- Cycling is positively beneficial to heath, both mental and physical.
- Some bicycles have been specifically designed to enhance accessibility to cycling.
- Cycling Without Age is a movement designed to help people back into cycling despite limited mobility.
Aerobic exercise, including cycling, can deliver many health benefits both mental and physical. Cardiovascular health is improved by exercise through lowered blood pressure and heart rate which lowers the risk of heart disease, It can stop or slow the risk of diabetes, and help reduce the effects of stress and the risk of depression.
As well as cycling for its own sake, cycling as a means of active travel can help people increase their transport options and socialise, all in addition to the physical health benefits it provides, and yet, people with disabilities are less likely to be active than those without. So, cycling also has a role as a mobility aid.
According to a survey, up to 75% of cyclists with a disability find cycling easier than walking, with the same amount using their cycle as a mobility aid. This may be because cycling provides a non-weight-bearing form of exercise and can help balance, reduce joint strains and lessen breathing difficulties.
Using a bike as a mobility aid rather than an electric mobility scooter means that the physical activity is a beneficial part of the need to travel. As society ages, cycling could provide a way to help people maintain independent movement for longer. However, to facilitate this, planning strategies should take account the difficulties posed by infrastructure barriers such as speed bumps, kerbs and steps.
E-bikes can offer the benefits of cycling with the added support of a small motor to assist with pedalling, and for people who prefer the added stability of a three wheels, electric assist tricycles are available.
Double rider bikes mean that people can sit next to each other rather than the one behind the other set up of a traditional tandem which increases the beneficial social aspect of exercising with others as well as the physical. Double rider bikes can also come with the added support of an electric motor to take the strain when necessary.
Variously designed tricycles, transport bikes, scooterbikes, wheelchair bikes, tandems, double riders, and low step-through bikes all exist to enable people who use wheelchairs to access cycling.
In addition, Cycling without Age is a project which started in Copenhagen offering free rickshaw rides to nursing home residents. The project grew throughout Denmark and is now expanding even further afield.