'Tri' a new mode of transport in the Cairngorms
The public are being treated to a new transport of delight.
The innovative system is a "bicycle made by two" - two public bodies, that is.
The e-trishaw now available in the strath has been facilitated by the Cairngorms National Park and Scottish Natural Heritage to help people with physical and mental health problems enjoy the restorative benefits of cycling – or being cycled, at least – in the outdoors.
CNPA and SNH have jointly purchased the electric trishaw, which can take up to two passengers and is piloted by a trained volunteer.
It means that – for various reasons – people who have not been able to access the outdoors can now do so safely.
Helping launch the initiative at the Highland Folk Park in Newtonmore on Thursday were clients from Caberfeidh Horizons, the Kingussie-based social enterprise for adults and and young people with learning disabilities, mental health issues and addiction problems – and members of the Badenoch Shinty Memories Group, whose aim is to help create a supportive environment for people in the area who are living with challenging issues such as dementia.
They were joined by representatives from Alzheimers Scotland, the Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport Company, the Park Authority and SNH.
The vehicle is being managed by the Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport Company under their ‘Where2Today?’ project.
They are also responsible for recruiting and training trishaw pilots with Mikes Bikes of Aviemore taking care of maintenance and repairs.
To begin with, the ‘Where2Today’ project will identify client groups to work with – such as day care centres, local nursing homes or individuals who are socially isolated– but in time it is hoped that if there is demand, the trishaw and a pilot can be booked for a ‘cycle ride’.
Maggie Lawson, development manager for the Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport Company, explained: “Relatives or friends of older people who they think would benefit from being out in the fresh air, can give us a call any time at the office or email us their enquiry on email@example.com .
"Eventually we will have a system in place where volunteers can put their availability forward to take clients out on the e-trishaw.
"We will also require a buddy system where a cyclist rides along in front of the trishaw to ensure the safety of passengers.
“It will be used in Aviemore to begin with but if we have the use of a trailer, it will allow for the trishaw to be used in other communities too, as we know there are already requests coming in.
"Despite having trained 14 volunteers we are still looking for more and further training sessions will be arranged very soon for anyone who is interested.”
David Clyne, CNPA's recreation and access manager, explained the idea behind the new transport was to help more people safely enjoy being out in the national park.
He said: “It's great for people with mobility issues, medical conditions or mental health problems. I myself have trained as a volunteer pilot and I am really looking forward to meeting lots of people and helping them to enjoy the feeling of ‘cycling’ in the outdoors."
One of the client groups likely to benefit greatly from this safe way to access the outdoors are those people with dementia.
For that reason the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore was chosen for the launch of the project, with people able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the museum which may be familiar to them.