Waning desire for cars and car-travel among Millennials has been the big story lately in the news and was the topic of a recent post on this blog.
But a similar phenomenon is also occurring among the aging Baby Boomers, though for different reasons. This AP article reports on the growing concern among experts that as Baby Boomers get older, fewer and fewer will be able to get around. Basically, a massive generation of Americans are going to be too old to drive. Yet at the same time, many of them live in cities that will essentially trap them.
Transportation usually tops the list of unmet needs in local aging-agency surveys, advocates say. Public transit routes and stops sometimes aren’t flexible enough; volunteer transportation networks are popping up in a few places but remain rare.
“How do we keep people involved in the community once they stop driving?” said Cindy Farson, executive director of the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging. “It’s one of those bottomless pits of need and demand. It’s going to take a lot of creative thinking.”
Like many communities, Provo is likely ill-equipped to serve its aging Baby Boomers. That means either their quality of life will significantly decrease as they drive less, or they’ll simply move to senior communities. Either way, that’s a loss for the city.
The solutions to this problem are neither mysterious nor unattainable. What’s more, they also appeal to both the old and the young alike.
Although the task looms large, communities that address these issues now could reap benefits that reach beyond the Boomer bubble. Creative planners like to envision neighborhoods that appeal to those who are young and old.
Young people actually have similar tastes to seniors when looking for a place to live, coveting walkable communities with easy access to shopping, entertainment and transit. And Boomers want affordable and accessible housing, transportation, recreation options and, when the time comes, in-home care and services to help them avoid nursing homes.