Enjoy, read, and please leave a review!
Aging in suburbia still seems to be about what’s inside the three car garage. If you do a search on “old people and car clubs” you will find stories on veterans’ motors club , the rolling antiques, and so forth…you get the picture.
That is about to change- both the search term and the concept. As people age in place, a car club and smart phone provide options. With a car share service, like Car2Go, travelers can access a car and take it in only one direction. Moreover, the cars “free-float” which means that they are not tied to a specific parking spot or location. This concept is likely to spread, but has been tested primarily, with a fleet of 1,200 cars, in Berlin, Germany.
As the New York Times headline noted, this is car sharing with fewer strings attached. And, it is car sharing for people who no longer need to fill up a three car garage. Perhaps elders will even sell their vehicle to the car sharing fleet or scheme a senior-friendly neighborhood services.
Imagine a population with the following characteristics:
- 74 percent own Smart Phones.
- There is no reliable bus service or metro.
- Up to 50 percent of the population is forbidden to drive.
This list might describe the outlook for Baby Boomers fifteen or twenty years hence, should they choose to age-in-place in the suburbs, and reach their eighties and nineties.
The population with these characteristics exists today and they are not Boomers. 74 % have Smart phones, they cannot access a bus or Metro, and they are forbidden to drive. These are women in Saudi Arabia. However, with their Smart Phones, Saudi women are accessing Uber like services in record numbers, and are said to be empowered by reliable cars, instead of having to depend on a chaotic and often nonexistent transport system.
Gray Homes|Green Cars.
For older people who loose their ability to be safe drivers, a future with SAV (shared autonomous vehicles) holds promise. The SAV or robot-car is a leapfrog technology. It jumps over the major problem, that the suburbs are so under-served by taxis and buses, as well as other types of public transportation.
Gray Homes|Green Cars has a chapter on what other alternatives might be, but the self driving car is high on the list. This short article in the Wall St. Journal quotes Brad Templeton, who says there are plans for testing this futuristic vehicle, perhaps in Mountain View, Ca or San Francisco, or Ann Arbor, Michigan. The further out, and farther away, the better.
Sometimes we forget to look beyond our own front doors- literally. Today, the Baby Boomers represent about one-third of the population in the U.S. There are many younger people in the U.S. , which should spell good news for the housing market recover. The problem is that many homes are dates- younger people will be living in the Digital Age- not the Age of Motoring.
That said, the US is a relatively young country (thanks to immigration) with a relatively young population.
The infographic is from:
“Dial A Ride” is clearly an anachronism. With a Smart Phone you don’t dial- you click numbers, or just speak into the microphone. So, the olde van business which served elderly transportation needs should change its name. Outmoding it, perhaps, will be a new business model. A San Francisco startup called Hitch (www.takehitch.com) uses GPS to match unrelated passengers who are going to proximate destinations. Instead of hiring a personal car, as you do with Uber or Lyft, the takehitch algorithm pairs the driver with you and two or three other likely passengers. It could be called a share-taxi. Although it is starting service for hipsters, there is no reason that the model could not work well for former hippies (the Baby Boomers). It seems like a better working model, and certainly a better name, than the clunky “Dial A Ride” van.
Aging in Place (from the National Association of Home Builders web):
“Homeowners want to stay in their homes for the duration. By instituting simple universal design techniques, professional Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists can insure that you live in your home comfortable, safely and independently for as long as you want.”
I like the NAHB site- don’t get me wrong. But really, has anyone thought out driving-in-place? Better put,driving-from-place? No matter how well you retrofit a home for aging, you can not change the simple facts of getter older and driving ability.