Rail trail cycle group gets funding for first trishaw to take everyone for a ride

The Casino Cycling Without Age committee of volunteers includes Anita Johnston, Ryan Johnston, Sandra Humphrys, Helen Maree Sjostedt, Tony Hennessy, Peter Comerford and Ruth Burt with mayor Robert Mustow and Narelle Cole at the start of the Casino Rail Trail.

Susanna Freymark

If you’re 100 years old or use a wheelchair you can still ride the rail trail from Casino to Bentley.

Cycling Without Age is a charity group that uses trishaws to take people who can’t ride and still want to feel the wind in their hair for a bike ride through the paddocks and hills of Richmond Valley.

At the opening of the Casino–Bentley Rail Trail in March, Pauline Digby and Elsie Keneally, both in their 90s, rode in a trishaw pedalled by the Tweed Cycling Without Age group.

Richmond Valley mayor was so impressed with the trishaws when he saw them in Murwillumbah in 2023, he wanted to see them in Casino.

“As soon as I saw the older people with smiles on their faces, I thought we need this in our community,” Mr Mustow said.

It was important the group was community-driven and not run by the council, so while the council supports the group, it is a group of volunteers who are making this happen, he said.

The first thing they need is the trishaws which cost about $25,000 each plus there is ongoing storage and running costs. The trishaw riders are volunteers.

On Saturday, June 29, the new Cycling Without Age group announced a collaboration between Casino Lions Club and Casino Rotary Club in purchasing the first trishaw.

The trishaws are made in Australia and have an electric support motor to assist riders.

Committee member Tony Hennessy said he first saw the trishaw at the Beef Week Parade.

“I went wow, that’s amazing,” he said.

The trishaw from Tweed at the Beef Week Parade in May.

Eventually, there will be a booking system and while rides are free, the group is happy to receive donations.

Sheryl Wilkes from Casino Rotary said she saw the trishaws at Beef Week too.

“It’s a good way to use the rail trail that’s here,” she said.

“I have a father in a nursing home and it would be amazing to take him for a rode.”

Lions Club president Denise Green said the trishaws were ideal for those who are socially excluded because of age or disability.

Denise also coordinates the Blind Citizens of Australia Group and the rides will be ideal for those who are visually impaired.

Tony said the plan was to get three trishaws that hold two passengers and another trishaw that is adapted to be used with a wheelchair.

He was thrilled with the donations from the two community clubs.

“I know how hard it is to get $12,500 each, it’s a lot of money,” he said.

Casino Lions Club members and Casino Rotary Club members with Tony Hennessy from Casino Cycling Without Age.

“We are unbelievably grateful.”

Tony said it would take a while to get the first trishaw.

He told the crowd gathered why the Cycling Without Age was so important.

“A woman who was ‘locked in’ and had not communicated to anybody for a long time was put in a trishaw (up on the northern trail).

“She started singing and she had a smile on her face. For a moment she was unlocked. That moment took her back to her youth.”

While the moment for the ‘locked’ woman didn’t last, it was special and touched Tony.

If you’d like to donate to help the group get trishaws happening on the rail trail at Casino below are the bank details.

BSB 083 170 Account: 41-197-2808

Here are photos from the rail trail opening in March.

Pauline Digby and Elsie Keneally take the first ride at the Casino-Bentley Rail Tail opening. Photos: Susanna Freymark

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