British Columbia

'Duet bicycle' takes Yaletown seniors for ride around seawall

An unusual new contraption - the 'duet bicycle' - is helping Yaletown seniors get out and about on the Vancouver seawall.

The bicycle reduces depression, increases social interaction - and draws smiles from young and old alike

Glen Paul and Maria Wotter show off the duet bike that is used at Yaletown House, a non-profit seniors care facility. Volunteers can take seniors for a ride along the seawall in downtown Vancouver. (Jodie Martinson/CBC)

If you've been out on a stroll along the seawall lately, you might have noticed an unusual contraption winding its way round Stanley Park — it's called the 'duet bicycle.'

The bikes have been fitted with an oversized plastic chair, similar to a car seat, strapped to the front and are designed for people who want to get outdoors, but are unable to do so because of mobility issues.

Yaletown House, a non-profit seniors care facility in downtown Vancouver, owns two 'duet bicycles' and uses volunteers to cycle its seniors around the seawall.

"I've had innumerable chances to observe that life can turn on a dime, and you may get to a ripe old age and very suddenly your circumstances, your ability changes," said Glen Paul, a volunteer who helped create the program.

The purpose of the bike is to reduce stress, increase social interaction and provide access to areas generally limited to biking.

'I go where I want'

CBC producer Jodie Martinson, steering a bike with one hand, stretching a microphone out with the other, took a ride alongside Paul and 90-year-old Maria Wotter.

"If I had the money, I'd hire him as a butler and a driver," said Wotter. "I feel free, I go where I want."

Paul says they get a lot of smiles from people while riding.

"Many people say they have a family member or someone else with a disability and they are so keen to see there is equipment out there that might help," said Paul.

Yaletown House is still looking for more volunteers to chauffeur seniors around on the duet bicycle. If you have what it takes, contact volunteer coordinator Cori Witvoet at 604 806 4206 or email her at cwitvoet@yaletown.org.

With files from Jodie Martinson

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