Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bicycling for an Aging America

From Mr. Lalloobhoy Battliwala

Two thoughts on bicycles and similar non-motorized transport options:

1. America is greying, and no telling when the grey would return to cities rather than in outer suburbs (or that suburbs with high grey densities would appear). The numbers for people aged 15-54 and 55+ for 1980 were 145 and 52 m; for 2011 are 172 and 91 m; for 2040 will be 190 and 149 m respectively. As % of total population, 57 and 21 in 1980; 53 and 28 in 2011; 46 and 36%.

If you take 15-40 as the bicycling age, 95, 106 and 98 m respectively.

Today's bicyclists (15-40) will be in the 45-70 age group then and 106 m strong in 2040.

An older population can also use bicycles and enjoy the health benefits. Keeping roads safe for them as well, not just the next younger generation, is an important consideration.

Besides, retirees may find gas cars much more expensive as their incomes decline and gas prices go up.

The 45-70 age cyclist group of the future will ride at lower speeds, and may well compete with the younger age for the cycle lanes and parking spaces. Since not all bicycling regulations can be age-separated, the best is to accommodate as much of both groups as possible in the planning and regulatory process.

2. For US locales, where distances are longer, a large market potential lies in electric and hybrid (pedal-battery) scooters and tricycles for the seniors. (Seniors would ride slower but may brake more often, hence a hybrid.)

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