There's a shiny new set of wheels at a local long-term care home.
A state-of-the-art, electric-assist, black, three-wheeled bicycle arrived today for the kick-off of a new initiative called Simcoe Cycle Without Age. On the front of the bike is a bench suitable for two to enjoy a leisurely ride on Collingwood's trail system.
With the help of a federal government grant through the New Horizons for Seniors program, the county purchased two of these bikes, one for Sunset Manor in Collingwood and the other for Georgian Manor in Penetanguishene.
Collingwood Mayor Brian Saunderson piloted the inaugural ride with his passengers Addie Slaughter and Eric Milton earlier today at Sunset Manor.
Jane Sinclair, manager of health and emergency services for the county, said recreational and social programs are an important part of the county's long term care service. She's excited to see the bikes put to use.
The bikes will be powered by volunteers - there are eight signed up in Collingwood so far - who will pedal around Collingwood's scenic trails with Sunset Manor residents belted snugly in the 'front seat.'
"These are people who are unable to get on a bicycle themselves," said Sinclair, adding the bicycle can be used by residents who can't get on a normal bicycle anymore.
The federal grant paid for the bicycles (about $12,000 each) and Kamikaze Bikes in Collingwood donated helmets and committed to two maintenance services per year.
Justin Jones is one of the local volunteers offering to take seniors out for a ride on the tri-bike. He's already familiar with the electric-assist, three-wheeled bike, as he has one he uses to take his young children around town.
"I love the opportunity to connect with people and engage in active transportation," said Jones. "Bikes are not just for people who are young and fit and clad in spandex ... This shows the power of cycling, and disrupts the vision of cycling as sport only."
He plans to volunteer about one hour per week to drive the tri-bike and take passengers around Collingwood's trail network and to the waterfront.
He said it makes a lot of sense for the county to start the bike program in Collingwood.
"We've got good, safe infrastructure to ride on," said Jones. "That's the most important part ... and it emphasizes the importance of building safe infrastructure."
There is still a need for volunteers to drive the bike. You can apply online here.