Cycling Past 50: A Closer Look into the World of Older Cyclists

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Cycling Past 50: A Closer Look into the World of Older Cyclists


This document reports on 2,300 responses to a nationwide survey of older adults who cycle. The survey, open from February through September 2020, includes questions about a rider’s cycling history, current cycling habits, and falls. It includes a visual preference survey of various cycling facilities and an online journaling option for two rides subsequent to completing the survey (results of the online journals will be available in the summer 2021). Responses reflect the impact of COVID-19 on older adults’ cycling habits, the impact of aging on ability and agility, the impact of the built environment, types of bicycles, and opportunities to cycle with others. Responses were analyzed by gender and age. Questions such as cycling frequency and falls were compared to a modified version of Geller’s four types of cyclists. Key take-aways include: Many older adults will need to adapt to their changing cycling abilities with a different bicycle, a different expectation about their cycling experience, and local programs to encourage sustained cycling. A fair number of respondents learned to cycle as an adult which suggests that local programs can also encourage older adults to learn to ride and how to select a bicycle. Lower cycling rates may result from not having a bikeable or proper-fitting bicycle, or the money to fix or purchase a bike. Questions posed for further consideration include: Can education and outreach help reduce near misses? Can planning and engineering help reduce near misses, especially in areas where more older adults cycle? How can falls due to poor infrastructure or maintenance or the actions of others be reduced?


Carol has a breadth of knowledge and expertise in transportation planning and operations, which began in Alexandria, VA, where she served as a transit analyst before leading the City’s first Office of Transit Services. After several years working with a family design-build company and at a major university, Carol returned to the transportation industry with the Washington, DC region’s transit agency. There, she worked in operations and communications before focusing on pedestrian and bicyclists access to transit. Carol’s work with Toole Design from 2008 to 2020 focused on school- and community-based active transportation plans. She started dblTilde Collaborative in 2020, specializing in older adult mobility and wellness. She describes the motivation for this work this way: “At age 60, I began to consider what my professional and personal life would look like during the next 30+ years. Now in my late 60’s, I am working to improve mobility for people as they age.”

April 2021
Older adults



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