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Transportation Use and Options of Midlife and Older Adults – 2010

Overview

In this 2010, national study of adults ages 50+, nearly nine in 10 reported that driving themselves is their most common form of transportation, only one in six (16%) said they get a ride from family or friends, one in nine (11%) said they walk, and one in eleven (9%) reported taking public transportation if they “need to get somewhere.” AARP commissioned this study to better understand awareness, use and attitudes about public transportation among older adults, their current driving behavior and limits on driving, their walking behavior, and their knowledge and use of specialized transportation options in their communities.

Key Points

This study by AARP confirmed what has long been known about American transportation preferences: we live in a car-centric culture. Almost all older adults noted that driving was their most common form of transportation, and more than four in ten respondents thought it was either “extremely” or “very important” to have a variety of other transportation options available to them.  

Other key findings:

  1. Most important community features that make streets comfortable for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists are adequate enforcement of speed limits, adequate street lighting, safe crosswalks at intersections and availability of sidewalks.
  2. While almost half of respondents noted that public transportation was available, almost half also said it was not easily accessible. In fact, more than eight in 10 respondents said they have not used public transportation in the last two months.
  3. About one-third of respondents stated that they walk at least once a week; however, more than half said they never walk in order to go places they frequent in their community.
  4. Features that would encourage respondents to walk more often were having places to go within walking distance, having places to sit down, and safer conditions.
  5. Seven in 10 respondents said they were not very familiar or at all familiar with the paratransit services available in their community.

How to Use

With the rise of an aging demographic, local planners and government officials will need to consider how to best serve this older population in terms of transportation, in order to increase the likelihood that they can age in place, yet still maintain mobility. The information provided in this study is a good starting point for better understanding the needs, awareness levels and opinions of the older adult population when making transportation-related planning decisions.

View full report: Transportation Use and Options of Midlife and Older Adults – 2010 (PDF – 301 KB)