Normalising cycling mobilities: an age-friendly approach to cycling in the Netherlands

Wilbert den Hoed, Helen Jarvis

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Cycling is promoted as a form of urban travel with well-established benefits to health, liveability and wellbeing. These benefits are known to be larger for older people, a growing segment of many populations. Yet, support for the normalisation of cycling mobilities for 'all ages' varies considerably. It is usual to contrast 'low-cycling' contexts, such as the UK, with 'high-cycling' areas, typically favouring 'highest-rate' paradigmatic urban centres. To challenge a too simplistic imitation and re-creation of engineering solutions elsewhere, we draw attention to diverse cycling habits and norms in an 'ordinary' high-cycling area (suburban Rotterdam), and observe how cycling is normalised throughout the lifecourse. Using mobile and biographical methods, we argue that a more nuanced appreciation of cycling normalisation is gained from viewing ageing and cycling relationally and biographically. This is because the habit-forming realm of normalisation functions through both conscious decisions and unconscious practice, bound up with life events and the external environment. The findings suggest that age-friendly city strategies and urban mobility policies should more closely consider locally constituted social and cultural processes, beyond providing infrastructure. This article thus provides an in-depth account of what it takes for planning and policy to normalise positive, empowering, and age-friendly qualities in everyday mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalApplied Mobilities
Early online date27 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jan 2021


  • cycling
  • mobility
  • ageing
  • active ageing
  • normalisation
  • mobile methods


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