Trippers in the Pays de Douarnenez



Offered for several years in the major cities of Europe, scooter rides are now also developed in less urban areas. The arrival of electrical assistance is working towards new services in rural municipalities. The association Ribin (Petites Chemins en Breton) was created in 2019, in Douarnenez, to offer a discovery of the territory by bicycle to new audiences, in particular the elderly or those with reduced mobility. Two axes guide the activities of the association: THE INTERGENERATIONAL AND THE “GOOD AGING” > A project to help the elderly, by offering bike rides in the open air and in complete safety. (EHPAD, single people…) > A project of openness and social cohesion, promoting encounters and intergenerational link between driver and passengers with values of mutual assistance and solidarity. “At Ribin, we also carry values of mutual aid and solidarity” TOURISM FOR ALL > A project for people with reduced mobility (vacationers and inhabitants), by offering an innovative and unusual means of transport in a sustainable development approach; > A territorial project promoting the local cultural and natural heritage > An original tourist service to discover the country of Douarnenez and its surroundings. “On the saddle of my bicycle, I like to tell my Douarnenez, through his story and his anecdotes”

Presentation of the project

From the outset, the realization of a diagnosis at the local level raised expectations on the part of the professionals of the specialized establishments of Douarnenez: EHPAD, center for functional rehabilitation, ESAT… Led by 2 founding members, Olivier Dussauze and Gaetan Calvar, both passionate about bikes, nature and Breton culture, the association now has about twenty members. The Ribin project developed over three years between 2020 and 2022 by radiating from the country of Douarnenez towards the West of Cornwall in South Finistère. There was no offer of scooter rides in the territory, either in retirement homes or in tourist offices. Gradually, thanks to LEADER aid and regional co-financing, the association acquired 3 scooters, a truck and a trailer to transport them to the various walking sites. After a year of testing in 2020, hampered by the health crisis, Ribin was able to offer services to retirement homes and tourist offices. Contracts are concluded with the establishments for a number of trips throughout the year with their residents. Tourist walks, for which there is a fee, provide other revenue contributing to the financial balance of the association. From 2021, with the support of LEADER, the association created a part-time coordinator position. She has developed a network of volunteer drivers to help seniors get out. Some of them, speaking Breton, can speak to the elderly in their mother tongue, creating privileged ties. It was also necessary to identify safe routes, suitable for scooters, from the various applicant establishments, in the coastal and most rural communes. Ribin offers one- or two-hour outings, on the seaside or in the countryside, on greenways, motorways, small roads for the discovery of landscapes and heritage, all year round, depending on the weather. Today, Ribin regularly works with about 20 EHPADs or retirement homes, as well as with about 10 homes for people with disabilities. The association also offers 16 guided tours in Cornwall, linked to the territory’s tourist offices. In 2022, this represented 270 trips for 510 people transported; figures increased by 50% in 2023. With 3 scooters and a truck to move them around, the range of services has really multiplied to meet the growing demand. After 3 years, the association and activity of scooter rides for people with reduced mobility became known in professional networks of the world of disability and the elderly. In addition, Ribin meets the need for mobility assistance for 2 dependent persons who regularly call on the association: shopping in town, going to the doctor… A relationship of trust has developed between the association’s volunteer drivers and these people. We would like to gradually develop this service in the future.

The emblematic character of the project

The Ribin project is part of the LEADER strategy in Cornwall to structure outdoor activities by developing services around cycling and offering a new offer in Cornwall. The creation of new activities related to soft mobility is part of local policies such as cycling schemes and mobility strategies. Ribin promotes a way of travel in step with the ecological transition. It is a cross-cutting project on the territory: the dual objective of the project, social and tourism, gives it an exemplary character and differentiates it from other initiatives led by associations such as “A Vélo Sans Age” which works in several regions of France and Europe or other transport providers established in certain cities. Passenger feedback is a source of satisfaction with the obvious pleasure expressed; cf Specialized Reception House of Quimper: Partnerships created with institutions for the elderly or disabled are remarkable: Ribin responds well to a request. Tourism offices confirm that Ribin’s proposals for people with travel difficulties are a real plus for the attractiveness of their territory. The experiment is also about finding an economic model that balances volunteerism with professionalism. The objective for the coming years is to consolidate the position of part-time coordinator-driver (0.5 FTEs), and to be able to pay drivers/facilitators for tourist trips. We are also developing new services to diversify the activity: activities, local celebrations, deliveries, taxis… The purchase of a fourth scooter would make it easier to respond to requests. Finally, the association is often contacted to advise on the construction of the project, with the idea of carrying out the same actions in other territories (Region of Pau, Angers…)


Olivier Dussauze et Gaëtan Calvar

CORNOUAILLE (Quimper Cornouaille Développement)