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Travel Patterns of the Elderly: The Role of Land Use

This report examines relationships between residential location and travel patterns of the elderly. Using the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, we describe travel patterns of the elderly and estimate models of trip making, daily travel and transit use. Travel tends to shift to the middle part of the day with age, and trip making declines after age 75. We find that land use and travel relationships are largely the same for the elderly as for the non-elderly, though there is some evidence that the oldest elderly are more sensitive to local accessibility.

Based on our findings, we consider the potential effectiveness of various land use strategies. Promoting more transit-friendly, mixed-use communities will increase local accessibility, but current preferences for automobile travel, low-density living environments, and the benefits of aging in place suggest that such strategies will play a limited role in addressing mobility problems of the elderly. Safer cars and transportation facilities, behavioral adjustments, and development of paratransit options more competitive with the private vehicle may be effective strategies for addressing mobility of the elderly.