Cycling is convenient, healthy and enjoyable for all age groups including the elderly. But older cyclists are vulnerable. They stand out in the road safety statistics. The busy city traffic combined with high cycling intensities and a wide variety of vehicles on bike lanes, demands a lot from older cyclists. Can Relaxed Routes be a step towards a more senior-proof cycling network? This concept was developed together with elderly cyclists on behalf of the municipality of Amsterdam. Find out how Amsterdam works on good cycling for elderly cyclists.
Safety for elderly cyclists
The growing population of elderly cyclists in the Netherlands and in Amsterdam, requires extra attention. Cycling is healthy, convenient and a source of joy for the elderly. But older cyclists are also vulnerable and less agile. Amsterdam participates in the national project "Keep Pedalling" to improve safe cycling for the elderly. With activities and tips about safe cycling and senior proof bikes and gadgets.
The Relaxed Routes project focuses on the infrastructure in the city, together with older cyclists, who are the experts by experience. Good quality infrastructure is of extra importance for older cyclists. It must be "senior proof". That is to say: without obstacles such as dangerous posts, edges and bad road surfaces. Clear and manageable and with sufficient space.
Senior proof for cyclists
The ideal would be to make the entire bicycle network "senior proof". But that requires a lot of time and money. So, what if we start with a number of routes and propagate them to the target group? Hence the idea behind Relaxed Routes.
Pleasant relaxed routes, preferably along greenery, water or urban beauty, that are good in details. With safe curves, enough space and without dangerous obstacles. Together with the elderly, routes were explored where it is relaxing and pleasant to cycle.
A few notable results from the research
Even in a busy city like Amsterdam, there are routes which are more relaxed for cycling. These routes are not perfect, but they do offer opportunities. They can be made senior-proof with relatively minor adjustments. And Amsterdam intends to do just that.
A survey in the Relaxed Routes study showed the experiences of older cyclists. Cyclists reported difficulties, and even crashes with elements that are not "senior proof". Such as posts, difficult curves and bad road surfaces.There were also other notable outcomes. Older cyclists prefer bicycle paths, but in practice, bicycle paths lead to dissatisfaction as well, since they are too narrow and quite busy.
Another striking point: Senior proof requirements are implemented in the guidelines used by city, but the practice on-street still has room for improvement. There are still many places where right-angled edges, unclear road courses or dangerous bollards pose a risk to cyclists.
New designs are more in line with the senior proof requirements for safe cycling. These proposals consider allocating sufficient space for cyclists and making the design ‘forgiving’. In addition, Amsterdam is working in various projects to tackle risks for cyclists, and older cyclists in particular. Such as removing or improving unsafe bollards on bicycle routes and improvements on Relaxed Routes. The participation of cyclists, such as in Relaxed Routes, is helpful in these processes.
Is your city working on seniorproof design for cyclists? Do you have good examples? Are you an elderly cyclist yourself? How do you experience cycling in your city? Share your examples, thoughts and experiences via Disqus below!