Essay On Transportation
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The older age experience should be an encouraging one. However, whereas a small percentage of elder citizens enjoy the chance to learn new things and get more leisure time, the majority of them experience exclusion and isolation. A major transformation is needed in the delivery and planning of transport services and infrastructure so that the views of older people are taken into account. Most senior citizens wish to keep using public transport, but this need has often gone unrecognized. One way in which better services would be ensured is through bringing together transport engineering and public health specialists. Particular attention has to be focused on how the sensitivity of accessibility planning approaches can be improved (Ambrosino, 2007). This will not only ensure transport services are joined up, it will also be critical in guaranteeing better dialogue with senior citizens.
The wellbeing of elderly individuals largely hinges on their independence. For that independent living to be realized there is a need for a transport system that is effective, and one which will cater for all. Studies reveal that elderly people would prefer to keep using mainstream transport, but the current arrangements simply do not favor them. For older people, independence is even more critical than the intended destination. For instance, when they go shopping, they not only intend to seek services or purchase goods, they also want to interact with others. Therefore, transportation is more of an experience to them (Infeld, 2002).
The ability of senior citizens to be mobile is often affected by various psychological, social and environmental factors. Most of them have aired a wide range of concerns including; bus driver behavior, personal safety concerns, positioning of bus stops, as well as a lack of formal crossings. There is the need to question regulation structures with regards to this. For instance, the issue of punctuality continues to be a controversial one. Some bus drivers simply set-off even before all passengers are seated.
There is, therefore, need to communicate with community groups if these difficulties are to be overcome. This is what the Austin Community located in Chicago; IL has been performing so dedicatedly. Statistics indicates that there are in excess of 8.5 million elderly individuals in the U.S who struggle with transportation, both private and public. According to the Austin Community, most of the problems are low-cost, and with common sense solutions, they can be solved easily. Driving problems obviously come first with regards to this (Miller-Cribbs, 2005). Roadways and cars are designed for the average driver’s vision, agility and reflexes. As the Austin Community points out, senior citizens lose this ability eventually, and their transportation nightmare begins there. They struggle with the sign wordage size, brightness of lighted signals, as well as distance from hazard warnings. These struggles make roads less accommodating for them.
There is also the issue of distance to public transportation. This largely affects elderly non-drivers who have to walk unimaginable distances for their age to get to the public transportation system. One possible suggestion to address this is to ensure bus routes are included to elder care facilities. This is especially so in remote areas because public transport there might prove inaccessible. Senior citizens have to grapple with the issue of isolation, especially in their access to taxi services, and this another issue that has raised moral concerns. Elderly people themselves admit that inadequate ingress is a challenge that they have had to deal with (Ambrosino, 2007). Complaints have often been raised that some public transportation means like trains and buses have steps for entry that are inconveniently high. Extendible steps or “kneeling” buses can come in handy with regards to this. It would also be in the transportation stations best interest to present turnstile obstacles.
Timing is yet another concern. This is especially so for subway cars that have a door opening duration that is too brief for any senior citizen. Although this is a concern hat has been aired severally, little has been done to address it. Traffic signal timing has always been a problem because according to many elderly road users, the green light is too short-term for safe crossing to take place. Most municipalities currently lack the wheelchair ramp that would be helpful in accessing public transportation stations, public buildings and street crossings (Infeld, 2002). There is also need to harmonize the transportation hours that are preferred by mass transportation with that of elderly people. This will further ensure that heavy sidewalk traffic is avoided, a move that might greatly help the elderly population who wish to drive in crowded streets.
In the admission of elderly individuals themselves, they also struggle with issues that the general population can do little to help. One such issue is geography. This consequently translates to the inability to drive. Most elderly drivers frequently need to be assisted by other drivers because even low hills might stop them. To younger drivers, things like low hills are irrelevant, and this just underlines the difficulties faced by these drivers (Miller-Cribbs, 2005). This raises the question of rural and urban isolation, something that could eventually turn the older people into practical captives in their homes. Transport services, it must be admitted, are often dis-coordinated and fragmented, and drop-off and pick-up routes are often not coordinated. There continue to be numerous accessibility barriers and disorganized schedules, and this is not helping matters.
Another transportation difficulty is one which is largely self-imposed. Most elderly individuals view themselves as a burden to others. Naturally, most elderly people will realize that they are becoming a nuisance to other road users through their constant need for assistance. They start to view themselves as a burden, and if this perception is not corrected early, the result could be calamitous. There is, therefore, need to embrace them, and this could be achieved through civic groups, churches and even family support. Failure to handle this effectively could result in family conflict (Infeld, 2002). Although most elderly individuals will naturally limit transportation activities with time, their greater medical care will still force them to travel. Their complex schedules might consequently make some family members impatient.
In conclusion, although the community has been trying to address the transportation needs of the elderly, much remains to be done if these senior citizens are to be made independent and comfortable. It has become evident that automobiles and roads are not designed to favor the elderly population, and as such, viable alternate solutions should be sought for them. The need of taking part in social activities should not be taken away from anyone, especially since it has been proven to connect positively with health promotion.
Ambrosino, R. (2007). Social Work and Social Welfare: An Introduction. London: Cengage Learning.
Infeld, D. L. (2002). Disciplinary Approaches to Aging: Sociology of aging. New York: Taylor & Francis.
Miller-Cribbs, J. (2005). Understanding Social Problems, Policies, and Programs. South Carolina: Univ of South Carolina Press.