Mobility for Older Adults


Some segments of society face certain challenges to mobility that others in the general population do not. The number of older Americans will increase dramatically over the next few decades as baby boomers age and better health care and prevention continue to increase longevity. By 2029, there will be about 70 million citizens over the age of 65, almost double the current population. Many might find it increasingly difficult to drive as they get older; therefore, it is important to have other means of transportation available to this growing number of aging Americans. IMR studies the attitudes of older adults to understand the transportation barriers they face and to explore and educate them about existing and innovative transportation options.

Nissan Leaf Carsharing at Rossmoor Senior Adult Community


Researchers at IMR have teamed with Nissan in a four-year research effort to explore methods of improving older mobility. TSRC is investigating the feasibility of implementing a pilot carsharing program into the Rossmoor Senior Adult Community in Walnut Creek, California, using Nissan’s electric Leaf and ITS technology. The pilot project would station a number of Nissan Leafs in the Rossmoor community and train residents in the carsharing system and electric vehicles. The electric Leafs would be equipped with telematics instrumentation that would record vehicle performance, energy use, and travel patterns, which TSRC would use to evaluate the environmental and business performance.

Extending Safe Travel for Older People

Researchers at IMR have conducted two studies on safe auto and transit use for older travelers at the Rossmoor Retirement Center in Walnut Creek, California. Rossmoor is approximately two miles from downtown Walnut Creek and two and a half miles from the BART station. The complementary focus of each study (i.e., driving vs. transit use) led to synergistic insights that benefited both studies. The number of senior communities is on the rise in California and residents in these types of communities may have distinct travel patterns and needs.

Transit Barriers

Many older people have special travel needs which can limit their mobility. Some feel less comfortable behind the wheel or traveling alone, and some are forced to give up their driver’s licenses because of age-related disabilities. 

By 2010, the 65-74 age group will dramatically increase as the first baby boomers turn 65.  This rapid growth in the older population makes it critical to address the special needs of older travelers -- to prevent them from becoming isolated because of a lack of transportation options, and to prevent traffic accidents that might occur because of a decline in their driving abilities. Transportation options including public transit must be made available to older people.  And because this aging sector of society may be unfamiliar with transit, many people might need help learning about and transitioning to transit and other alternatives.