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Research project encourages older people to get cycling – University of Reading

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Research project encourages older people to get cycling

Release Date 09 September 2013

Cyclists in Reading may benefit

A new research project will examine how older people can be supported to maintain cycling into later life. Researchers at the University of Reading will be working with Reading's cyclists aged 55 and over, in a new partnership with Reading Borough Council.

Whilst cycling accounts for 23 per cent of all journeys for people aged 65 and older in the Netherlands, 15 per cent in Denmark and 9 per cent in Germany, it represents only 1 per cent of all journeys in the UK.

Reading is one of four areas in the UK that will benefit from a three year project using a mix of innovative methods to understand how older can be encouraged on to their bikes. The project, called ‘Promoting Independent Cycling for Enhancing Later Life Experience and Social Synergy through Design' (PrICELESS Design), will bring together universities, national charities, government departments and local authorities, to encourage more cycling in England and Wales.

Dr Emma Street, from the University of Reading's School of Real Estate and Planning, based at Henley Business School, is one of the project co-ordinators:

"The needs of older cyclists in the UK are poorly understood. We know that there are lots of factors, including changing levels of physical fitness, the quality of bicycling infrastructure including cycle lanes and the availability of appropriate bike technologies that affect whether people continue to cycle into later life. Our research aims to build a detailed picture of these factors, as well as exploring new innovations such as electric bikes which may play a role in extending cycling into older age."

Councillor Tony Page, Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport said the project would lead to significant benefits for residents:

"This new research project will enable us to better understand the needs of people considering cycling in later life and build on the work currently being undertaken as part of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund programme,

"We are already involved in a number of technological and cycle projects and look forward to combining the two to encourage people of all ages to take up cycling" he said.

The scheme is being funded from a share of a £1.2 million grant from three UK research councils. A number of recent studies have shown that regular physical exercise is one of the key factors in maintaining, or even improving, brain function in older age.

Dr Carien Van Reekum, from the University of Reading's Department of Psychology added:

"Our current 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."



For media enquires contact Pete Castle at the University of Reading press officer on +44 (0)118 378 7391.

Notes to editors :

As part of the project, Reading researchers are developing a public website which will host an interactive toolkit based on older peoples' views of how the built environment in Reading town centre and technology could be designed to support and promote cycling amongst current and future older generations.

Researchers are also aiming to produce videos to show specific design issues and provide evidence of how this could improve independent cycling mobility and health and wellbeing. They will also produce an interactive project website so that members of the public can have their say and contribute to the research.

About the School of Real Estate and Planning: Reading is home to the largest school in the UK for teaching and research in real estate and planning.  Established in 1968, it enjoys a worldwide reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. It is consistently ranked in the top three positions in all major league tables and the US-based Urban Land Institute ranks it as the leading real estate centre in Europe.

About the School of Psychology: Housed in state-of-the-art facilities, the Department of Psychology at the University of Reading has established itself as a leading centre for teaching and research. It has internationally recognised experts working in a diverse range of areas including clinical, developmental, health, cognitive and social psychology and neuroscience.

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