Last week, residents at a Wisconsin nursing home got a long-awaited taste of spring, perched in the front seat of a trishaw as a pilot pedaled them around the grounds.

Grace Lutheran Communities – River Pines purchased the three-wheeled, motor-assist trishaw last year but had to wait for the winter thaw before rounding up riders.

“They were pleasantly surprised by the experience,” administrator Jennifer Cohen told McKnight’s after the maiden voyage. “They can connect with the outdoors again, being outside and feeling the wind in their hair.”

Though some residents were apprehensive about climbing aboard, a crowd soon gathered. Passengers can board alone or with a friend, and the vehicle is accessible to “virtually anybody.” The community has 50 skilled nursing residents and a 40-bed short-term rehab unit.

“Folks who use a wheelchair, they may need some help getting in, but once they’re in, there are seat belts to keep them safe,” Cohen said.

Resident Mary Dominski told Eau Claire’s WQOW that she had a “wonderful” first ride.

“I was very impressed by it’s comfort, and the vision is great from all sides and up into the sky,” she said. “I thought it would be tunnel vision but it wasn’t. It’s really great.”

Cohen said Grace Lutheran covered the cost of the trishaw, typically priced at $14,000 to $15,000, with two grants: one from Wisconsin’s civil monetary penalty fund and the other from the local Park Family Foundation.

The community’s effort was inspired in part by Denmark’s Cycling Without Age movement, which promotes rickshaw riding as a way for seniors to enjoy their environment and connect with others. The ride’s close confines allow for easy conversation.

River Pines’ trishaw rides will be piloted at most times by volunteers, with staff providing training and scheduling support. The campus includes paved paths that make for ideal riding locations, Cohen said.