On Sunday evening, May 15, the Granite State Wheelers announced the winners of their annual grant giving project. The Wheelers give out $2,500 grants to each of the 10 best bicycling improvement projects proposed by New Hampshire groups competing for the honor.
Friends of the Northern Rail Trail (FNRT) won one of these generous grants to help fund an ambitious project that will start out in Lebanon, and hopefully be adopted by other cities/towns along the Northern Rail Trail. It is called Cycle Without Age (CWA) and is being spearheaded by FNRT’s board member Amy Chan in partnership with the city of Lebanon’s Park and Recreation Department.
Cycle Without Age is an international volunteer-based program that connects seniors or less abled individuals with pilots (cyclists) who take them for rides on an electric passenger trishaw. The program aims to increase access to the Northern Rail Trail and the bike-friendly streets of Lebanon for those who have mobility restrictions. A side benefit will be that volunteer piloting gives older adults who need e-assist but don’t own an e-bike an opportunity to continue cycling by participating in our volunteer program.
Amy notes that “most of our passengers will be aged 80+, so those who grew up in this region will remember the railroads. I believe this will be the first CWA program associated with a Rail Trail. FNRT has always valued and invested in preserving our railroad history. What better way to preserve railroad history than to give those who lived it a chance to tell their stories to a younger generation while out enjoying the Trail together?”
FNRT will raise the funds to purchase the electric trishaw and work with Lebanon Park and Recreation to build a storage shed onto a city-owned garage near the Lebanon trailhead. FNRT will build a team of volunteer cyclists and train them. Lebanon Park and Rec will facilitate the program with their online sign up and participant waiver system and will provide background checks for volunteers.
This generous award by the Granite State Wheelers validates what can be done and is being done to encourage safe and fun outdoor recreation for all ages in our area.