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UK behind the rest of the EU when encouraging older people to cycle

27th October 2016

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

We all know of the advantages of cycling, but how many of us actually take to the saddle to enjoy the free and healthy benefits that accompany the activity? According to a three-year study conducted by researchers at Oxford Brookes University, the UK is lagging behind in efforts to increase the number of older people participating in activity.

The group of 240 participants, who were residents of Oxford, Bristol, Reading and Cardiff, were a mixture of over-50s who were either current cyclists, non-cyclists or those looking to take up the activity again. 

The eight week trial, named Cycle Boom, found that cycling had a profoundly positive effect on the physical and mental health of the participants. However, the common features of cycling such as busy roads and traffic would get in the way of the participants enjoying some or most of their journey.

The project comes with the news that 23 per cent of all travel is done by bike by over 60’s in the Netherlands, followed by 15 per cent in Denmark and nine per cent in Germany. The UK comes in at just one per cent.

Cycling is a healthy and cost-effective form of transport, enabling people to consider the potential for home improvements, stairlift solutions and other ways to enjoy their retirement to the full.

Dr Tim Jones, Reader at the School of the Built Environment at Oxford Brookes University told road.cc: “Our research has demonstrated that older people who currently, or who have tried cycling recognise the positive benefits it can make to their health and wellbeing.

“However, they find infrastructure in the UK generally unsupportive of their needs, and the small minority that do cycle, who we classify as resilient riders’ use various coping strategies to deal with declining capabilities and road danger.

“This includes timing their rides to avoid peak periods, riding away from motor traffic, adapting cycles, and even riding on the pavement.”

The recommendations highlighted by the project were presented at conferences in London and Manchester, led by Dr Tim Jones, who outlined that “urban planners needed to take the needs of older people into account to encourage them to cycle.”