Cycling for the Young at Heart… on a Trike

2 minute read

EDIT 27/07/20: This blog was originally posted just one month before Olivia de Havilland died age 104. Not only a great Hollywood legend but a wonderful role model for cycling at all ages. RIP.

If you think that cycling is just for the young – think again. There is no limit to the age at which you can cycle. These ladies are in good company – and join the ranks of popular broadcaster Gyles Brandreth (think Countdown) and Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland in their favoured mode of transport.

Olivia de Havilland is one of the greats. You may have seen her in the Oscar-winning Gone With the Wind. In those early acting days she rode her bike… as many did. What’s really wonderful is that she is just about to turn 104 and is still cycling – nowadays on her trike. The first photo here (posted on twitter by Larry Karaszewski @karaszewski) shows her cycling in Paris just last year – still carrying herself with beauty and glamour.

So when I talk about ‘cycling’  I don’t just mean ‘riding a bicycle’; I mean riding a trike too (in fact there are lots of other types of cycle too which I’m saving for another day). In recent months, maybe thanks to the quiet street space during lockdown, more mature cyclists have been taking to the saddle and tricycles are growing in popularity.

You probably rode a trike when you were a child… for me it’s one of those very vague, long ago memories which stirs a great feeling of nostalgia way before the exciting moment when I spotted my first bike under the Christmas tree. Somehow those early day trike memories make me feel comforted and secure with a great sense of fun thrown in.

The security felt on a trike by a child who has not yet learnt to ride a bike, or as an adult of any age who prefers this more stable mode of travel is increasingly important as we get older. Of course tricycles are not just for those in their early years or golden years… they are good for all ages. However, as they give much better stability than bicycles, especially when carrying your shopping, they are a great solution for those less steady on a bicycle.

The availability of electric bicycles also makes cycling easier than in the past and open to more people – and electric trikes are available as well. If you’ve weak knees or have hip problems, an electric trike (or e-trike) will give you the power and the stability to really go places… and carry your shopping, picnic or whatever with you.

Gyles Brandreth has recently taken to three wheels and has been sharing his experiences through his twitter posts (@gylesB1). Being the great wordsmith that he is, he has named his trike Zephyr – a light breeze. Very fitting.

The two ladies featured in our main photograph are from the Republic of Ireland where trike sales are really booming. 

“It’s a game changer for my mother’s mobility and health, I’m sure it’ll change her world” said Richard Silke (@silkerichard) who provided this photo of his mother and her neighbour.  “My mother is the type of person who knows half of Galway! I reckon it’s only a matter of time before all the bridge club and Salthill/Knocknacarra Active Retirement are on trikes.”

They are also great role models because – although they’re not from Hollywood – they still look gorgeous and glam. I mean look at those pearls! Seeing these ladies out on their trikes having so much fun and dressed so normally for their everyday trips must surely be an inspiration to others like them.

While we are mentioning clothing, this is a good example of how cycling, or triking, can be done in everyday clothes. High vis and helmets aren’t needed for a gentle ride on a trike, at low speed, on safe routes during daytime. In more challenging circumstances however, eg if  out at night, people on trikes may choose to get kitted out brightly so people driving can see them more easily. It’s personal choice and the need depends on your own situation which you can judge – if you are happier in a helmet, then use one.

So if anyone says they are too old to cycle, or their knees are too weak, or their balance too wobbly, please tell them about Olivia, Gyles and the ladies in Ireland and encourage them to give triking a go.

Perhaps surprisingly, we are not trying to sell trikes. We are a UK-based social enterprise promoting safe, active, sustainable everyday travel for all. We’ve been doing this for children for over 16 years under the name Brightkidz… and now the adults get a turn as we have just launched our Brightwayz side.

We do supply an increasing range of products to support active travel campaigns. As an asset-locked business all profits are ploughed back and used to support our social aims. We look forward to providing many more useful blogs and resources to support the great work you are all doing to engage more people in active travel.

Photo credits: Richard Silke, Gyles Brandreth/twitter, Larry Karaszewski/twitter, Pexel (girl on trike)

Alison Holland

Alison Holland is a passionate advocate for walking and cycling for everyday journeys as well as for making places better for all. She has worked in the active travel sector for over 16 years as founder of Brightkidz social enterprise, now incorporating Brightwayz, providing resources and support for those working on active travel campaigns across the UK.

2 thoughts on “Cycling for the Young at Heart… on a Trike

  • 29/06/2020 at 4:18 pm
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    About 40 years ago I was friends with a cyclist who was 76 and he regularly cycled throughout his life. He gave me a book to read called ‘Spins of the cycling parson’. He showed me a newspaper cut-out about the parson. He was still cycling at 92! Not on a trike though – his vehicle only had two wheels.

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