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Navigating the Baby Boomer Mobility Gap

Posted by Larry Ehl on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Transportation Issues Daily

Navigating the Baby Boomer Mobility Gap

Every seven seconds an American turns 65  By 2030 in the United States, about one in five persons will be over 65. The sheer numbers of “baby boomers” has demanded change in nearly every dimension of life, including transportation.

USDOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) is hosting a talk that will explore the issues involved in keeping an older nation safely on the move.  The presentation, “From Generation Gap to Mobility Gap: Preparing for New Transportation Policy Challenges in an Aging America” is Friday 9/23, 1-2pm (Eastern) is being webcast. The presenter is Joseph F. Coughlin, PhD, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From the RITA announcement:

“From side-walks, to roads, to transit to the first life-stage vehicles, such as the minivan, their lifestyles and mobility demands have shaped transportation policy at all levels of government. Now older they will need and expect more. The next generation of older Americans will introduce new mobility lifestyles and demands on the transportation system. They have more education, discretionary income, better health and greater expectations than previous generations to remain engaged and productive across the lifespan. The car, while becoming ‘smarter’ presents new unprecedented learning and dis-traction challenges for the older operator.

For many the confidence and capacity to drive may not be a lifelong choice. Transit options are available to many in urban areas, however, nearly 70 percent of adults 50 years old and older live in suburban or rural regions of the country where transportation alternatives are few. Transportation once provided by friends and family are now complicated by distance and family dynamics. Will the baby boomers go from generation gap to mobility gap? How might technology provide improved mobility without introducing new safety hazards? Will innovative transportation service models emerge to support the demands of older adults thereby introducing improvements for every-one? How are regional planning authorities anticipating and allocating resources for an aging America? Discussed for decades, an aging America is here – are we prepared to keep an older nation safely on the move?

DISCLAIMER: The views of the presenter do not reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Transportation.”

Larry Ehl is the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily. In the public sector, Larry was Federal Relations Manager for Washington State DOT; Chief of Staff to US Senator Slade Gorton; and was twice elected to the Edmonds School Board.

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