Earn-A-Bike Co-op, a local bicycle outreach organization that offers bicycle maintenance and education classes to community members, has partnered with the Ella Austin Community Center for its newest location and programming venture, Cycling Without Age.
The program, which was founded in Denmark in 2012, aims to engage the elderly community by offering a free, volunteer-based service where community members take the city's senior citizens out for a bike ride on specially-designed "trishaw" cycles, which resemble pedicabs.
"We're trying to take elderly people out, remove them from isolation and get them exposed again to being outside and feeling the joy of cycling," said Earn-A-Bike co-founder Cristian Sandoval.
Cycling Without Age will make its official San Antonio debut on Sunday, March 13 at noon at the Ella Austin Community Center, with members of the Ella Austin senior community center as the first official participants of the program.
Volunteer drivers will be trishaw-trained members of SATX Social Ride who will drive senior participants to and from the Hays Street Bridge on two trishaws – which accommodate two riders and one cyclist each – owned by Earn-A-Bike.
The organization is hoping to raise enough funds to purchase 15 trishaws to accommodate senior citizens all over San Antonio, Sandoval said.
Volunteers can sign up for a trishaw training class on the Earn-A-Bike website here to prepare for future Cycling Without Age events. Donations to the organization's trishaw fund can also be made on the website.
After the rides on Sunday, attendees are invited to gather at Ella Austin at 1 p.m. for a small lunch.
Those who take part in the event on Sunday will also get the chance to experience Earn-A-Bike's new co-op location at Ella Austin, which will function as a community bicycle shop and educational space for the neighborhood's youth.
The organization opened an Eastside location last June at the Martinez St. Women's Center, but due to space needs they decided to move it to Ella Austin. The co-op's home base is located in the Westside at 2619 Guadalupe St.
The new location is expected to be open daily from 3-8 p.m., Sandoval said, with certain time frames set aside for the neighborhood youth programming including bike mechanic and safety classes. Youth who choose to participate in the educational classes will earn "bike bucks" which can be used to purchase a number of items at the center, including bicycle parts, entire bikes, and Earn-A-Bike T-shirts.
"We are really excited about this partnership because the Eastside has a lot of opportunity to bring more youth programming and to get the community excited about healthy living and cycling," Sandoval said.
*Top image: Cyclists cross under the historic Hays Bridge. Photo by Scott Ball.