Thursday, August 26, 2010

Consortium Organizations Find Transit to Be a Vital Link

Each day, news of the importance of transportation options for specific populations and the general public comes across my computer screen. Sometimes it feels like I am only writing about the contours and depth of the need. Today this started before I got to the office. Signs for one of the local bus systems notified riders of reduced frequency of service and route eliminations. Some of those riders this morning - most of whom appeared to be commuting to jobs - were using crutches or walking with great difficulty. Others had small children along. Then my computer screen gave me more news, some of it bad, but accompanied by possible solutions.

The Children's Health Fund (CHF) finds insufficient services for children in the Gulf Coast region during the five years since Hurricane Katrina. Among the points made in Legacy of Katrina: The Impact of a Flawed Recovery on Vulnerable Children of the Gulf Coast: A Five-Year Status Report, the reasons for continuing emotional and behavioral problems include lack of transportation to care and lack of childcare that would enable parents to take one child to an appointment.

Old and Young Share Mobility Challenges

On the other end of the lifespan, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) accesses the challenges that cities and counties confront as their populations age. N4A informs communities that transportation is among the critical services necessary for aging in place.

Like the majority of American adults, older Americans rely on private automobiles to meet their mobility needs. However, the physical limitations that come with age may over time restrict or eliminate an older person’s ability to drive. Many older adults who cannot drive can still live independently if they have access to available, adequate, affordable and accessible public transportation.

Recommendation: Communities should offer driving assessment and training to help older adults remain on the road as safely as possible for as long as possible. Communities should also consider improvements to roadway design such as large print road signs, grooved lane dividers, dedicated left turn lanes and extended walk times at pedestrian crosswalks to accommodate older drivers and pedestrians. Additionally, local governments should assess their existing public transportation systems to see if they address the needs of an aging population.

N4A also recommends that housing amenable to older adults be developed close to "transportation links," which would enable those who do not drive or who have cut back on driving to have transportation options.

Map to AAA and CIL Cooperation

The National Council on Independent Living
posted a report with suggestions for collaboration between centers for independent living (CILs) and area agencies on aging (AAAs) and the mechanics of the relevant federal statutes. Among the suggestions made were coordinating transportation, development of transportation service, and travel training for people who need mobility options.

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