The bikes offer a transportation option for older people where other modes fall short.
Eillie Anzilotti writes about the role e-bikes could play as the number of older Americans increases in the coming decades. Many older people cannot drive, and transit, ride-sharing, and paratransit can have logistical limitations. The extra boost and easier riding on e-bikes make them an ideal transportation option for older adults as they traverse challenging terrains or distances they would not be able to tackle on regular bikes.
Biking provides both exercise and mobility for older riders, but the benefits extend even further. "A growing body of research actually suggests that biking could alleviate the symptoms of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as support overall health. E-bikes are a critical component of extending these benefits as they enable older people to ride longer and more regularly," writes Anzilotti.
But safety and infrastructure remain significant issues for older people using any type of bike. Currently, much urban design does not provide safe environments for older adults to cycle and walk, but lifting the barrier for them could have far-reaching effects, notes Anzilotti. "Ultimately, the benefits of a community that prioritizes mobility and access for the most vulnerable generation will radiate out to everyone."
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Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
City of Grand Forks, North Dakota
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
City of Birmingham, Alabama
City of Laramie, Wyoming
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.