MUSSELBURGH actor James Martin showed he’s ‘still game’ by taking to the open road on a trike to mark the launch of a new cycling enterprise for older people in the town.

The 86-year-old joined the project organiser, firefighter and keen cyclist Ewan Dawson, 44, also from Musselburgh, and his wife Morna at the event at the Hollies Day Centre last Thursday.

The couple are leading the formation of a local chapter of global initiative Cycling Without Age in the hope of obtaining trishaws – three-wheel cycles with a passenger cab – for use in the local area.

One onlooker even suggested it could make a perfect storyline for award-winning Scottish sitcom Still Game, about Glaswegian pensioners Jack Jarvis and Victor McDade, in which Mr Martin plays the character Eric.

A non-profit volunteer group, Cycling Without Age provides cycle pilots to take older people and care home residents out and about to feel the wind in their hair.

Christine Bell of CWA Scotland, the national organisation for the delivery of Cycling Without Age, visited the Hollies with a trishaw to launch the group.

Mr Martin, a member of the Hollies board and volunteer in its charity shop, was delighted to be one of he first to try it out.

He said: “It was absolutely wonderful.

“I was taken down the River Esk to the Roman Bridge. The sun was shining and it was so relaxed.

“People were looking and waving. I recall someone saying that it could be used in a Still Game storyline.

“The trishaw itself is incredible. They can bring out waterproofing, extra warmth and foot platforms.

“I’d never been on one before and I think senior citizens would love it, as some don’t get out at all.”

Cycling Without Age was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2012.

Mr Dawson said: “I first became aware of Cycling Without Age two years ago on social media and thought it looked like a superb initiative for cycling cultures in the likes of Denmark and the Netherlands.

“In the autumn of last year I was made aware that the first UK chapter had been started along the M9 in Falkirk, which made me think: ‘If they can do it in Falkirk, we can definitely do it here in Musselburgh.’ “Excellent cycle routes along the River Esk and following the Promenade to Fisherrow Harbour convinced me we had an excellent venue right here.

“We bring generations closer together using very special trishaws which have electrical power assist, so there is no need to be super-sporty to be a volunteer cycle pilot.

“Our principles are generosity, slow cycling, storytelling, relationships and community. Our rides are comfortable, fun, fully insured and free.

“They enable people to experience the town and nature close-up from the bicycle. There’s opportunity to regain social connection and for people to tell their story in the environment where they have lived.

“Our work builds bridges between generations and reinforces trust, respect and the social glue of our society. Our cycle pilots and passengers alike enjoy the physical and emotional wellbeing benefits. The joy of riding in the trishaw cab stimulates spirits to fly and stories to flow.”

But he stressed: “The main roadblock in the path of the scheme is cost. The trishaws cost nearly £7,000 a piece, which does sound absurdly expensive, but they are imported from Denmark and subject to high Danish tax rates.

“They are specially adapted to allow people with restricted mobility to get in and out safely and also have an electric assist motor so the pilots don’t have to be Musselburgh’s answer to Sir Chris Hoy.

“Our total currently stands at £2,285, which speaks volumes for the generosity of the people of Musselburgh, as well as the appetite to try and get this project up and running.

“We are exploring ways to allow local elderly people and other isolated members of the community to sign up for rides.”

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