The Commission on Aging’s report from 2018 focuses on transportation issues around Clark County. The report was presented to the Clark County Council on Jan. 15 and is the commission’s sixth since its inception in 2012.
The commission estimates that 17,000 Clark County drivers 65 and older carry a drivers license, and, according to the report, many older adults travel by car simply because of the lack of public transportation in certain areas.
The report recommends a focus on better connections to public transit throughout the county through more sidewalks or other pedestrian pathways.
“Accessible and affordable public transit options offer older adults the opportunity to remain independent and active in their community,” the report reads, adding that traveling on a street designed for cars, whether it be by bike or walking, is nerve-wracking for people of all ages, more so for older residents who have physical or cognitive limitations.
Recommendations on exactly how to fix this issue are in the works and will include measurable goals for miles of sidewalk needed and where ADA ramps should be installed.
The report also suggests county staff “Utilize the priority sidewalk project list in the Clark County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and direct the county manager to assign staff to work with neighborhoods to coordinate sidewalk projects.”
The Reserve-A-Ride Transportation program run by The Human Services Council provides low-income, elderly, people with disabilities, and those unable to use public transit the ability to arrange rides. But due to limited funding, they can only meet the most urgent needs for life-sustaining medical appointments.
As a solution, the report suggests working towards adding more vehicles and volunteer drivers to the program. Furthermore, the use of taxis, Lyft, Uber, and non-profit providers could help with the high demand for elderly transportation services.
The commission plans to further discuss their findings and possible solutions at a transportation summit this week. They will be joined by C-TRAN, and the Regional Transportation Council for “Aging In Place Summit: Future Of Transportation” in Vancouver. The event will feature speeches from the Secretary of the Washington Department of Transportation, the Senior Strategic Policy Advisor with AARP’s Public Policy Institute and a panel of local experts.
This event is invite only, but The Reflector will be covering it for March’s Senior Section.