Cycling Without Age (CWA)

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Cycling Without Age (CWA)

Copenhagen, Denmark
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Our mission is to enhance the quality of senior living by means of bicycles, adding colour to an individual's social life and stimulating good health.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

By involving our elders and attracting young people to new cycling initiatives, CWA is able to address issues such as health, mobility, environment, and unemployment. Together we seek to highlight the positive and broad outcomes of cycling e.g. quality of life and life expectancy by making the bicycle one's first choice of activity and daily means of transport. The Public Health Department of Copenhagen looks to tackle some of the higher complexity issues faced by the ageing population. Loneliness is one the dominant underlying issues which many elderly people suffer from. Loneliness can lead to further mental health problems and distorts one's perspective on life and health. CWA primarily focuses on sufferers in care institutions but also reaches out to elderly people who still live independently. Currently nursing homes carefully manage daytime activities in order to encourage social interactions. However, these activities are restricted to care home vicinities, are often done in prearranged group form, have little patient empowerment and prohibit an individual's need for a variety of different relationships. The social life of an individual is governed by the nursing home and highly depends on staff's work schedules which are often tight and constrained. Individuals are confined to an area of a single building and nursing home grounds where activities are usually done in large groups with little opportunity for one-to-one interaction. The issue becoming apparent is that care homes have become very much institutionalised with residents having little decision in how they go about their day-to-day lives, all decisions are micromanaged. On the larger scale there is a fixed perception shared not only amongst residents and families but by many western societies, that nursing homes are the dreaded final residency and once in, you become restricted in many aspects of your life. It is also perceived in society that the increasing ageing population is placing a heavy burden on the economy, resulting in a growing negative stigma towards our older generations. By restricting elderly residents to the care home vicinities we are segregating them from the local communities in which they had previously grown up and lived in. This segregation only heightens this perception that the elderly contribute little causing our respect towards the elderly dwindles.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

CWA is a civil society initiative collaborating with the public sector to tackle health issues by engaging the community in network activities focussing on physical excercise and sustainable relations. Being non-textbook and outside the standard institution's framework, the solution takes an important element of the typical Danish lifestyle and reincorporates it back into an individual senior's life. Growing up in Denmark cycling is a way of life from childhood to late adulthood. But need it stop then even if one's functions are challenged? CWA's core idea is to arrange rickshaw cycling tours in and around the city and to team volunteer chauffeurs with elderly residents. CWA is innovative by providing a simple template that can be easily modified and adapted to varying local settings. CWA acknowledges that an individual has a need for different types of relationships. Through voluntarism the elders form new relationships that are neither time-bound nor obligated. The relationship between chauffeur and passenger offers a 1-to-1 interaction based on equal terms. Volunteers can range across ages and backgrounds. Sharing of stories, memories and local news turns a volunteering stranger into a familiar person and creates a genuine relation. While these cycling tours remain simple they boast a wide spectrum of benefits; a key ingredient behind these tours is that the passengers individually or collectively decide on a cycling route or destination. This is a great form of patient empowerment, as it gives them back their voice along with freedom to determine which direction they want to take. These tours testify the current movement of focussing on improving quality of life as well as exhibiting itself as a form of health promotion for both chauffeur and passenger. Chauffeurs undertake a form of recreational exercise while the passenger endures a multi-stimulatory experience. Being out in the open fresh air and local surroundings stimulates many of the senses that are otherwise normally dormant. A surge of memories will be triggered which will in turn stimulate conversation. Being seen out and about also gives back the elders their rightful place in society. CWA seeks to ensure that the potential and resources in each individual contribute to a local community and society at large. CWA encourages involvement no matter your life, place or living situation.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Volunteers can arrange the tours either individually with the passenger or through staff. The arrangement may be initiated by any of the three parties. Positive comments from the elders: Joanna: 'CWA is the best that has happened to since moving into the nursing home. I suffer from osteoporosis so I still have a sharp mind whilst most of my neighbours suffer from dementia. My CWA friend gives me the neccessary space and freedom to stay sane.' Wife, of Benny who has Parkinson's: 'CWA enables us to enjoy common activities outside the nursing home. The stimulation of Benny's senses makes a big difference in his appearance and capability. I'm pleased he still has access to such great experiences'. Volunteer (herself elder on social support): 'Contact to the nursing home, the elders and the physical excercise motivates me to break from isolation and re-enter employment. I manage better now.' This article by an American visitor describes the activities in great (photo) detail: Find daily stories and pictures on CWA’s Facebook page ‘Cykling uden alder’:

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The solution provided by CWA is very simple and at the same time totally innovative. Some solutions exist in Denmark where nursing homes have bought side-by-side bikes for elders to ride with staff but in most cases these bikes are not being used. Simply because there isn’t enough staff time available. CWA is therefore capable of making use of these unused bicycles and other initiatives in its scheme by utilising its network of volunteers. As a general principle we are trying to include as many existing bicycle-based solutions as possible thereby turning competing solutions into co-stakeholders.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


Implementer(s) and cooperation partners

Purpose Makers



Country where main implementer is located

, CO, Copenhagen

How long has the main implementer been operating?

Less than a year

Please provide a short description of the main implementer.

Ole Kassow is a social innovator, entrepreneur, speaker and advisor with a passion to make a difference. He addresses and motivates involvement, enchantment, collaboration, CSR, livable cities, open data, cycling, knowledge sharing, social capital and openness. Ole is the founder of Purpose Makers who believes that the future belongs to purpose-driven companies and organizations. Such companies and organizations will have strong cultures, engaged and happy employees and enthusiastic customers, patients, citizens and users. They're here to change the world.

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Cooperation partner

City of Copenhagen dept. of Health and Care


Public body

How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? What competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?

Provide access and knowlegde about target groups.
Specialists in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dementia, motor skills and gerontology.
HR; consultant for intersectoral collaboration to help coordinate and build framework for implementation and sustainability. Funding of rickshaws.

Cooperation partner

Please select

How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Cooperation partner

Please select

How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Cooperation partner

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How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Problem and solution
Which of these fields of Active and Healthy Ageing are addressed by your initiative?

Health literacy and patient empowerment, Prevention and early diagnosis of functional and cognitive decline, Assisted daily living, Social inclusion (intergenerational practice, work and volunteering), Age friendly buildings, environments, and communities.

If none of the above, answer here:
Please describe if and how your stakeholders (cooperation partners, funders, users, etc.) have been participating in defining the problem and developing the solution.

The professionals in the Health Care Sector frequently find that it is these higher complexity issues facing elderly people that causes the most amount of silent suffering. The extensive research and analysis undertaken has defined that loneliness is one of the most devastating 'symptoms' of senior living that can often spiral down into severe mental health problems. Loneliness transitions from being an emotional state to a way of living and the hardship of life is why the Department of Health urgently seeks to half the number of silent suffers by 2015 and instead boost living standards by means of health promotion.

However the solution emerged when a citizen, Ole Kassow, took initiative by testing an alternative idea with his elderly neighbours at the local nursing home. The success sparked an equally balanced collaboration between Mr Kassow and the City of Copenhagen's Department of Health. This civil service - public sector collaboration soon blossomed being the first of its kind. The further development of the solution has involved responding to the voices of the key stakeholders such as relatives, nursing home staff, volunteers and of course, the elderly residents.

Has your solution been tested in trials, experimentations, or pilot projects? If yes, please describe the process and outcome.

Ole Kassow initially tested out his idea in his local borough of Copenhagen by turning up unannounced to one of the nursing homes with a rented rickshaw bicycle to offer city tours to willing residents. From this initiative there soon followed an immediate and high demand for future tours.

His willingness to interact and his active engagement to each individual and allowing them to take charge in direction soon caught the attention of the City's Department of Health and Care. When he asked for funding of a single rickshaw to be bought and placed in a nursing home, they allocated funding for five. This innovative idea was received incredibly well and soon there was a need for its implementation on a larger scale.

A nursing home far from the capital, in Hjørring, adapted the scheme to their local settings by resourcing enthusiastic volunteers who were undergoing the hardship of unemployment. These volunteers benefitted immensely and this example testifies the flexibility and the true potential that this simple model holds.

Due to the overall success and media attention there is a high demand for rickshaw bicycle schemes to be met in many of care homes in Copenhagen.

How long has your solution been in operation?

for less than a year

Please select the relationship between your solution and related solutions currently established in our society. Is your solution…

substitutive (your solutions is substituting existing solutions because they do not meet needs or solve the problem appropriately)

What barriers might hinder the success of your initiative? How do you plan to overcome them?

Initially whilst starting up there were many concerns expressed by As the initiative is new and unconventional there was anxiety and reservations amongst staff surrounding patient responsibility. Some relatives shared these concerns particularly regarding safety. Some residents who had not ventured out in public for a while had mild reservations towards meeting and trusting someone new. Our strategy is to highlight the benefits and previous experiences of other residents and to strongly communicate what is in place to prevent any of these fears coming to light. We aim to achieve this through dialogue, using examples, stories, photos and videos from the tours. Our aim is now to display clear information in brochure and website formats.

We anticipate further barriers when spreading CWA internationally mainly regarding the accessibility. In order for the tours to be successful, access to sufficient cycling infrastructure or terrain is essential. CWA aims to publish a free online 'Cookbook' offering guidance to adapting cities. CWA also has strong links with Copenhagenize, a cycling infrastructure consultancy agency that aids cities around the world in becoming more bike friendly.

Organization and funding
Regularly paid employees



22 regular chauffeurs, 70 members of the volunteer group on Facebook and 1 organizer overseeing the project.



External advisers and experts

Input through networks; Copenhagenize, Cykelrepublikken, CycleLove. Pool of resources from all involved individuals.

Others (please specify)
What are the specific professional backgrounds and competencies your team brings to the initiative?

Together we have the capacity to create social innovation based on unconventional thinking, creativity and the ability to see patterns of common resources and possible connections between individuals, groups, institutions, and sectors.

Backgrounds: Management, Education, Social Entrepreneurship, Neuroscience.
Competencies in: Leadership/Organisation. Building strong relations, value creation through networking. Start-ups; creative minds and the belief that we can change ways and circumstances. Community-based approaches, Intersectoral collaboration, curiosity and positive mindsets.

Please describe your management or coordination structure in the initiative.

The core DNA of this initiative is the strong network structure which seeks to be less hierarchical and decentralised. Thereby initiators/managers coordinate and motivate an increasingly more complex set of relations. Action and day-to-day implementation will spring from the network built/developed along with the social structure of interaction between beneficiaries/stakeholders in the broad sense. We encourage a bottom-up flow of ideas and decision-making. The structure is fluid and flexible to suit the situational setting and context in the various communities wishing to adapt the idea.

Please provide the total yearly budget in Euro that your initiative spends on implementing the solution.

€6,666 for organising start-up. Add the cost of rickshaws: €5,333 per bicycle.

National public funding

100% so far.

European Union public funding


Economic return from own products/services


Foundations and philanthropy capital


Single donations from private individuals


Donations from private companies


Crowdfunding platforms


Participation fees


Other (please specify)


Target group, scale and impact
Which target group(s) do you want to reach with your solution?

There are three main beneficiaries/target groups:

1) Elderly residents in nursing homes (usually 80 years+) with males and females equally represented on the tours.

2) Volunteers; ages ranging from 15 to 72 both male and female.

3) Co-riders who wish to join alongside the tours on their own bicycles. Citizens of all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds; children, youth, adults, seniors.

All target groups cover a broad social spectrum.

Please estimate the number of persons within your target group (users, clients, etc.) that you currently reach directly with your solution.

500 in Copenhagen alone; elderly beneficiaries, volunteers, co-riders.

In which local/regional/national area(s) is the solution currently implemented?

Primarily Copenhagen; (City and the Østerbro quarter). City of Hjørring and City of Brøndby. 4 more cities at start-up level.

What is the impact on your target group (users, clients) you want to generate?

CWA sparks social interaction amongst elders which significantly minimises isolation. We avail cycling tours to residents on different bicycle types. Riders have the option to use specialised bikes catered for individual health requirements. We will advocate for accessible cities no matter your age or physical condition. Co-riders will gain knowledge about specialised bicycles whilst attending the cycling tours. Targeting mixed generations will eliminate prejudice towards specialised bicycles and creates awareness about traffic safety particularly towards senior citizens.

What is the wider impact on society you want to generate?

CWA hopes to change the general perceptions of care institutions and elderly people. The service and support rendered will not only address your functioning disability but refresh an individual's view on life. CWA will pave the way for specialised bikes in the streets and for all ages to engage in society. CWA is a health promoting platform for exercise, inspiration and delivery of a health promotion network. CWA testifies as an example to healthy ageing and a high quality of senior living. CWA and stakeholders will create a community-based approach to solving issues of health inequalities.

What are the impacts on your target group you already achieved?

Immediate achievements include:
Five different nursing homes each owning a single rickshaw which can be accessed by over 400 elderly residents.
22 regular volunteers, 70 signed up, 130 co-riders.
Connections made with like-minded networks to achieve common goals; awareness of special needs cyclists, advocacy for accessibility, mobilising volunteers.

We inform decision-makers about our progress to influence strategies on cycling. CWA has so far been copied in 2 cities, start-up dialogue is currently active in 3 cities. Reciprocity and open source enables easy transfer to new settings.

How has the impact of your initiative been assessed?

Experience-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on your experiences with the target group), Feedback-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on feedback from the target group without using specific methods).

Public information and strategy
What information on your initiative is publicly available?

Mission and strategy, Organisational structure, Information on team members, Activity report, Working method and 'theory of change'.

Please indicate webpage or contact for obtaining the respective information.

Project documents accessible from Ole Kassow: Ph: +4531341980 or Dorthe Pedersen: Ph: +4524524452

What are your milestones for further developing, implementing, and establishing your initiative in the next three years? Please describe 1-3 milestones.

- Make CWA available to senior citizens in the majority of Denmark's 105 municipalities by the end of 2014.
- Develop a website in Danish and English by the end of Q3 2013 (in order to share experience, knowhow and start-up advice).
- Sign up as the first company or organisation to engage in corporate volunteering by end 2013.
- Play our part in Copenhagen’s ‘European Green Capital 2014’ events.
- Produce 10 short films with elders riding in rickshaws in their old neighbourhoods and sharing their life stories. First film by the end of 2013. The rest by the end of 2014.