Securing urban mobility of an ageing population

Aktive Mobilität im Alter fördern - Ein Aktionswochenende im Reallabor Ritterhude

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Physical activity plays an important role for healthy ageing. Total daily physical activity can be increased by walking and cycling for transport. Especially older people spend most of their spare time in their neighbourhood. There is compelling evidence that features of the built environment have a crucial impact on physical activity in terms of accessibility of green spaces and the option to use public urban space as well as on the provision of social infrastructure and local supply. The renewal and revitalization belongs to the most important spheres of activity of urban planning.Promotion of physical activity by urbanplanners may occur through plans that consider population density, diversity of land use, and street connectivity. Urban planning has further an important coordinating role for space related requirements. This is the starting-point of the AFOOT project.


The overall goal of the AFOOT projectis to initialise a strategic linkage of urban development and public health strategies as an intervention to support physical activity as part of mobility of older adults. AFOOT pursues an inter- and transdisciplinary approach. It focuses on existing planning processes and aims to motivate changes in planning policy and practice that will improve public health and equity on local level.

Results of the first funding period (2015-2018)

For this purpose, document analyses from the perspective of urban planning and public health were carried out. Additionally, interviews of public health authorities and environment agencies lead to a joint elaboration of indicators on the interface of public health and urban planning. Subsequently, role-playing games were performed to simulate the implementation of the theoretical results.

The final product of the project is a guide for intersectoral collaboration between municipal planning and building authorities and public health services. It supports small and medium-sized towns to design age-friendly environments which foster walking and cycling in older age.

The guide

  • raises awareness for an age-friendly local development
  • indicates entry points in the planning and health sectors
  • presents indicators for an analysis of the status-quo and the evaluation of interventions
  • introduces strategies for action for (1) open spaces and places, (2) walking and cycling infrastructure and (3) destination accessibility

The english version of the guide (published 2018) can be downloaded here.

Work packages of the second funding period (2018-2021)

Building on the results of the first three years of AFOOT, the goals of the second phase are

(1) to implement and evaluate the developed guide for intersectoral policy actions of urban planning and public health to promote active mobility of older people and to enrich the guide with a field-tested toolbox,

(2) to integrate the perspective of the rural population of the Metropolitan Region Bremen-Oldenburg by assessing key factors of the built and social environment in relation to active mobility habits of elderly people and

(3) to conduct an urban transition lab in Ritterhude, a municipality of 14.680 inhabitants in the Metropolitan Region Bremen-Oldenburg. The urban transition lab will create a local platform for a joint assessment and problem definition, the development of a local vision and agenda to promote cycling and walking among elderly residents, small-scale experiments (i.e. tests of possible measures) and continuous monitoring and evaluation. The process is steered by a “transition team” formed by scientists from public health and urban planning and a local employee in the municipal administration.

Research Team

- Public Health -

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Bolte, MPH (Head of project)

Tanja Brüchert, M. A. PH

University of Bremen, Institute of Public Health and Nursing Research

- Urban Planing -

Prof. Dr. Karsten Zimmermann

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sabine Baumgart

Paula Quentin, M. Sc.

TU Dortmund, Faculty of Spatial Planing

- Transition Lab -

Lena Oeltjen

Municipality of Ritterhude

Additional information

  • Conference poster 1
  • Conference poster 2