Recruitment Update
EU Case Study Visits
Urban Design Audit
Cycling Life History Interviews
Cycling Mobility Observations
Cycling and Wellbeing Trial
Raleigh 'Motus'
Did you know?

cycle BOOM | Newsletter

Issue 1 | December 2014

Welcome to the first edition of the annual cycle BOOM Newsletter.

Here you will find information about what we have been busy doing since the start of the cycle BOOM study in October 2013 and throughout 2014.

cycle BOOM is all about understanding how the adoption, or continuation, of cycling can be supported in older age. This is particularly important as we are faced with the twin challenge of designing our towns and cities to support an ageing population and that also promote more sustainable ways of living. 

Supporting wider participation in cycling for everyday practical purposes and for leisure could help to promote health and wellbeing by providing a means of independent mobility and engagement with physical and social surroundings. Cycling can also help to create a more pleasant living environment less dominated by motor traffic.

This leads us on to highlighting the important issue of spatial justice. We know that older people in the UK participate less in cycling than in other Northern European countries such as Germany and Denmark and the Netherlands. Why is this? Is it because British older people are in someway different to their Northern European counterparts? Or is it perhaps because the landscape in those countries is more supportive for older cycling? And what does this mean in terms of promoting happier more fulfilled lives? These are perhaps the 'bigger' questions that, by the end of the study, cycle BOOM will be able to address. But for now we believe that people are being 'sold short' in terms of the challenges and possibilities for cycling outside of their front doors and that older (and younger) members of our society stand to lose the most.

So, in 2014 the cycle BOOM team has been busy engaging with people and finding out about the experiences of those ('rare species') who have continued to cycle in older age. We have also been talking to people who no longer cycle and inviting a selection of them to use an electric bicycle or a conventional pedal cycle over an eight week period in order to record their experiences.

Below you will find out how we have been doing this, details about field visits to two cities in Europe where older cycling is on the increase, as well details about the actions we have made and the events we have attended, and plan to attend, to put older cycling firmly on the agenda.

We'd like to thank all of those people who have taken part or shown an interest in our work. Please get in touch if you would like any further information, if would like to take part in the study in some way or another, or if you know of someone who would like to tell us about why they don't cycle!

Happy riding in 2015!

Dr. Tim Jones (Principal Investigator)

Click on the links to find more about our Objectives, Scope, Methods and Case Study areas.  Project Information Sheets [Oxford/Reading and Bristol/Cardiff] are also available to download from our website.

The first wave of data collection (2014) is complete and we are currently analysing data over winter and early spring.
Fig. 1: [From top left, clockwise] i) We developed a 'suite of materials' to inform and recruit our participants, ii) Our focus is four sites in the UK with very different 'cycling cultures', iii) We have been experimenting with sensor technologies to try to measure reactions and 'emotions' whilst cycling, iv) There are three potential 'participant pathways'.
Table 1: Recruitment Summary (as at 20 October 2014)
Recruitment... the story so far
The study focuses on 250 people [125 in Wave1 in 2014, and 125 in Wave2 in 2015] across a number of Work Packages. Despite a later than planned start (June 2014), progress with recruitment has exceeded expectation; Table 1 provides a summary.

Analysis of the applications highlights i) a higher proportion of female, older and retired people in the selected sample vis-à-vis those who applied to take part, ii) a high level of car and cycle access among applicants, and iii) a lower proportion of regular cyclists selected (see Table 2).
Table 2: Recruits - Personal Characteristics
A Call for 2015 Participants!
Selection of participants for Wave2 (2015) will commence in the New Year, and interest can still be registered via the contact page on the website.
cycle BOOM 'On Tour' in 2014
In April-June 2014, members of the cycle BOOM team undertook a series of ‘fact finding missions’ to Munich, Seville and Colombia to gather information, observe and document specific projects/sites that can help us address design of the built environment and technology to support older people’s cycling mobility and wellbeing in the UK.

Munich was selected because of the role that government leadership has played supporting urban cycling via interventions such as infrastructure planning and pro-cycling publicity campaigns. As the home of BMW, Munich also has a strong ‘car culture’ making it an 'atypical' cycling city; we were also interested in the focus the city administration has given to issues of ageing, including the use of bicycle training programmes specifically tailored towards the needs of older populations.

We visited Seville to learn how cycle use increased 10 fold from 2006-10 from a low base (5,000 journeys daily) to around 72,000 trips per day. This represents a ‘modal share’ shift from less than 1% (comparable to current cycling rates in Reading, one of our UK cycle BOOM case study cities) to around 6%. We also wanted to understand how urban planners and designers had delivered an extensive cycle network in a city that has the largest walled old town in Europe containing three UNESCO world heritage sites.
Fig. 2: Seville's segregated cycle lanes
Fig.3: Munich's cycle campaign
Fig. 2: Seville's segregated cycle lanes                                       Fig.3: Munich's cycle campaign
Some key findings from the EU Case Study visits are presented below:
  • In Munich, strong political leadership was identified as key in determining the level of support for cycling interventions. However, there were concerns that recent changes in the composition of the city government might see a reduced focus on cycling in future.
  • The role of peer-group advocates to promote cycling as a viable alternative to car use among the older population was singled out as particularly important in reaching this demographic.
  • In Seville, political leadership coupled with more grass-roots / community action was seen as critical in establishing cycling as a viable mode of transport for city residents.  Concerns that political changes and on-going budgetary restrictions could see a reduced focus on cycling were highlighted.
  • There are plans to extend an integrated multi-modal transport network across the Andalucian region to join up cities/towns such as Seville and Cordoba, who have implemented their own urban cycling strategies, suggesting that cycling remains a focus for government action at the regional scale.
In collaboration with Film Oxford, a short (teaser) documentary film has been produced. The Team are currently reviewing media footage from the trips to produce a longer EU case study documentary - watch out for the main film in the New Year!
Urban Design Audit Tool
Members of the cycle BOOM team at the University of Reading are working with Reading Borough Council to design, develop, and conduct a comprehensive urban design audit specific to cycling.  This will result in a bespoke audit tool and published design guide for policy makers and practitioners. In doing so, the work will identify the attributes, features and principles that influence, or contribute to, quality urban environments for cyclists; and identify how these environments can be achieved both retrospectively and through future development initiatives. 

It is planned to test and validate the audit tool within the cycle BOOM project (in 2015), by auditing routes in Reading and Cardiff.
Cycling Life History Interview
This involves participants completing a 'Life History Grid' to establish where they have lived; family circumstances; places of education and work; methods of transport; hobbies/leisure activities; and when they have cycled in their life. This is then used at a follow-up interview to explore the role that cycling has (or has not) played in their life and how their cycling behaviour has changed across their lifetime.

Cycle Ride Observation and Interview
Following the Life History Interview a date is arranged to observe the participant taking part in a cycle ride. For Cardiff and Reading, this follows a pre-planned ('way-marked') route.  For Oxford and Bristol, participants take the researchers on a route of their choice (a 'naturalistic' approach).
A Participant's Journey....Part 1
Ramona found out about cycle BOOM when UWE researcher Heather Jones went along to speak at the Women’s Institute in Bristol. At the interview Ramona explained how she had returned to cycling in her 60s after an absence of a few decades. She used cycling as a way of cross-training for a marathon and had been inclined to return to cycling as she had positive memories of cycling as a child. Cycling was something Ramona shared with her husband, although they didn’t cycle much together as Ramona thought he liked to cycle faster and further. Heather and Ramona discussed how she was starting cycling again after a major illness last year and was now aiming to get back to being able to do a ten mile ride. Ramona liked to go out cycling early in the morning "7am we go out cos we’re early birds. Sunday is a must, if at any time it is busy I cycle on the pavements, this bit of Bristol is great for that".

Overall the cycling histories obtained so far demonstrate that cycling in later life can develop in different ways. Cycling can be initiated, curtailed, diminish, adapt and be restored. Later life transitions which have an impact on cycling are not limited to retirement but also involve changes in work location, pattern and status, residential relocations and changes in health status. These occasions can be accompanied by both positive and negative changes in cycling. Reduced, more flexible working and withdrawal from the workforce in later life gave some individuals more discretion about when and where to cycle, making it possible to avoid difficult cycling environments.

The meaning and purpose of later life cycling was variable. For some older adults cycling was a financial necessity and for others it helped build routine and exercise in to a post-working life. As well as for getting to work, bicycles were used for accessing volunteer work, shopping, visits, activities and community groups.
Some older cyclists recognised the temporal and spatial limits, in which they felt comfortable and safe cycling, were changing as they aged.
[Left to Right] Fig. 4: Ramona and her bike; Fig. 5: Ramona negotiating a junction on the ride.
A Participant's Journey....Part 2
Heather met Ramona at 7.00am on a bright and cold Saturday morning in late August to accompany her on a ride to the local shopping centre to buy a newspaper. The main motive for the ride was fitness. This naturalistic ride gave them the chance to talk afterwards about many aspects of Ramona’s regular ride. Participants have also been fitted with sensors to measure proximity of passing vehicles, EEG, route using GPS and soundscape (for analysis later in the project). 

Ramona lived on a 1990s estate which had many shared use pathways separate to the roadway. Describing being off the road she said "I can relax because I do get quite uptight if I’m actually on the road, its different if I’m on the pavement" however this meant that she had to cross many roundabouts. Ramona was restricted in her ability to turn and look over her right shoulder and this, coupled with a blind sport in her peripheral vision from her vari-focals meant Ramona was not confident in negotiating these crossings on the move. Instead she needed to come to a complete stop in order to twist her body and be confident of being able to see adequately. She found this difficult because although there were not large volumes of traffic early in the morning, vehicles were often traveling quite fast.
The naturalistic rides have been a mixture of trips made for work, volunteering, fitness and social reasons in a very wide range of contexts – from country lanes and riverside towpaths to city centre gyratory systems and the negotiation of subways under major roads. We’ve captured a huge amount of video, audio and other data that we are just starting to analyse.

Fig 6. Mobile ride traces a) Oxford; b) Bristol.
Our e-Bike | the Raleigh 'Motus' Low Step
On 16 December 2013, cycle BOOM's Nick Beale and Ben Spencer made the trip to Raleigh HQ in Nottingham to meet Raleigh’s Marketing Manager (Ben Hillsdon) and e-Bike Product Manager (Richard Dobney), to review and select the bikes for the wellbeing trials.

For 2014, Raleigh had joined forces with the Bosch ebike system to create the new 'Motus' bicycle.  This incorporated a second generation Bosch Active Line system for smoother acceleration whilst shifting gear, up to 190km range from Eco mode, with a low profile and quiet crank-based motor. Although not available for delivery until June 2014, the deal was done and 20 'Motus' bikes were procured.

For an independent review of the 'Motus' click here.
Fig 7: cycle BOOM visit Raleigh HQ | Nottingham [from L to R: Nick Beale, Ben Spencer, Ben Hillsdon, Richard Dobney]                                                                      
Fig 8: A chance to test ride the Raleigh 'Motus' at the cB e-bike demo day 17 June 2014 | Oxford Brookes Sports Centre
Does cycling make you happy?
Following a Life History Interview, participants selected for the 'Cycling and Wellbeing Trial' visit the University to complete wellbeing questionnaires and conduct a series of computerised cognitive tasks which assess memory, attention and speed of thinking.  They are then asked to cycle for at least half an hour, three times a week, before conducting the same tests after an eight week period (participants also receive free cycle training and a free bike check, from our partners Broken Spoke in Oxford and CTC Reading).

"Our research focuses on cognitive and emotional changes when people get older, and how these changes impact on well-being. A number of recent studies have shown that regular physical exercise is one of the key factors in maintaining, or even improving, thinking and reasoning in older age. Our team will be focusing on whether incorporating cycling into everyday chores, such as getting from home to work or the shops, may positively contribute to having good mental health in older age."
Dr Carien Van Reekum, University of Reading's Department of Psychology
A Participant's Journey....Part 3
So far 19 participants have started the wellbeing trial and 7 have completed the eight week course.  Early indications are that participants that have completed the trial exhibit improvement on the cognitive tests although the results from the control group are required to reflect on the significance and to rule out practice effects. 

As well as cycling for an eight week period (at least three time a week for 30 minutes each time), participants are also asked to record physical activity in a diary. This provides a rich account of their day-to-day cycling experience, and here are some quotes that illustrate what our participants have been getting up to:

"First week has been an enjoyable experience despite buffeting winds on most days and am looking forward to the next few weeks and hoping today's weather improves." 

"At start of project anticipated using non-powered bike at intervals to keep legs in trim but have found this will not be necessary as they get plenty of use even with the e-power."  

"The initial excitement of using an e-bike has passed, but the enjoyment of using it is still there - especially the rapid acceleration from standstill and getting it 'rolling fast' on good surfaces."

"The e-bike has encouraged me to do more cycling and although I didn't set out to achieve any distances, the 500 mile mark in sight and will achieve next week."
Cycling Delivery Plan (for England)
Ultimately, we want to advise policy makers and practitioners (e.g. planners, architects, engineers and designers) how our environment and technology can be designed to help people to continue to cycle in older age or to reconnect with cycling. 

We attended a Department for Transport (DfT) Roadshow on the Cycling Delivery Plan (for England), and subsequently submitted a formal response to the DfT Consultation.  The cycle BOOM project supports the DfT’s ambition to encourage more people, of all ages, gender, fitness levels and income in all parts of England to cycle. Given England’s ageing population and the fact that cycling accounts for only 1% of all journeys amongst people aged 65 and older in the UK, the project recommended to DfT that the Cycling Delivery Plan makes specific reference to older people’s cycling and the benefits it can provide.
Events | Presentations
The cycle BOOM Team has been very active in the first year of the project attending and presenting at national and international meetings / conferences.  Visit the website for further information and to download our presentations.
Future Events
  • IAGG-ER 8th Congress | 23-26 April 2015 | Dublin
  • Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting | 20-25 April 2015 | Chicago
  • Velo City 2015 | 2-5 June 2015 | Nantes
  • 52nd International Making Cities Liveable Conference | 29 June  - 3 July 2015 | Bristol
  • 1st AIBR International Conference | 7-10 July 2015 | Madrid
  • 14th International Conference on Travel Behaviour Research | 19-23 July 2015 | London
  • 1st International Conference on Transport & Health | 6-8 July | London
  • 44th Annual BSG Conference 2015 | 1-3 July 2015 | Newcastle
  • Royal Geographical Society with IBG 2015 | 2-4 Sept. 2015 | University of Exeter
  • Cycling and Society Annual Symposium | Sept. 2015
  • Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting | April 2016 | USA
  • 6th International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology | 2-5 August 2016 | Brisbane
Project Events
  • Design for wellbeing: Innovative research methods for understanding older people’s everyday mobility | Oxford Brookes University | 21 April 2015
  • Special session on ‘Design for Wellbeing: Ageing and Velo-mobility in the Built Environment’. RGS with IBG, Sept. 2016
  • Special session on ‘Researching with older people’. 7th ESRC Research Methods Festival, July 2016
  • Final Project Conferences | London & Leeds, Sept. 2016
International Longevity Centre UK and AgeUK
The International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK) is a leading independent think-tank on longevity and demographic change. It worked with AgeUK, older people and academics to draw up the Making our Communities Ready for Ageing report in July 2014. cycle BOOM contributed to a seminar on the theme of Getting out and about and we are pleased that increasing the number of cyclists across the lifecourse was a key recommendation in the final report and that ensuring 'that built environments and public spaces are designed to be safe, convenient, and enjoyable to walk and cycle in' was included as one of the ten key things every local authority should do to adapt to an ageing society.

The World Health Organisation has developed the Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) to quantify the benefits of walking and cycling in monetary terms.  cycle BOOM is working with the people responsible for HEAT to develop a case study of its use for calculating the financial impact of changes to the levels of cycling done by people 65 and over. This case study is being supported by the European Cyclist's Federation (ECF) and will be used in a webinar on 13th January 2015.
Did you know?
  • The average distance for cycle trip is 1.8 miles for those aged 70+ compared to 4.8 miles for 40-49 year olds.
  • Older men aged 60+ are more likely to cycle than older women (4.3% of men but only 1.9% of women).
Source: National Travel Survey 2008-2010

There is potential for many more older people to cycle:
  • 27% of 60-69 year olds in GB own a bicycle but when asked to record their travel during a specific week only 3% of 60-69 year olds reported making a bicycle trip.
Source: National Travel Survey 2008-2010
  • One third of all cycle kilometres travelled by those aged 65+ in the Netherlands is using e-bikes.
Source: KiM (2014). Mobiliteitsbeeld 2014. Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis.
  • 42% of those aged 60+ say they would cycle (more) if more dedicated cycle paths were available.
Source: DfT Climate Change and Transport Choices Segmentation Model project (2009-2010 data for England)
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