Patrons of the B&A Trail could find themselves sharing the popular path with an unfamiliar set of wheels this year.
Local bicycling advocate Sandy Bishop recently established Cycling Without Age Anne Arundel, thus introducing the three-wheeled trishaw to our community.
Cycling Without Age began in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2012 as a way to give senior citizens who could no longer operate a bicycle themselves the opportunity to enjoy a ride. The trishaw setup allows for two passengers to take a leisurely outing with a “pilot” at the pedals. These vehicles have motor assist, so even novice cyclists are capable of driving them.
Thanks to Bishop, the residents at Sunrise Senior Living of Severna Park, with whom the program has partnered, now have the chance to experience nature and community aboard a trishaw.
“Reception has been exceptional,” said Bishop, who is also on the board of directors of Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, or Bike AAA.
So far, Bishop has learned of only one complaint from the residents at Sunrise who have utilized this free service: they want more ride time.
Carol Jones, a Sunrise Severna Park resident who grew up in Severna Park, appreciates exploring her old stomping ground in a new way.
“It was just great fun to get out there and see Severna Park. I lived in Severna Park when they built the bike trail, so I know the bike trail well and I love to get on it,” said Jones, who previously lived in Olde Severna Park and Linstead.
Bishop learned of Cycling Without Age by chance. After her biological children were grown and had moved on from their home, she and her husband adopted three pre-teen daughters, all with disabilities.
“We were empty nesters for two weeks,” Bishop quipped.
Now an adult herself, one of her younger daughters rides a motor assist tricycle to and from work, a route that requires her to ride along Benfield Road.
“It’s not the safest way to go, but it’s the only way,” Bishop explained.
Motivated to improve the safety infrastructure for her daughter and all transportation cyclists with disabilities, Bishop joined Bike AAA. While researching a safer product for her daughter to ride, she stumbled upon Cycling Without Age.
“With the bike trail right here in Severna Park, this just seemed like the most obvious thing to do,” Bishop said.
Last November, Bishop was invited by Bike AAA president Jon Korin to present her plan for Cycling Without Age at the group’s annual meeting. Both Bishop and Korin recalled their surprise when another participant informed them of a grant through the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, the deadline for which was in 48 hours, and offered to help Bishop draft a proposal.
The project was awarded a grant for $10,000, enough for a down payment on the $15,000 vehicle.
The first Cycling Without Age trishaw made its debut at Sunrise Severna Park on April 1.
“Sandy really has the perfect blend of skills and personality to bring this to life so rapidly,” Korin said.
Bishop’s bevy of connections in the bicycling world have contributed to a long list of volunteers at her disposal for the project.
“I actually have a problem that a lot of organizations would love to have — I have too many people who have expressed interest and really not enough resources to be able to train everybody and actually utilize all of the people who’ve expressed interest at this point,” Bishop said of the roughly 20 volunteers already trained to pilot the trishaw and 20 more waiting in the wings.
Bishop’s larger vision involves a whole fleet of trishaws and other adaptive vehicles in Anne Arundel County and beyond. In the European model of Cycling Without Age, the rides are often done in groups and made into social outings for ice cream or coffee, she said. Achieving that goal would require more trishaws, and therefore more funding.
“There are so many possibilities,” Bishop said. “And I would like to explore all of them.”