Insecurity and Bad Health Makes People Stop Cycling

| April 7, 2015

Photo: Mikkel Østergaard

A project by the Danish Cyclists’ Federation and the DaneAge Association has studied the factors that make people aged 50+ stop cycling, and what can be done to make them start again.

By Annette Meng (Danish Cylists’ Federation) and DaneAge Association

What Makes People Aged 50+ Feel Secure in Traffic?
The project aims to promote cycling among people aged 50+. Thus, the first step was a national survey to identify barriers and potential among the target group. The 4.631 respondents were asked what is most important for them when choosing a route, and how secure they feel in different traffic environments.

Most respondents name high-speed trucks, busses, and cars as the factors that create the most insecurity in traffic. Winter, frost, and darkness also create insecurity among many respondents. Finally, they mention the lack of cycling paths. Choosing a cycling path with a curb creates more security than e.g. a bi-directional cycle path. Further, respondents feel very safe when intersections have traffic lights.

Route Preferences
Most respondents focus on good surfaces on cycling lanes and paths when choosing a route. Good lighting is another thing that many find important, which may be linked to the perceived sense of insecurity when it gets dark at night. However, it is not only security that affects people’s choice of route. The third-most important factor is quiet and green routes.

Differences between Men and Women in Traffic
Women tend to indicate a higher sense of insecurity in traffic than men. This can either be related to a greater sense of insecurity in traffic or a higher willingness to admit feeling insecure.

Women put more emphasis on good lighting, avoiding tunnels, and having other people around you along the route than men. In general, men focus more on insecurity in relation to the lack of cycling lanes/paths.

Barriers and Potential for Taking up Cycling Again
Most common reasons to stop cycling
• I had health problems
• I started to feel insecure in traffic

Factors that can contribute to get them to take up cycling again
• Improved health conditions including physical ability
• A secure traffic environment
• If I got an electrical bicycle

Bad health and a sense of insecurity in traffic are the main contributing factors that make people stop cycling. But these same factors could get people cycling again. It seems possible to actively overcome the health part for some respondents since around 38 % of the respondents think that an electrical bicycle would get them to cycle again.

Overall, the responses show that heavy vehicles and cars with high speed create insecurity. Prioritizing green areas as well as having an infrastructure which contributes with security and comfort, like cycling paths, traffic lights, and good surfaces, is important for the elderly people.

Category: Danish Cycling Know How, Research