Virtual reality cycling is coming to Oxford

Cyclox and Oxford Brookes University are hosting a conference called ‘Like Riding a Bike’ on 7th September at the Oxford Brookes Headington Campus, all about how we can get people onto – or back onto – bikes. Something very new and special will be showcased – virtual reality cycling for wellbeing is a major theme of this conference.  Sir Muir Gray, Oxford’s own public health expert, and author of “Sod 70!”, wants to get one million older people cycling, and with Hugh Ward, will tell us that while half of those people won’t be able to get out on the road they can improve their wellbeing using static bikes in a virtual reality environment. 

Just imagine an elderly person in a care home, with difficulty walking. She can pedal a static recumbent bike wearing a virtual reality headset that allows her to visit Berlin where her son is currently working and to cycle with him around the city. She gets exercise, sees the world and increases her social and family contacts. Her world will be greatly enriched, with more exercise and more social contact, which will improve her physical, mental and social wellbeing.

And what about you? There will be a time when you aren’t able to visit the old haunts that you used to cycle to (though keeping cycling will put off that time considerably!).  Instead, get onto a static cycle in your own home, put your headset on, you will be able to get to visit those favourite places, and get some exercise at the same time. You will have to pedal harder when the route takes you up a hill and you can do this in the company of a friend as well.  You might want also to visit places that you haven’t ever visited – opening up travel opportunities that you would never have imagined being able to experience. 

Intrigued? Sir Muir Gray and Hugh Ward see the huge opportunities of virtual reality cycling. They will tell us all more about this ground-breaking initiative at the conference, and how machine learning technology is now sufficiently advanced to enable this to happen.  The potential to improve physical ability, prevent dementia, and reduce the need for social care is enormous.

We are also being joined by Maria Leijerstam, the first person to cycle to the South Pole, an inspirational adventurer and speaker who wants to see more people cycling and whose own journeys can be shared in this new virtual reality world!

This is just one element of this exciting conference, all about how we can get more people cycling.  

The Lord Mayor, Craig Simmons, and Anneliese Dodds, MP for East Oxford, will be launching the conference, and there will be lots of interactive workshops, the chance to try out e-bikes, adapted bikes and an ICE Trike (made by the company who made Maria Leijerstam’s Polar cycle).  And as if that isn’t enough, we are launching the Oxford Mini-Holland weekend with a cycle safari to Florence Park. 

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