Young and old will benefit from Perth High cycle plans

© Angus Findlay.
Matthew Mackie, Amelia Franchi and Lisa Sorbie with examples of the bikes.

A Perth school is celebrating after winning £7,500 of funding for an innovative project which allows the elderly to escape the confines of their homes and take to the open road.

Cycling Without Age was established in Copenhagen in 2012 with a simple idea.

Volunteers offer free bike rides to local elderly residents on specially adapted trishaws – cycle-pulled rickshaws – so that people who might otherwise be housebound and lonely can feel the wind in their hair and be part of their community again.

This simple act of kindness has proved to be so powerful that Cycling Without Age has become a global movement, operating in 33 countries across the world.

And now a team from Perth High is determined to make sure their city is part of that movement.

Matthew Mackie, principal teacher of computing, Lisa Sorbie, depute headteacher and Amelia Franchi, an S3 pupil, successfully pitched for funding from Angel’s Share,  a Perth and Kinross Council initiative set up to fund community projects.

They will work with Christine Bell and team at Cycling Without Age Scotland on getting the Perth scheme up and running.

First steps will include identifying and making contact with the most suitable elderly passengers in care homes, sheltered housing, and the community. Project members will also have to tackle challenges such as route planning, risk assessment, licencing, insurance and bike maintenance.

Mr Mackie said the Perth group couldn’t wait to get started.

“We will begin pilot and volunteer recruitment and training ahead of our anticipated launch, after the arrival of our first bike in spring 2018,” he said.

“We say ‘first’ bike, because while we intend making this a really successful and sustainable project for the Perth High School community, we are ambitious that this can be a catalyst for similar models in communities right across Perth and Kinross.

“Once we’re up and running, we will appeal to local communities to get behind the project, either as volunteer pilots, co-passengers or with future fundraising.

“As soon as we heard about Cycling Without Age, we knew it was something that we had to bring to Perth and with financial support of the ‘Angels’, we are now going to make that happen.”