Egbert Brasjen admits its incredible that he can still bicycle at his age.
But approaching a century on Planet Earth, Brasjen, 96, still likes to do 30 mile jaunts through though the country. Holland, of course.
Cycling is an important means of transportation in the Netherlands, especially for the elderly. It keeps them healthy and contributes to social inclusion.
— Dutch Cycling Embassy (@Cycling_Embassy) May 9, 2019
He’s one of the shining successes of a Dutch government program designed specifically to help people like him stay active and remain engaged in the community through bicycling. The program, called Cycle On, (or Doortrappen in Dutch), recently awarded him and several other near-centenarians its “Silver Pedal” award.
“I don’t think about it,” recently said in a video shared by the Dutch Cycling Embassy. “I just cycle. It is such a part of my life.” His advice is to have a low-entry bike (a low step-over frame) and to avoid the busy roads.
“Cycling is an important means of transportation in the Netherlands, especially for the elderly. It keeps them healthy and contributes to social inclusion,” the Dutch Cycling Embassy posted on Twitter.
The program uses specially trained community members to encourage older cyclists and help advise them on safe practices. In the town of Enshede, for example, the Doortrappen program recently held an event with a bicycle repairman aimed at elderly cyclists. In Amsterdam a bicycle tour for elderly cyclists was recently held.
The advice the program offers is practical — not scolding. Cycle On, for example, to use a mirror and wear a helmet, but notes that a helmet is not legally required. It also recommends checking to make sure its safe to bike if they’re starting a new medication.
The program also highlights successful examples and benefits older people enjoy. It is amazing how long people can cycle with the right encouragement and infrastructure. Like Brasjen, many of the “silver pedals” winners this year were in their mid-90s.
One woman tells the Minister of Infrastructure and Water, which runs the program: “Two years ago I cycled to work around 8 o’clock in the morning. On an overpass I saw an old man slowly cycling up the overpass. A bit surprised, I looked carefully and saw that it was my grandfather. He had taken his car away for maintenance and cycled a (non-electric!) bicycle from the garage to his daughter, who lives five miles away.”