As a doctor, Lauren Lypchuk has made people feel better from various illnesses and ailments.
But nothing has been more uplifting over the past quarter-century for the Vernon doctor and her husband, Ward Strong, than watching the success of the Cycling Without Age program the pair brought to the North Okanagan in 2019.
With the help of a specially built three-wheeled bicycle called a trishaw, which includes a front-passenger seat for two, Cycling Without Age is designed to give seniors free bike rides along such areas as the Okanagan Rail Trail, down to Okanagan Landing and through and around Polson Park.
“Everyone has the right to wind in their hair,” said Lypchuk, quoting the program’s motto. “The smiles on the peoples’ faces has been worth everything. This is one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever done.”
With a grant from Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, Lypchuk and Strong were able to purchase a trishaw, then stored it at, and got insurance through, the late Jack Gareb at the Schubert Centre. New Schubert manager Shirley Higgins has picked up where Gareb left off and has offered continued support for the cycling program.
The duo trained more than 40 people to be “pilots,” the people who drive the bikes around the city.
“The first year was fantastic,” Lypchuk said. “We took 500 people on rides and put 4,200 kilometres on the bike. With Ward and a mechanic looking after, the bike is in great shape.
“Reaction to the program was great. We had plenty of smiles from the passengers, who waved whenever somebody honked a horn as they passed them on the bike.”
The couple is planning for Year 2, which includes adding a second bike, purchased with help from another CFNO grant (waiting on its arrival).
Rides will begin on May 18 and, with two bikes now available, more pilots will be needed. An informational meeting will be held in March and training will begin in April. More information can be received by sending an email to email@example.com.
Lypchuk has added a couple of more seniors residences to her list, which is where those who would like free rides sign up. There’s also a sign-up sheet at the Schubert Centre for those wishing rides who live independently or with family.
If you would like to support the program financially (or support the Schubert Centre as it continues to try and raise funds for needed repairs), you can make a donation at the centre. Any donation of $25 or more is eligible for a tax receipt.