their query, we can provide the answer. And we bring them together: for example our recent Grand Gathering saw representatives from Chapters all round Scotland meet and get to know, learn from and inspire each other – and complete a world-record breaking ride of 30 Trishaws: never before, anywhere in the world, have so many Trishaws ridden together. And this was only 30 of the 135 Trishaws we currently have operating in Scotland!  The number is growing all the time.

So I’ll finish where I started: thank YOU for making this happen. Cycling Without Age Scotland enables community groups to provide passengers and volunteers, in their thousands, with this amazing experience in the most hassle-free way possible, and you enable us to do that. By this time next year we will be offering this free service in even more parts of the country and enriching even more thousands of lives.

This article is sponsored by Cycling Without Age Scotland

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