Research@Reading Real Estate

CycleBOOM: Design for Lifelong Health & Wellbeing

CycleBOOM is a study to understand cycling among the older CycleboomLogopopulation and how this affects independence, health and wellbeing. The ultimate aim is 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.

This research project examines where older people (65+) fit within the current boom in British cycling. Cycling accounts for only 1 per cent of all journeys amongst people aged 65 and older in the UK, yet rates in other European countries are much higher. In the Netherlands 23 per cent of all journeys amongst the 65+ population are by bike, the rates are 15 per cent in Denmark and 9 per cent in Germany. Why is this?

Cycling can provide a means of engaging with the outdoor environment for recreation and relaxation, as well as a way of accomplishing everyday activities such as visiting friends or going to the shops. As such, it has a role to play in enhancing both physical and mental wellbeing. The UK is currently dealing with the challenges of an ageing population. While people are living longer, there is much that can be done to improve the quality of life into older age. This can generate significant healthcare savings and social benefits for all of us.

Some people adapt to changing physical circumstances and continue to cycle in older age, but for many people, cycling becomes more physically challenging. The risks (both real and perceived) associated with riding a bicycle in a less than supportive environment can force people to stop for fear of injury. Cycle promotion programmes across the UK, such as improvements to cycle paths, provision of cycle training and promotional events, together with the growth in availability of assistive technologies such as electric bicycles ('e-bikes'), could help to reserve this trend.

The project runs from October 2013 to September 2016 and involves researchers at Oxford Brookes University, Cardiff University, University of Reading and University of West of England (Bristol). The project involves an innovative mix of research methods, including 'mobile interviews' (ride-alongs with participants), 'life-history' interviews (exploring cycling activity over lives), and an 'urban design audit' (looking at the role of the built environment in preventing/facilitating cycling). The research also involves an extensive policy and research review, and visits to two European cities to gather best practice examples.

Participate in the study

We are now recruiting participants (cyclists and non-cyclists) in the 59-64 and 65+ age range in Bristol, Reading, Cardiff and Oxford. We will begin the first phase of fieldwork this summer. Initial results from the policy and research review will be available Autumn 2014. For further information about the project, please contact:
Dr Emma Street,, 0118 3787346.



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