Keep peddaling safe and with pleasure until you are 100 (years old)
Most of the Dutch like to cycle. But growing older, it can be difficult to keep on doing this in a safe way. Our sight and hearing are diminishing, our body is more rigid and vulnerable, and our reactions are not that fast as they used to be. Besides, it is getting more difficult to handle multiple actions at once. How can we enjoy cycling in a safe way until we are 100 years old? Below, you can read what we do to ensure cycling safely at a higher age in the Amsterdam region.
Improving road safety is a must
The hectic city traffic, with great variety of vehicles, asks a lot of older cyclists. The number of road casualties among people of 60 years and older is increasing. Most of the time simple accidents where no other traffic is involved. That’s one of the conclusions of the research of SWOV.
Amsterdam is specifically working on the safety behaviour of older cyclists through the national project “Keep Pedalling”. In addition, the Relaxed Routes research mainly focuses on ‘senior proof’ infrastructure. For older cyclists a good quality of the infrastructure is of extra importance.
The project Keep pedalling
Fifteen municipalities, which are part of the Transport Authority Amsterdam, started the project ‘Keep pedalling’. They work with local partners like physiotherapists, bicycle repair centres and elderly organisations. The project offers ideas and tips to keep cycling (more) safely. They have for example ‘Cycle Fit Exercises’ that help elderly people to stay flexible on the bike.
The prove that these tips really make a difference comes when we speak to a man of 55 from Ouder-Amstel. “My hearing was really bad the last few years. So, I could not always hear overtaking traffic. That startled me. Now I have a rear-view mirror on my bike, and I can see what happens behind me. So, I feel much more confident when sitting on my bike!”
Obstacles such as high right-angled curbs, unclear road courses and dangerously placed bollards still pose extra risks for elderly cyclists. Even though it is ideal to make the entire bicycle network "senior proof", a lot of time, money and space will be required. So, what if we start with a number of routes and propagate them to the target group? Hence the idea behind Relaxed Routes. This will entail pleasant relaxed routes preferably along greenery, water, or urban beauty. For Amsterdam these ideas are worked out in detail.
Watch the movie about Relaxing Routes
Keep giving attention to the elderly cyclist?
It is important to keep giving attention to older bicyclists, their vital way of living and traffic participation. Not only by campaigns but by involving the network around the older bicyclists in the approach and message. Let people work on it by themself. Experience proves that gives the best results. If we also give attention to the older bicyclists in designing the infrastructure, we might prevent accidents in the future.
Is your city working on initiatives for older cyclists? Do you have good examples? Share your examples, thoughts and experiences via Disqus below