Public transport, older people & linear parks
I’m one of a group of local people who have been invited to become trustees of the Knowle Park Community.
The parkland will be created and given to public ownership once proposals for new housing at West Cranleigh Nurseries is given approval, creating a beautiful open space with facilities for families and visitors to the village.
One feature of our plans, and the reason for writing this post, is a linear park connecting each of the three areas of the Knowle Park and West Cranleigh Nurseries site.
This linear park will have the advantage of linking a local retirement village with Cranleigh High Street, and opening up access to the Wey and Arun Canal.
Browsing through the various studies and surveys which land in my email inbox each day this morning, I thought about the proposals for the linear park at Knowle Park and also its connection to this retirement village when I saw a press release from two respected organisations.
The Future of Transport in an Ageing Society is a new report by think tank The International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) and charity Age-UK. It highlights the travel problems faced by millions of older people.
According to the report, one third of over 65s in England never use public transport. This is despite the availability of free bus travel.
The authors of the report found that approximately 35,000 people aged 65-84 in England have difficulty walking even a short distance, but are restricted to using public transport. This makes any journey difficult.
They also found that 1.45 million over 65s find it quite difficult or very difficult to travel to a hospital, whilst over 630,000 over 65s find it difficult or very difficult to travel to their GPs.
And it’s the oldest old, those who are in poor health and those living in rural areas who are let down the most by the current public transport system.
Considering the over 80s, less than 55% find it easy to travel to a hospital, a supermarket or a post office.
Only 20% of those living in rural areas use public transport each week, compared to 38% of those who live in an urban setting.
There are suggestions in the report for improvements to public transport for older people, with a call on the new Parliament to deliver more flexible transport services which better reflect the needs of older people.
The authors suggest advances in technology, including driverless cars, could further expand the range of transport options open to older people.
Access to transport is something we all need to consider in light of an ageing population.
Living for longer is positive for society, but it also presents some big challenges; public transport is one of these.