Bid to get older people cycling
Published on 06 September 2013 11:30 AM
New research is to investigate how older people can be encouraged and supported to cycle into their old age.
An academic from Oxford Brookes University will lead the three-year study, beginning in October, to address the current lack of over-65s who use a bicycle in the UK.
Cycling represents only 1% of all journeys for people in this age group on home soil, compared with 23% in the Netherlands, 15% in Denmark and 9% in Germany
Tim Jones, senior research fellow of the Department of Planning at Oxford Brookes, believes something needs to be done to raise participation nationwide.
The £1.4 million research project will investigate how the built environment and technology, including e-bikes, could be adapted to the needs of older people.
Cycling can help individuals retain their health, fitness and independence - and this is the message Mr Jones wants to get across, particularly to those in their retirement years.
'It is a common misconception that older people don't cycle or have no desire to do so,' he said. 'But having the option to ride a bicycle is a fantastic way of maintaining independence and community connections and in so doing potentially benefiting physical and mental health and wellbeing.
'The aim of this research is to better understand how built environment and technological design is shaping the willingness and ability of older people to cycle, their experiences of the built environment and ultimately how this affects wellbeing.'
Why don't more older people cycle?
People approaching later life (50-59) and those aged over 60 in Bristol, Oxford, Reading and Cardiff will be the subjects of the study. They will be interviewed about their cycling history, and observed as they make familiar journeys by bike.
In addition, there will also be a study of those given new electric bikes to measure whether their usage improves health and independence.
It is thought that the major barriers to cycling for older people are fear of injury and the physically demanding aspect of the activity - which could be overcome by improving infrastructure and developing assistive technology.
The results of the research will be used to create a short documentary video and toolkit for policymakers and practitioners advising on how built environment and technology can be designed to support and encourage cycling among current and future older generations.
Copyright Press Association 2013