When Teri Lund first approached her mother about an opportunity to go for a ride through Laramie on an electric-assisted pedicab, Lucie Lund was wary.
That wasn’t surprising; Lucie, 96, lives with advanced Alzheimer’s and has become less comfortable with change, less ambulatory and less verbal in recent years, Lund said.
“She was pretty skeptical as she is with almost everything that she doesn’t really recognize as being familiar,” Lund said.
Lund persisted, thinking it would be a good outing for her mother. And as soon as Lucie was wheeled outside and saw the trishaw, which resembles a rickshaw but with passengers up front, she said “‘oh, are we in Italy?” Lund recalls.
Lund had warned the trishaw’s pilot that Lucie would likely be nonverbal. “And here she whips out a full sentence.
“And then we headed out and, oh my god, she became so much more alert and verbal in a way that doesn’t necessarily mean she was making sense, but just chattering and pointing and smiling,” Lund said. She has observed the benefits continue beyond the rides, she said. Her mom, who previously spent much of her time slumped over and unresponsive, is more alert. “That is my observation that it has really stimulated some part of her brain that was not being stimulated before.”
The rides have “really meant a lot for her, and me,” Lund said.
Lucie was passenger No. 1 for the Laramie Trishaw Project, which affiliates with the nonprofit Miles of Smiles to offer regular pedal-powered cruises to elderly residents of Laramie assisted-living facilities. Three months on, the project gives 15-18 rides per week to residents of three facilities, according to Maryalice Snider, pilot and project co-director. She describes them as leisurely “joy rides” of about 4-5 miles, and ones that have major impacts on their passengers.
“I think any of us [pilots] can tell you a really fantastic story of people going out and being, you know, just amazed at what they can see,” Snider said. “It’s just the pleasure of being out in the fresh air on a bicycle and chatting.”
Snider worked with seniors before she retired; she and fellow director Lucille Norwood are members of Age Friendly Laramie. After they learned of a similar program in Cheyenne, they teamed to explore bringing a trishaw to Laramie.
With affiliate nonprofit Miles of Smiles Colorado and support from a 2023 AARP Community Challenge grant, they secured a specially made trishaw from Denmark. The trishaw has a feature for aiding mobility impaired individuals on and off, the passenger seat holds two and comes with belts and canopy. Pilots are trained to pedal and steer the large cycles.
The aim is to give free rides to folks who can no longer easily experience the joy of being on a bicycle on their own, Snider said. Passengers get noticed by passersby, get a chance to engage with their community and plus, who doesn’t love a bike ride?
“I think it’s really fun for them, but I really enjoy it myself,” Snider said.
To learn how to volunteer as a Laramie Trishaw Project pilot or for more information, email email@example.com.