Steph’s Day Out – Cycling Without Age

by Stephanie Staples | photo by Janis Jean Photography – 

You’ve more than likely seen them on the streets of Sidney, North Saanich or perhaps bedazzled in the Sidney Sparkles parade. Curious looking, three-wheeled, electronic assist bikes aka trishaws, with an energetic pilot pedalling in the back and a couple of happy-looking people sitting comfortably on the bench seat in front. Perhaps they’ve even given you a royal wave!

Well, that’s what my friend Wendy and I were doing too as we passed by the pedestrians, experiencing Sidney like we never had before!

Welcome to Cycling Without Age Society (CWAS), an affiliate of the global initiative brought to our community in 2017 by local Stephen Duck, an avid cyclist who found a cause he didn’t know he was looking for.

Inspired by their mission “to build bridges between generations and help prevent loneliness,” CWAS allows seniors and differently-abled people an opportunity to avoid social isolation and remain active in the community. Seven days a week, two to three times a day, all year round, one of the 18 well-trained CWAS volunteers pilot the trishaws taking Peninsula residents out on hour-long rides that allow them to get some much-appreciated vitamin D and to feel the wind in their hair.

For one grateful 90 year old, it was the first time she had ever been on a bike; for others it allowed two friends in different retirement homes to reconnect. CWAS volunteers have taken out grandparents with their grandchild, parents with a differently-abled child and yes, while it is predominantly for those folks, CWA welcomes everyone to try out their complimentary service (especially when there is more availability in the winter months).

While the outdoors element is obviously important to CWAS, so is its social component. The design of the trishaw has the pilot and riders in close proximity so it’s easy to have great conversations. In fact, Steve and our pilot, Bob, both said the conversations, the learnings and the connecting with the riders are the “best part of the job.”

Bringing (and keeping) CWAS in the community is no small undertaking. Currently this charity has two trishaws, each running at a cost of $15,000 (including freight). Russ Hay’s The Bicycle Shop Sidney provides local maintenance as an in-kind sponsor and Sidney All Care Residence provides the local storage facility in-kind. The CWAS board is responsible for promotion, fundraising and the like.Their wish list includes four more trishaws and a trailer, so they can better serve other areas of the Peninsula. If you love the mission and love people, there are many ways you can support CWAS:
• If you love biking and have a good awareness of road safety, consider becoming a volunteer pilot – this includes a one-day training course and six hours of on the bike experience.
• Bring your unique talents to serve as a board member.
• Got more money than time? You can be a financial donor; yep, you will get a tax receipt.
• Like to chat? They are always looking for companion riders – someone to ride with so no one rides alone (unless they want to). No training needed for this role, but a gift for the gab is useful!

Interestingly, the bikes are considered medical devices so they can go anywhere that they fit! Safety is of the utmost importance and before our ride, we signed our waivers, were provided helmets and given careful instruction on how to load up on the trishshaw. It was a cool day, but before Bob tucked us all in nice and cozy with a blanket, he made sure we didn’t need the bathroom (because once you are buckled in you are in for the duration, no popping out willy-nilly). Bob took Wendy and I for a delightful ride around Sidney; he pointed out an eagle and some lesser-known sites, engaged us in a wonderful conversation and took us right to the end of the Sidney Pier with the crabbers! He says he will often stop at a café for his riders to enjoy a treat en route. We must have been misbehaving because we didn’t get an edible treat, but that’s okay because the ride was a treat in itself!

Both Wendy and I agreed it was such a fun experience and we were happy to see that they have an optional donation box on the trishaw, should you wish to contribute to the cause.

To find out more about the Cycling Without Age Society, visit or at the very least, give them a wave when you see them go by!

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