DOZENS of old people in Oxfordshire will ride electric bicycles in a £1.4m study by Oxford Brookes University.

The three-year project will ask people from across the county to use ‘e-bikes’ over a three-month period early next year to assess how the bikes affect their health and independence.

It will also look into how improving cycle pathways could encourage older people to return to cycling or to stop them giving up.

Dr Tim Jones, senior research fellow at Oxford Brookes, said: “I think older people are neglected from studies about cycling.

“It is a common misconception that older people don’t cycle or have no desire to do so.

“But having the option to ride a bicycle is a fantastic way of maintaining independence and potentially benefiting physical and mental health.”

The university aims to sign up between 40 and 60 people for the e-bike trials, which will begin with a short training session at Oxford Brookes.

The candidates will then be able to use an e-bike – a Raleigh Leeds Tour model – for three months at home with an assessment of their well-being at the end.

Sixty other people – some regular cyclists and some not – will be interviewed about how they enjoy cycling.

About 50 per cent will then take part in mobile interviews while they are on their bikes.

Those taking part will wear video cameras on their heads to record what they are seeing on the routes and inform researchers about danger spots.

One keen cyclist who is considering being interviewed is Chris Brennan, 64, from Kidlington.

He said: “I’ve kept my fitness up well through regular cycling but what puts older people off is the busy roads.

“If there were safer routes then more people would probably cycle, so the project is a good thing.

Cycling is good exercise and it’s not harsh on joints.”

Mr Brennan also volunteers for SUSTRANS charity’s National Cycle Network by maintaining cycle paths in Kidlington.

The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in collaboration with Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, which will help shape future national policy on cycling in the UK.

s To take part in the research, email