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Portland, Ore. – Older Adults Bike Program

The Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) recently launched a new program to re-introduce older adults to bicycling. Many of the participants haven't ridden a bike in over 50 years. Wow! Smiles and good feelings abound.

[intro music]

Kirsty Hall: [00:10] This is a programme we just started running in the past week and it’s a new programme especially designed for senior citizens. Here we have five seniors who are going to be riding today with us from Elders in Action and we’re going to be riding around Mallament Park here in South West Portland.

Speaker: [00:26] This bike project to me is another example of how Portland cares for its seniors, or is starting to care for its seniors.

Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [00:35] Are you looking forward to riding today?

Speaker: [00:36] Yes I am, I’ve only done it once before and I hadn’t been on a bike since I was 15 years old. It’s a lot of fun.

Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [00:45] How long’s it been since you’ve ridden the bike?

Speaker: [00:50] A good 50 years. Loved to ride a bike when I was a kid and so now I think, you know, a bike would be great.

Kirsty Hall: [00:59] Initially we’re hoping the programme is just going to help seniors stay fit and healthy and active, and we’re partnering with Oregon Health and Sciences University. We have a PhD researcher there who’s looking into seniors and how they can retain function as they age. And so we’re going to be using some valuable survey work and feedback from this programme. But we do have another goal and that is also in the long run to hopefully have bikes at senior centres around Portland, and seniors can just hop on to a bike and hopefully if they need to go to pick up a prescription or if they’d like to run to a friend’s house nearby, just run some errands, get some exercise, they can also do that. So those are some longer term goals.

Speaker: [01:38] It gets me out of the house and also it’s good exercise.

Speaker: [01:41] And I had thought that maybe, you know, I could go to my condo down here, get a little older and I’m not standing on my feet, you know, to walk, I’d get my exercise this way.

Kirsty Hall: [01:53] A big concern is safety and perception of safety. A lot of seniors have told us that they feel very afraid of falling off a bike. And this is why we have these three wheeled tricycles here, they’re much more stable for seniors to ride, and that was a very conscious decision that the Office of Transportation took when we purchased these bikes.


Speaker: [02:23] I just like to do stuff that would improve the quality of senior life and for myself also of course. And I’ve always wanted one of these bikes.

Kirsty Hall: [02:35] They love it. Everybody was a little apprehensive when they turn up. You can see the fear in their faces sometimes cos they haven’t ridden in such a long time. As soon as they get on the bike and we get everything adjusted for them, they just take off and it’s like a duck to water, they’re just so happy to be riding again.


Kirsty Hall: [02:56] I hadn’t ridden a bike in three years and I remember when I hopped on again it just felt like… it was just… I felt like I was a child again and I definitely get that impression from the seniors that are riding on this programme. It makes them feel young again and it makes them feel healthy again.



Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • Clarissa

    Excellent! This is a great example of social justice in action--making bicycling available to folks who aren't the usual able-bodied, two-wheeled riders. Thanks, Portland, for giving us good example once again.

  • Trix

    What a great idea and what a great film! You just made my day.

  • Elizabeth

    good for you! what a wonderful program for older citizens. could you please tell me what the bikes are called and where they may be purchased? thanks :-)

  • Dee

    A delightful, well-done film. I'm so proud to be a Portlander!! Perfect example of a city that tries to include everyone in opportunities for keeping active.

  • jacquie phelan

    WOW cool site!! will be up shortly to see fr mself..
    Alice B. Toeclips

  • Dalem

    yes, so is it still happening? All the comments are from 3 and 4 years ago

  • Gale Capling

    A wonderful site, how did you get started? Where did the funding come from? Do you charge a rental fee?

  • Noreen

    Looks amazing! Imagine we could even take old empty stores and create warm safe indoor riding places as well!

  • Kelsey Carriere

    Fantastic Program! You must also see
    Ole Kassow's Ted Talk: Cycling Without Age!


  • Pingback: Portland encourages more senior citizens to ride bicycles - Fashion Sport - Climbing()

  • tracie sanchez

    Hello, anyone still involved in this program? Trying to do same in Decatur Georgia at Decatur Active Living and looking for lessons learned, model of trikes used, etc.