Shergold, I., Parkhurst, G. and Musselwhite, C.
Rural car dependence: An emerging barrier to community activity for older people.
Transportation Planning and Technology, 35 (1).
Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03081060.2012.635417
Community activity is a key contributor to quality of life for many older people. It also plays a role in the wellbeing of the communities they live in. Mobility, though, is central to such activity, and thus a conceptual link is proposed between ‘mobility capital’ and wider community sustainability. In developed nations older people comprise a growing share of rural populations and thus are of increasing importance to rural community sustainability, yet their mobility can be problematic. The paper contends that mobility is further compromised by an increasing focus on the car as the rural transport solution. To explore this hypothesis, the community interactions of a sample of rural elders living in Southwest England and Wales is examined, drawing on a survey and semi-structured interviews. Key findings were the localised nature of most journeys and the wide range of transport modes used. Although car availability was important, it was not a panacea. Given the importance of community activities to individuals and their communities it is concluded that more emphasis should be placed in rural transport policy on facilitating short-range travel for social purposes, including walking, cycling and the use of mobility scooters.
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