In addition to all the other benefits of getting around without driving, cycling also provides you exercise, fresh air, and social interactions with other cyclists and pedestrians. Electric assist bikes, tricycles, cargo baskets, and other modifications to traditional bicycles can make cycling a snap for seniors.
The National Highway & Traffic Safety Administration offers seven tips for safe cycling on roads shared with motor vehicles.
Protect your head. Wear a helmet. In the unlikely event of an accident, helmets are your best bet in avoiding a traumatic brain injury.
Assure bicycle readiness. Ensure proper size and function of bicycle. Use a bicycle that fits you, and make sure it is always in proper working order.
Ride wisely. Learn and follow the rules of the road. Ride with (not against) traffic, use hand signals, and follow all road signs and signals.
Be predictable. Act like a driver of a vehicle. Don’t swerve in and out. Don’t be afraid to take up part of a lane! Studies have shown that passing drivers tend to leave you as much room as you leave between you and the curb or cars parked along the road to your right.
Be visible. See and be seen at all times. Wearing bright yellow vests and reflective gear can help prevent accidents. At night, it is imperative that you always use a bright, blinking white light on the front of your bike and a blinking red light in the back.
“Drive” with care. Share the road. Make eye contact with drivers, avoid cycling fast between lanes, and avoid cycling on the sidewalk, especially in busy pedestrian areas. Consider walking your bike in these areas. Pedestrians—especially seniors!—can be easily startled by an approaching cyclist at any speed, either head-on or from behind. On shared paths, use a bell to signal well ahead of time that you are approaching a pedestrian from behind.
Stay focused. Stay alert. Never use headphones, and watch for road hazards such as potholes, which can cause severe injury even at low speeds. Ice, snow, rain, and other weather conditions can also be hazardous and require extra attention.