AGE Platform Europe moderated a workshop on accessible transport for older people on 13th October 2015 as part of the EU Open Days. The event, which was coordinated and hosted by the Liaison Agency Flanders-Europe, was is an initiative of Catalonia, City Region Arnhem Nijmegen, City of Eindhoven, Liverpool, Flanders, Southend on Sea Borough Council, Vidzeme Planning Region, with the support of AGE Platform Europe and Polis.
It was the opportunity to discuss how to unlock the social and economic potential of smart solutions for accessible transport for older people and to discover:
- The importance of cycling and walking for the vitality, physical and mental health, and mobility of older people
A study carried out in the city region of Arnhem Nijmegen shows the positive effect of physical activities (half an hour a day) to prevent cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.
As Prof Dr Maria Hopman, Full Professor Clinical Research/Patient centred interventions at Radboud University Nijmegen, pointed out during the workshop (Physical) « exercise is medicine » and we are « never too old to start ». Each opportunity to move should be taken, walk, avoid sitting too long, take stairs to develop muscle strength and a good balance, etc.
The three main ingredients that stimulate for exercising regularly: having fun in doing it – social contacts – having a goal.
For more information on this project, visit: https://www.radboudumc.nl/EN/Pages/default.aspx
- How government policy in Flanders is shifting towards the most cost-efficient demand-oriented transport model;
A Flemish mobility project started in 2014 is looking at developing a cost-efficient coordinated transport model which would combine regular public transportation and occasional customized mobility services for those who live in rear areas or are less mobile.
The current mobility landscape in Flanders is indeed highly fragmented and regionalized, with numerous voluntary and small actions from organisations, governments, communities and schools from local to federal level. Some citizens with a reduced mobility fall out of the system due to missing links and a lack of coordination or access, reducing their chances for social inclusion.
The project will finance customized transportation in complement to public transport, offering a service of adapted cars for a cheap price : 1 euros for 1 km, the rest being paid by the government. Flanders’ project also includes a Transport area council to provide advice on mobility
- How communities gain capacity and resilience by providing smart transport solutions for people diagnosed with dementia;
The presentation started by a real life testimony of Tommy Dunne who explained how dementia impacts on his daily life and the interactions with his different socialization circle. And indeed the Life Story Network CIC is a UK organisation aimed to build capacity and resilience of Liverpool’s city regions in addressing dementia. It provides input to the development of strategic policies at a national, regional and local level and help service users have their voices heard by building their skills and confidence to advocate for themselves and others. This supports the development of services that are tailored to people’s needs, including dementia friendly transport system. People with dementia are currently not encouraged to take public transport and measures need be taken to address this, such as training the transport police or drivers on dementia.
The significant cost of developing dementia-friendly environments is to be counterbalanced with the huge impact they have on individuals and the rising occurrence of dementia in our ageing societies. But whatever the infrastructure is, the training component is key to make sure it works properly and to enable people with dementia and their carers to really enjoy the public transport offer as a key element of their participation into society.
- The benefits for older people of training and of the benefits of providing smart bicycles for older people and people with disabilities
Together with 66 local governments and social partners, the Dutch region of Noord-Brabant, is coordinating a large campaign on road safety with a focus on vulnerable road users including older people.
The campaign seeks to encourage older people to stay mobile – in a safe way – and is based on the conviction that, the older people’s group being inhomogeneous, mobility policies need to be targeted to older people’s specificity. Achieving a change in behaviour among the older population requires a custom approach, according to the needs of the different types of older people (adapted tone of voice, communication tools, training, etc).
Programmes to train older people on how to use public transport, a bicycle, a scoot mobile and a car are organised to help influence their behavior.
Innovation is also at the core of the project with research currently being carried out by the research institute TNO in Helmond on a safe intelligent bicycle for older or disabled people which uses sensors informing the driver (through vibrations) when another driver is approaching.
More information on this campaign: https://www.nulverkeersdodenbrabant.nl
The workshop ended with a debate with the floor, namely on the lack of flexibility of custom transportation for people with disability and the importance of an inclusive ‘coproduction’ approach, which enables to build up solutions that effectively meet older people’s actual needs through the involvement of target groups.
Mrs Parent concluded by noting that making bus and bus stops accessible for all would save the cost of developing on-demand transport services, while meeting the rising demand of a rapidly ageing population.
The event was followed by a closed meeting with participating AGE Platform Europe experts in order to strengthen the dialogue between older people and local and regional authorities.