'Trike-Shaws' helping Mueller senior citizens get around

It's fair to say Preston Tyree is a cycling fanatic. He's a bike advocate and very involved in the community. The 72-year-old isn't slowing down anytime soon. In fact he's helping senior citizens who need a lift...or just a pick-me-up.

"These are trike-shaws, rickshaws but a trike instead of a guy with 2 poles running around," Tyree said.

Tyree says the idea came from Copenhagen, a program called "Cycling Without Age."  He's been working since March to get the Austin chapter up and running. It's really kicking off now that it's getting cooler outside.  He says the "Wildflower Terrace" retirement community in the Mueller neighborhood has been very helpful.

"The management here said 'well we've got this room that's just filled with debris.  Why don't we clean it out and let you use it?'  And so we've got a locked room with power where we can recharge it, it's the perfect place for us," he said.

You read that right -- he said "recharge."  These "trike-shaws" are different from pedi-cabs. They have electric-assist and the "pilot" sits in the back.  Perfect for an afternoon spin around Mueller.

"With this we can get somebody to the grocery store for instance and get them back in a two-hour time slot without any trouble," he said.

One of Tyree's new passengers is Barbara Phillips.

"Just getting to know the neighborhood and introducing people to it because there's a lot of people what would like to go grocery shopping or just sight-see around because everything is changing around here," she said.

And as I found out midway through our trip, Phillips who is in her 80's...isn't always a passenger.  She has her own trike!  But it isn't electric-assist.

"No it's Barbara-powered," she said.

Tyree says some of his passengers don't get outside as much as Phillips.

"We've got one lady who lives in an electric wheelchair that comes out and rides with us and this is the only time she gets to get away from that wheelchair and it's just delightful to have her ride," Tyree said.

A ride around Mueller is the perfect opportunity for conversation. And Tyree says it's an important factor. 

"We want to keep them talking and one way to do that is to work with them, ask them questions like 'Casey where did you grow up?'  Or you know 'do you remember the first time you got on a bike?'" Tyree said. 

And if you can't tell, Tyree is having a blast.  He says he's learning a lot through the wisdom of his senior passengers.  And he' s just glad to give back.

"I'm going to be old sometime maybe somebody will take care of me," Tyree said.


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