The Ride to Better Health

The Big Red Ride brings accessible cycling to Banff

Big Red Ride by Barb Pelham

Big Red Ride by Barb Pelham

What is it?

The Big Red Ride is a fully adaptive, four-seat, piloted, electric-assist bike from Holland. Located in Banff, it’s used by a number of local community groups to improve the health of the town’s aging population, as well as anyone marginalized by illness, disease, depression or loneliness. Each seat has a seatbelt and one can swivel for easy loading from a wheelchair or walker. One trained volunteer acts as the bike’s driver and the other three riders can choose to pedal or use the electric-powered assist.

The Big Red Ride is a free program hosted by the Town of Banff and supported by Bow Valley Primary Care Network and Covenant Health rehabilitation team.

Why was it created?

Physiotherapist Annie Tredray, who calls Canmore home, brought the bike to Canada and created the program in Banff.  

“I created it to give the older adult population another opportunity to experience an adventure outdoors while socially connecting and also improving their physical and mental well-being,” Tredray says.

Who can ride?

The bike is available upon request for community seniors/adults in Banff. It hits Banff’s streets every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:30 p.m. from June 11 to Sept. 26 (weather dependent).

The bike is also available on a sign-out basis with trained volunteers for what Tredray refers to as “meaningful rides.” For example, in the past, a group of patients going through chemotherapy took the four-seater for a cruise. 

Benefits for people living with dementia?

According to Tredray, the Big Red Ride would be a wonderful experience for those living with early-onset or moderate dementia because it offers a safe way to connect with others, while also getting some exercise. 

“I think it’s a societal responsibility to keep the aging population, and those with dementia, as active as possible in a fun and unique way,” she says. [ ]