A pilot programme to encourage people with arthritis to make cycling part of their daily lives will be launched in Whanganui.

The Cycle Forward programme is being launched by Arthritis New Zealand and Whanganui District Council on Wednesday, February 20.

"We're absolutely thrilled to be coming to Whanganui to launch this programme, which is the first of its kind in New Zealand," Arthritis New Zealand chief executive Philip Kearney said.

"Guests at the launch will hear information about how cycling can have tremendous benefits for those with arthritis, and there will be the opportunity to view and ride the latest e-bikes."


The pilot programme, which involves eight sessions over six weeks, begins on March 13 with places for 10 participants. The programme will be evaluated in July and it is likely another 20 places will be added after that.

"We're keen to have people from different backgrounds and hope to attract a range of age groups as arthritis affects people of all ages," Arthritis New Zealand educator Lori Davis said.

"We will measure the progress of participants on the programme, gathering data on physical health, confidence and independence at the beginning of the six weeks and at the end of it."

Coaches will provide guidance and work with individuals according to their skill and confidence levels, Let's Go cycle skills co-ordinator Greg Fromont said.

The sessions are designed to provide a progression, moving participants from riding stationary cycles to riding in groups and on shared pathways and roads, Fromont said.

Whanganui District Council's active transport facilitator, Norman Gruebsch, said the programme aimed to give people with arthritis the confidence to take up cycling and build it into their everyday travel around town.

A social riding group will be established after the programme.

To register for the Cycle Forward pilot programme, email lori.davis@arthritis.org.nz or sign up at the launch at 5pm on Wednesday, February 20, at the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre, 31 Taupō Quay.


Bikes and helmets will be loaned to participants if required.