As the District of Columbia is transformed into an Age-Friendly City, AARP DC is breaking down the eight domains of civic life that define age-friendliness. For two weeks we looked at Outdoor Space and now we turn to Transportation.
Transportation is the undercurrent to all of the other domains. Whether automobile, bus, or train, transportation is the thing that connects us to the community, services, and other parts of the city. District residents depend on transportation to enable the most basic of activities – seeing a doctor, getting groceries, traveling to work, and visiting friends.
In an Age-Friendly City, transportation is marked by two features – accessibility and affordability. It is important that transportation be available to and capable of accommodating persons of all abilities, since, as we age, our transportation needs change. For a new mother, it may become more difficult to bring a stroller on a bus. For a person with declining vision, Metrorail may become difficult to navigate. And for a person who is recovering from an injury, driving an automobile may be impossible. An Age-Friendly City finds solutions to ensure that all persons are able to move around freely.
Cost is another determinate of transportation. Incremental increases in fares and fees directly hit a person’s pocketbook, especially those on fixed or limited incomes. An Age-Friendly City should ask how rates are structured to encourage ridership, accommodate persons across the age spectrum, and create the strongest possible transportation to help persons live fully in their neighborhoods and in the city.
So, as the District becomes an Age-Friendly City, we need to examine closely the various modes of transportation that mark our city. We should consider how each mode is currently accessible and affordable for persons as they age, what tweaks need to be made, and how to begin to implement changes so that District residents can better move around the city.
What do you think would help make transportation more age-friendly in the District? Comment below or go to AARP DC’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/aarpdc).