Puyallup Herald

Puyallup spends $20K on pedal-cab bikes for seniors. Mayor predicts ‘many smiles’

City of Puyallup spends about $20,000 on two pedal cabs for senior citizens

Volunteers will learn how to operate the pedal cabs and give rides to seniors at the activity center a few times a month. The city bought two of the bikes.
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Volunteers will learn how to operate the pedal cabs and give rides to seniors at the activity center a few times a month. The city bought two of the bikes.

The city of Puyallup paid more than $19,000 for two pedal-cab bikes to provide senior citizens a chance to get outside and maybe grab a coffee.

“The many smiles these bikes will provide over the next decade are worth every penny,” Mayor John Palmer told The News Tribune.

Trained volunteers are expected to take up to two seniors at a time to get ice cream or lunch at a local restaurant or maybe to tour local trails, said Puyallup’s Park and Recreation director Sarah Harris.

The Triobike is a cab-style electric bike from Copenhagen. The front carriage sits two and has seatbelts and storage underneath the chair. A rain-resistant cover and a collapsible canopy shield passengers from wind.

A more rickshaw-style with the carriage behind the person doing the pedaling would have cost less than $5,000 each, but Palmer said he wanted the seniors in the front of the person pedaling so they’d have a clear view.

“The main goal is to get them out on the trails again and enjoying nature,” the mayor said.

The bikes will be used a handful of times a month, said Doug McCormick, manager of Puyallup’s senior center.

Puyallup was named one of the nation’s ten Age-Friendly communities by the AARP in 2016. With safe streets, sidewalks, accessible buildings, intergenerational activities,and inclusive housing options, the East Pierce County city is adding more senior-friendly amenities.

Seniors have said they want more convenient, reliable public transportation, according to the Puyallup senior survey, but affordable housing is Puyallup seniors’ priority. Nearly 60 percent of seniors said there was not a lack of transportation in Puyallup.

The main purpose of the new bikes is to provide recreational fun and a new way for seniors to explore Puyallup, Palmer said.

Puyallup’s seniors are curious about the new bikes, McCormick said.

“They are excited to be able to have a bit of fun on the trails,” he said. “They love it. They can’t wait until we go on rides.”

Vashon Island bought a similar bike two years ago, but the chief volunteer pilot, Steve Sussman, said dealing with insurance was an issue.

“For two years I wasn’t sure if it was worth it,” Sussman said. “There were not enough people using it, and the senior committee was saying the risk was too great.”

The Vashon Island center has seniors sign waivers before getting in the cab. Seniors can sign up at the senior center for a ride from a trained volunteer.

“The island is beautiful, but (the seniors) are confined,” Sussman said. “Now we can take them outside and stop for pastries, and we don’t have to go far.”

Waivers for pilots and seniors ensure the city against liability, said Trudi Bocott, an assistant at the Puyallup senior center. Puyallup also will perform a background check on the pilots to ensure riders’ safety.

The Puyallup Activity Center is looking for more volunteers. The bike is front-heavy and takes practice to steer, Palmer cautions.

The tri-shaws will be in the Washington State Fair’s Western Rodeo Parade at the end of August.

Josephine Peterson covers Pierce County and Puyallup for The News Tribune and The Puyallup Herald. She previously worked at The News Journal in Delaware as the crime reporter and interned at The Washington Post.