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Keep Moving! 

Professor Emeritus Allen Ballard on the adult trike that he uses to stay mobile and active. (Photo by Ivan Steen)  

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 13, 2018) – Professor Emeritus Allen Ballard has a message for aging seniors. It is also the title of his new book: Keep on Moving! An old fellow’s journey into the world of rollators, mobile scooters, recumbent trikes, adult trikes and electric bikes (Christopher Matthews Publishing).

The author will sign copies of the book on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza.

Ballard is a Collins Fellow and an expert on the Civil War. Until his retirement in 2016, he taught six courses a year in the Department of History. He is 87 and stopped driving in June 2016.

“I can’t drive anymore because of spinal stenosis, the result of which is that I have a numbness in my right foot that makes it impossible for said foot to feel the difference between a brake and an accelerator pedal,” he said.

Giving up driving was a bitter blow, and the book is about his search for another means of transportation in order to regain his independence.

“Neighbors helped out and the new car services were available, but I wanted something I could call my own – a means of going up to the local cleaners, pharmacy and coffee shops. So I plunged into a search for alternatives to keep me mobile and active,” he said. “That search led directly to the writing of this book, for I examined rollators, recumbent bikes and electric bikes all in an effort to substitute for the loss of my beloved car, my personal chariot.” A rollator is a rolling walker, with a wheel at the bottom of each leg.

Allen Ballard

Professor Emeritus Allen Ballard.

His search led him to a PFIFF Comfort Trike, a sturdy German-made trike that he uses today.
“I mainly use the trike on a now well-beaten pathway around my development. I drive it for about 45 minutes a day,” said Ballard.

Ballard grew up in Philadelphia, played football at Kenyon College, and earned a master’s degree in Soviet Union regional studies and a doctorate in government at Harvard. One of the first American tourists in the former Soviet Union, he lived with Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev for a month in the 1950s while still a graduate student.

Tackling a new challenge comes naturally. He took up the guitar in his 70s and performed a YouTube video of himself singing a French folksong. No stranger to exercise, he swam daily at the University pool when he was still teaching.

Ballard began the book in October 2017 and finished it in April. The end result blends his personal experience with a hands-on evaluation of various mobility devices.

While he doesn’t pretend to be an expert on all these devices, he hopes the book serves as a launching pad for others seeking to maintain their freedom.

The book includes a chapter on the newest phenomenon – the e-bike or pedal assist bike that “bodes to become as popular in the United States as it is in Europe, where, in Holland, for example, sales of e-bikes were over 50 percent of the total in 2015,” he said.

The book is recommended by a leading specialist on cycling and the health of seniors, Research Scientist Anne Lusk, Ph.D., at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “It is hard to get old, have a parent who is getting old or to serve those getting old, so read this book. Allen Ballard – who is 87, unable to drive, with one leg having its own ideas and missing now-gone friends – makes life better for all of us. He describes how to select the walker with Olympian assets, the adult trike that means freedom from the house… As only a retired professor can convey, he describes brakes, gears, crankshafts, seats and lights with more patience than the young bike-shop mechanic who has decided you clearly know nothing about bikes. Allen Ballard gives us a gift of happy years at the end.”

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