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A project enabling older people living in care homes to get ‘on their bikes’ and which has gained international attention is to be evaluated by psychologists at Heriot-Watt.

Cycling Without Age Falkirk featured in a recent BBC3 short film as part of their Amazing Humans series which has been viewed over 25 million times. Cycling Without Age is a global initiative that began in Denmark in 2012 and has since spread to over 30 countries.

It’s clear from the coverage that the project has captured people’s imaginations, and that’s due in no small part to the work of Christine, Fraser and their Group Committee members.

Dr Alan Gow, Heriot-Watt University

Volunteer community group Communities Along the Carron Association brought Cycling Without Age to Falkirk earlier this year, the first such group in Scotland. They have now recruited over 30 volunteers to take care home residents on short trips around the local area using specially adapted bicycles called Trishaws.

Dr Alan Gow, Associate Professor in Psychology who will be working with the team to explore the potential benefits, said, “It’s clear from the coverage that the project has captured people’s imaginations, and that’s due in no small part to the work of Christine, Fraser and their Group Committee members, their team of willing volunteers and, of course, the care home staff and the residents themselves who are benefitting from getting out a bit more“.

Christine Bell, Project Coordinator for Cycling Without Age Falkirk, said, “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response. It’s been great to show the older people, the care home staff and our volunteers how people are responding to the project. But we’re not stopping here; the goal is to expand what we’re able to provide in the local area, and the ultimate aim is to take the initiative to other parts of the country too and our group have been granted the licence from Denmark to do that”.

Dr Gow added, “The team has been inundated with interest, and even those not in the area can get involved. As a community-based initiative, the bikes are bought and maintained through fundraising efforts, and every contribution will help the team to reach their goals”.

The Cycling Without Age Falkirk team were able to launch the project with support from the Scottish Government and the European Social Fund, and are currently raising funds to buy more Trishaws via their Crowdfunder page.

The Scottish Government has recently confirmed additional support to allow a roll-out of similar projects across Scotland. Go to Nationwide rollout of Cycling Without Age for more information.

Dr Gow and his team will report back on their findings about the benefits of the Falkirk project to continue supporting that wider roll-out.