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FHWA bicycle safety education resource center

Senior Cyclists

Americans are living longer and stronger. The number and percentage of people over the age of 55 continues to increase, particularly as the baby boomer generation matures. And more elder adults than ever before are participating in cycling.

Senior cyclists may be cycling for the first time in many years, so they will need to brush up on current laws and rules that relate to bicyclists and sharing the road. Some senior cyclists may simply be continuing a lifelong cycling habit. However, as they grow older, they may be confronted with some physical issues that require new solutions.

tools and skills
  learn about important safety information. more   learn the fundamentals of good bicycling. more   view an extensive list of resources on the web. more


Although senior cyclists may have decades of traffic experience under their belt, they may not be accustomed to the ways that bicycles function in traffic today. A short bicycle course or workshop can be helpful in bringing them up to speed.

tools and skills
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Tools and Skills

Bicycles are required to ride on the right, with traffic, not against it. This may be contrary to the way many seniors first learned to ride. Teach them that this is the current law and that they may be ticketed for riding against traffic.
Teach the senior cyclist about the various styles of bikes and which one will best suit their needs, and also how to select and purchase a properly fitting helmet. Explain the different ways of carrying cargo, and what lights and other accessories, such as a water bottle holder, they may need. Introduce them to other options, such as gloves and glasses, and how they may benefit from these accessories.
Compare cycling to driving a car. Remind the senior cyclist that as a bicyclist he or she is a vehicle operator and is therefore subject to the same laws as drivers of cars. By adhering to these rules, s/he will help the concept of sharing the road become more of a reality, and create a more inviting, less stressful atmosphere on the roads.
Teach senior cyclists to maintain a defensive riding attitude, even when the law and right-of-way are in their favor. Emphasize that they should anticipate what a driver MIGHT do- but should not take it for granted that he or she will actually do it. Senior cyclists should never underestimate the importance of good motorist/cyclist communication through hand signals and eye contact.
Just as they would when driving a car, senior cyclists should scan traffic regularly by looking around and behind them as they ride. Some senior adults discover that it become more difficult to turn their heads to scan as they grow older. If so, they should have a rearview or side mirror mounted to their bike, and learn to use it.
Senior cyclists should learn how to safely navigate your way through intersections and complex traffic situations. They should also be able to recognize and avoid road hazards.
Senior cyclists should explore the "science" of good route selection, and take advantage of bike lanes, bike routes, and multi-use paths. City bicycling maps, generally available at bike shops, are useful in finding such routes.
The senior cyclist should learn how to make him or herself conspicuous to others on the road.
Introduce senior cyclists to the health and environmental benefits of cycling.

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Senior Health and Safety Links

American Association for Retired Persons' sports page

National Institute on Aging's exercise tips for elder adults

Just for seniors, an all-health and fitness site

Link to even more senior-specific sites

Bike Basics

NHTSA's 10 Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety

Learn your ABCs: check out your bike before you take it out!

League of American Bicyclists' 10 Commandments of Cycling

Your Bicycle Helmet: A Correct Fit

Helmet Fit Tips

Finding your place on the road

Principles of Traffic

How to avoid Motorist Errors

How to Position Yourself on the Road

Turns and Lanes

How to Change Lanes on Your Bike

How to Avoid Getting "Doored"

Bike Lanes- What They Are and How They Work

Riding Right- On the Right

Riding in style

How to Ride Comfortably

Exercises for Cyclists

Eat Better, Cycle Better: Nutrition Tips

Smooth Moves

Climbing Hills on Your Bike

Going Downhill Fast

How to Shift and Change Gears

Caught in the Rain?: Here's how to ride:

Riders of the Storm: Staying safe in a thunderstorm

Riding Efficiently

Making Quick Turns on Your Bike

Stopping Suddenly on Your Bike

Dodging Rocks

Securing your bicycle--and your stuff

How to Park Your Bike

How to Secure Your Bike

How to Lock Your Bike

How to Carry Your Stuff

Bike Maintenance 101

General Mechanic Skills

Tools You Need to Use: What to Take on the Road

Under Pressure: Keeping Your Tires in Check

Why Tires Go Flat

How to Fix a Flat Tire

The Science of Stopping: Brake Basics

The Front Derailleur

The Drivetrain