The Dutch and other Europeans may have no difficulty getting folks of all ages to bike. After all, street there are bike-friendly: segregated bike lanes, calmed traffic, dedicated signaling, and perhaps most important, a culture that gives cyclists parity with motorists. And often even more privileged accommodations on the public roads. We could do more, much more, so it’s good to see AARP on board with a recent mailer.Formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, AARP is the big gorilla of mature-folks advocacy. They’re big players in insurance too, marketing United Healthcare Medicare-Plus plans under the AARP label. So it’s heartening to see them so prominently place a picture of a mature cyclist on their recent mailer with the tagline, ‘Add a healthy habit this month.’
Well, it’s never too late to straddle a bike. Older folks have a unique set of concerns, as cyclist-author John Howard highlights in his comprehensive general guide for the mature cyclist,’ Mastering Cycling.’ (Read our review.) But older bones need not dissuade the would-be cyclist from taking to the road.
Consider how much more safe urban communities would be if we moved elderly motorists onto three-wheeled trikes, say. Or merely succeeded in moving some of today’s auto traffic in a city like Los Angeles to bikes. That could open up new opportunities for a city like Beverly Hills, which is tailor-made for local bike trips but where even hearty high-schoolers complain that our roads are too choked with vehicles to feel good about riding.
AARP is the leading policy advocacy organization for the over-50 set, so its imprimatur is important if we are to rethink cycling for fitness (‘add a healthy habit’) and general transportation too.
Incidentally, AARP’s name change came about a few years ago because it was keen to expand its reach and increase its political clout. (Because only emergency personnel retire at 50, it was time to re-brand and lose the ‘retired’ appeal. In the States, anyway, retirement is a thing of the past, and the retired folks constituency will thin over time.) The re-christened AARP organization can be a major proponent of mature cycling, so it is heartening to see them on board with a pro-bike monthly mailer. Now to reach some of the non-White, non-affluent older folks….