Tech Students Develop E-Bike for Older Cyclists

Older adults likely know that staying active is one of the keys to aging well and being able to remain independent but often the fear of having an accident prevents seniors from participating in the activities they enjoy and that help keep them healthy.  Researchers from Virginia Tech may have one answer to this dilemma with a high-tech bicycle designed to protect older cyclists from possibly injury as a result of an accident and even call for help should they have a fall.

Dubbed Ride Rite, the prototype bike recently won first prize in the Stanford Center on Longevity’s Design Challenge.  Understanding that older adults might not see as well or be able to turn their necks as far, or as quickly, the bike will be equipped with blind-spot video monitors that alert the rider to possible dangers using a screen mounted on the handlebars. 

And that’s not all; the device would also work as a GPS with maps on the display to ensure older riders don’t become lost.   A gyroscope will detect if the rider falls off the bike and if they don’t get back up within a set time, 911 will be automatically called with the location of the cyclist.  With all this support, older adults will be able enjoy the benefits of cycling with greater confidence and safety.

Yes, seniors could stay active without all these gadgets by exercising indoors on a stationary bike or treadmill but research has shown that being outdoors in nature has many health benefits beyond increasing activity levels including lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and improving memory.  And biking with a group can provide important social interaction that helps prevent isolation, loneliness and depression in older age. 

The research team at Virginia Tech is currently exploring partnerships that will make Ride Rite available to the pubic.  Learn more at Virginia Tech’s online news site here.