Older Tri-City residents concerned about transportation options once they give up their wheels, survey finds

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Older residents of the Tri-Cities are concerned about their transportation options as they age, according to a recent report.

The results of the Older Adult and Senior Community Mobility Survey was presented to Port Coquitlam council on April 4.

“Seniors are an incredibly important part of our community, and they have specific needs,” said Mayor Brad West, adding he’ll be taking the results to the TransLink Mayors’ Council, which he chairs.  


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“There’s work that needs to happen to make sure that seniors, and everyone, feel safe using public transit.”

A total of 694 people aged 55 years and older responded to the Spring 2022 survey. Around 85 percent of respondents were located in Port Coquitlam, with the remainder from other Tri-City areas.

The results show that many refrain from using multiple modes of transportation: 86 percent of respondents primarily drive to get around; only 27 percent use transit on a regular basis; 18 percent cycle around the community.

Approximately 85 percent said they avoided taking transit.

“Our older adults are not fond of using transit,” said Camille Oliveira, former officer of the New Westminster RCMP. She added many of the barriers related to digital literacy.

 “A lot of our older adults didn’t know how to get a compass card, didn’t know how to use it, didn’t know how to load it.”

She said that many seniors also don’t know how to access HandyDART buses.

Older adults are frequently walking around the community, with 71 percent reporting they travel as pedestrians, and 40 percent walk five to seven times per week.

Candice Critchlow, manager of community policing, said older residents are deciding not to drive in certain conditions, but are choosing to make trips by foot rather than take transit, bike or use services like Uber or taxis.

Many cited safety concerns with other modes of transportation, Critchlow said, noting respondents consistently requested more police enforcement and visible presence throughout communities.

And while 80 percent reported feeling safe walking during the daytime, nearly 42 percent felt unsafe on municipal trails and parks, and 37 percent felt unsafe on crosswalks.

Uneasy feelings stemmed from a fear of falling due to lighting issues, and multiple user types on pathways at once, while some seniors are using walking aids, according to Critchlow.

Coun. Steve Darling said numerous seniors have voiced concern over using cracked sidewalks due to their eyelight issues, which can become a trip hazard.

The survey found there was a general worry about transitioning away from driving. 

All drivers over the age of 80 need to complete a medical examination every two years to keep their driver’s licence.

Respondents said they want to keep their independence as long as possible, but many were unsure of other transportation methods after they give up their wheels. 

Critchlow said this desire is evident from the popularity of ICBC road assessment presentations, which advises how to keep their licences.

The survey also found knowledge gaps around community safety and crime prevention among respondents.

Approximately one-third of all Port Coquitlam residents are seniors, around 19,000. 

The city needs engagement strategies to alieviate seniors’ apprehensions around using other forms of transportation, according to the report.

Survey question on which transportation option older residents are using.

Some of these strategies should address perceived safety concerns and accommodate learning styles for seniors. 

Critchlow said continued education was key, and Oliveira added they are working with Transit Police to bring education campaigns to other communities.

Coun. Glenn Pollock agreed, stating their goal should be to ensure people are comfortable using transit when they lose the ability to drive. He added he was shocked to see how few cycled.

But the biggest concern he’s heard from seniors about using transit is the lack of washroom facilities.

Couns. Paige Petriw and Darrell Penner both voiced concern about the speed of bikes travelling on Port Coquitlam trails.

Petrw suggested tougher regulation may be in order, particularly around the use of E-bikes on trails.

“It’s like they are a motorcycle going down and there’s kids and dogs,” she said. “Is there anything that the community policing can do around enforcing cyclists safety?”

Critchlow said that because community police are volunteers, enforcement would need to be done by uniformed officers. She said education and awareness was the best way forward.

Penner said he was cycling recently and saw another cyclist travelling at dangerous speeds.

“This guy goes flying by me … doing at least 30k. Little spandex guys I call them,” Penner said. “There’s a little child sitting right there. And he just blasts by.

“I see this all the time and I’m extremely concerned … Something really terrible is going to happen because of something like that.”

The survey was conducted through a partnership between Port Coquitlam Community Policing, TransLink, Metro Vancouver Transit Police, ICBC, Douglas College’s Practicum Student Program, and the Coquitlam RCMP. It was funded through a $2,400 ICBC grant.

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