In 2013, the Danish entrepreneur Ole Kassow started a project called Cycling Without Age where volunteers take elderly people on bike rides. It quickly became a success in Denmark and now it’s expanding worldwide – including Singapore.
It’s Sunday, the sun is shining, there’s a light breeze and you have nothing scheduled. It’s a perfect occasion to jump on your bike and feel the wind in your hair. People of all ages know that feeling, also the ones who are no longer able to actually do it. But they should be able to, so how can we help them?
That was the entrepreneur Ole Kassow’s thoughts when he started the project Cycling Without Age. On his way to work he saw this elderly man who sat on bench and one day decided to take him on a bike ride. Afterwards he started to offer rides on a borrowed rickshaw to people at a local nursing home. His personal charity soon became a bigger project and started to expand first nationally and later worldwide. Now it’s expanding to Singapore where Pernille Vedersø Bussone, who has been living in Singapore since August last year, is the local project manager.
“This concept has caught attention from people worldwide the last six months and that’s how I got in touch with Pernille who wants to give something positive back to Singapore. I found that very touching and that motivated me to help Cycling Without Age in Singapore get started,” Ole Kassow says.
Remembering the days
The basic point of Cycling Without Age is that volunteers take elderly people on a ride on a bicycle that is very similar to a taxi bike. But there’s another thing to it, because the founder, Ole Kassow, soon experienced that the bike ride made the elderly people reminisce. So the project developed to also being about the volunteers listening to exciting and nostalgic stories during the ride.
Pernille Vedersø Bussone now hopes to experience the same thing in Singapore. She also believes that there are elderly people in Singapore who are a bit isolated and don’t get out much. And according to her, there’s another factor that suggests that this will be a success.
“About 60 years ago, bicycles quite similar to the ones we use were apparently a popular thing here in Singapore, so my hope is that they will open up and talk about those days,” she says.
Won a bike
The project is constantly expanding and at the moment Cycling Without Age is represented in 23 cities in 13 countries besides Denmark. In a lot of cases it is still in an early phase and not up and running yet. That includes Singapore, but on a certain point they are one step ahead of many cities; they have a usable bicycle for the purpose – or at least it is one its way at the time being.
“DTU – the Danish Technical University – said that they wanted to donate a bicycle for one of the branches abroad, so there was a lottery between all the cities that are represented and Singapore won,” Pernille Vedersø Bussone says.
The bicycles are designed in a way that makes it easier for the volunteer and the passengers to have a conversation while riding through the wind, and now she is able to show organisations and associations what their financial support will go to.
“That’s very important to me, because it can be difficult to convince people to sponsor something that is not there physically yet. Now I can show them why it is important to use this exact bicycle,” she explains.
The founder comes on a visit
In the first weekend of July, the founder, Ole Kassow, is coming to visit Singapore and see how the project is developing. Cycling Without Age has become a busy business for him, but visiting the branches of the project worldwide is a high priority for Ole Kassow.
“I love to meet dedicated people and elderlies in new countries and cities, and I hope that this visit will give me some exciting and enriching relations and friendships. I also hope to learn more about and experience Singapore and find out how they can contribute to the development of Cycling Without Age,” he says.
Pernille Vedersø Bussone is excited and her hopes for a great result are high.