The cycling without age initiative helps to tackle the overlooked risk factor of loneliness and isolation for the elderly and people living with and vulnerable to develop diabetes in Munich.

Volunteers offer the elderly free rides on a specially designed bicycle called a trishaw, which helps them to reconnect to the world beyond their living quarters, improves their social connections, and strengthens community ties in the later years of life.

Launched on the eve of the COVID-19 global pandemic and catering to people most at-risk, the programme saw 6 months of standby, demanding agility and ingenuity of project managers stay engaged and deliver on its purpose. 

In three months, a new chapter was launched with two trishaws in Munich including the training of 26 volunteers, and increased media attention focusing on elderly care. Even though the initial launch and rides had to be put on hold due to covid, three outcomes still manifested: 

Trained volunteers - By engaging to serve the elderly and contributing to their communities, the volunteers gained a strong sense of fulfilment and satisfaction over both being physically active and doing some good. 

Built a network of support - The project brought together a strong network of organisations and people, who were determined, innovative and full of goodwill in the face of the challenges of the global pandemic. 

Mindset shift - Many of the critical stakeholders experienced an important shift in mindset early on in the development of the project regarding how much is possible with the elderly.

● Ensure low barriers to entry - Make it easy to understand. It is rewarding for pilots, passengers and support staff. The easier it is to engage and get started, the better.

● There’s a universal appeal - The fundamentals – wheels, nature, community engagement and the chance to build relationships -- transcend regional and national boundaries. This project could work in most urban areas. 

● Administration takes time - Depending on the context, there may be more administrative work than anticipated. Remember to ask for help and engage people familiar with the setting.

● Digital advocacy - Online spend with social media does not have to be a significant investment. Let it be visual and story-driven, the concept appeals to many people.

Cycling Without Age, Radlen Ohne Alter (Cycling Without Age Germany), Cities Changing Diabetes, Fritz Kistler Haus, ASZ Obermenzing.