A NEW bespoke tricycle taxi service aimed at helping people with mobility issues get out more has been launched in the Somer Valley.

The Chat-e-Cycle service uses a specially adapted trike to help older people get around, while increasing their chances of social interaction, explains founder Kate Mattick..

The service is “stemmed from a masters project concept about active transport links for older people”. Users can sit beside a volunteer rider and cycle tandem-style to reach their destination.

Kate said: “The idea was that an older person who may have difficulty with their mobility or doesn’t get out as much as they used to can either cycle or sit and enjoy that social interaction along with the benefits of being outside”.

Kate is a physiotherapist who has seen older adults face similar challenges first-hand and wanted to make a change in the local community, where restricted rural bus routes already make transport difficult.

Van Raam specialises in accessible bike design and helped Kate get the project on the road. The tandem trike features electrical assistance and can be controlled by either one or two riders.

The riders have separate sets of gears so each person can put in as much or as little effort as they wish. The seat can be swivelled around for ease of access onto the trike and it has ample storage, complete with a basket for shopping and even features a walking stick holder. The bike has a seatbelt and lights for added safety.

Kate’s vision is to allow those with mobility issues to have access to the same active transport options as non-disabled individuals.

Chat-e-Cycle’s original concept was geared towards older people, though Kate says that any adult can use the service as long as they can sit independently in the bike seat without needing support.

The added: “One of the other key things this service brings is the social interaction.”

“I’ve been taking someone to a weekly appointment in Midsomer Norton and have done a few odd trips, but the idea is to build this up with volunteer support to offer more journeys, whether they be for GP appointments, visiting the shop, or just for a leisurely cycle along the Norton-Radstock Greenway.”

Kate also explained she is keen to get feedback from people who have used the service so far so that improvements or changes can be made to the service if and when necessary.

Chat-e-Cycle has received funds from The Active Way, provided by Bath and North East Somerset Council. Funding comes from the Willson Grant, a two-year fund to encourage walking, cycling and wheeling to support good mental health through the use of arts, culture or green events and activities. This has allowed Kate to renew her insurance and plan for the future to buy a trailer to transport the e-bike to further areas around the Somer Valley.

Kate is now on the lookout for volunteers to help deliver the service. Call: 07394 898911 or email: [email protected] and Instagram: @chatecycle