Story Elaine Ambrose Photos Jim Peterson
If you see a bicycle that resembles a rickshaw on the streets of Eagle, wave at the happy passengers. Local senior citizens are being chauffeured around town by volunteer “pilots” who also listen to their stories. In our hectic, impersonal world, sometimes such simple gestures create the perfect solution to bring immense joy to several generations.
Last summer, local writer Elaine Ambrose noticed a video on social media that showed a young man pedaling older people outside. She investigated the organization, Cycling Without Age, and discovered the volunteers also captured stories from their passengers. She immediately applied to start an affiliate chapter in Idaho in memory of her late mother and because she is a storyteller. Her application was accepted and she ordered the custom bike taxi from Denmark.
The bike arrived in October, and Elaine enlisted the help of her friend, Mary McFarland, a former city councilwoman for Eagle. Mary set up a meeting with Eagle mayor Stan Ridgeway, Eagle Parks and Recreation coordinator Steve Noyes, and Eagle police officer Mike Kinzel, along with other dignitaries, to gain approval to ride the motorized vehicle on the streets, in the parks, and on the local Greenbelt. They gained tentative approval, and Elaine planned a party to introduce the bike. She obtained the necessary insurance, printed waiver forms, and contacted local assisted living facilities. The first volunteer pilots were trained how to use the “trishaw” and how to prompt stories from their passenger. The stories could be published in a book by Elaine’s publishing company, Mill Park Publishing.
The Premiere Party for the new bike taxi was October 16 at the covered patio next to Olive and Vyne at North Channel Center, 600 South Rivershore Lane in Eagle. Guests became “Charter Cheerleaders” for the program, enjoyed rides, and met the pilots. Olive and Vyne and Proletariat Wine were co-sponsors of the event. Food was catered by Lori Renn.
Cycling Without Age is a worldwide movement to give seniors and the disabled the opportunity to feel the wind in their hair, connect with the community, and share their stories. Custom-made trishaws are equipped with safe, comfortable seating for two in a covered carriage attached to the front of a motorized bike pedaled by a volunteer pilot. The pilots are trained to initiate conversations with the older passengers and record their stories.
For more information or to become a volunteer pilot, contact Ambrose at [email protected]