As an individual’s circumstances change, for example with a new job, a new relationship, or a new home, so too may their transportation patterns and their openness to cycling. People can move in and out of cycling, depending on how it fits or does not fit in their lives at that moment in time. While these individual factors fall outside the purview of a municipality, practitioners can work to ensure that the social context and built environment support life-long cycling and make it attractive under more circumstances. An awareness of typical exit points can help practitioners address specific barriers that prevent people from maintaining their cycling practice.
Those traveling with children can find themselves limited in the types of trips they feel comfortable making by bike. When accompanied by children, they may feel more cautious and avoid riding with children on streets, even those that have bicycle facilities. They are disproportionately marginalized by substandard infrastructure.
North Americans also tend to give up cycling as they age. In the United States, adults 70 years of age and older make only 0.4% of their daily trips by bike, and in the United Kingdom, only 0.9%. However, this same group makes 10% of their trips by bike in Denmark, 12% in Germany and Japan, and 23% in the Netherlands, demonstrating that cycling can remain a viable option for older adults (Garrard et al, publication pending). In fact, cycling offers low-impact, minimally weight-bearing exercise and independent mobility, both of which are beneficial to older adults’ health and well-being.
- Evaluate your existing cycling infrastructure and determine what proportion is safe and comfortable for riders of all ages and abilities (“Triple A” infrastructure). Create standards that clearly describe this type of facility, and evaluate future projects against them.
- Work with your local school board to support bike to school programs and cycling training in schools.
- Start a local bicycle club targeted to seniors or other under-represented groups through your parks and recreation department.
- Offer a loaning and mentorship program for older adults and new parents that allows them to trial different types of bicycles (e-bikes, cargo bikes, etc.) and connects them with other cyclists at a similar life stage.
- Vancouver has created transportation design guidelines with 10 general rules for designing All Ages and Abilities cycling routes. Their goal is to make cycling safe, convenient, comfortable and fun for everyone, including families with children, seniors, and new riders.
- In Calgary, the FLC Seniors Club, a non-profit organization, runs ‘Old Spokes Cycling’ and offers three levels of rides ranging from 10km to 40km.
- Three different programs in Vermont offer free e-bike or cargo bike loans for people interested in trying them out.
- Manitoba Public Insurance has partnered with the Seven Oaks School Division, Bike Winnipeg, Green Action Centre and WRENCH to offer annual cycling education to students grade 4 to 8. The program, called ‘BEST’ for Bicycles Education & Skills Training in Schools, trains teachers to deliver the sessions as part of their physical education and health classes.