By Charles Pekow — Why not encourage senior citizens to ride bicycles? The exercise can help them and it may be safer than driving autos, especially as they age and lose their driving skills may diminish. The Federal Government is taking some steps to encourage transportation safety for the older set – and the efforts will encourage bicycling and related safety to some extent.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to expand an electronic Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety (ChORUS). State governments and other planners would be able to access the database for information and ideas to cope with issues surrounding older bicyclists and other road users.
The Roadway Safety Foundation currently operates ChORUS (roadsforseniors.org) but NHTSA wants to hire a private sector organization to expand it and get more people to use it, including separate sections for policy professionals and families of drivers aged 60-80. The contractor also should work on getting the issue into the media, especially those targeted to seniors and drivers. See goo.gl/ut5vUN.
NHTSA is also looking at hiring a small business to develop a course called Older Driver Safety for Continuing Education Health Care Professionals. “While driving is the most common form of transportation for adults, driving is not always the safest option as adult’s progress through the aging process-not necessarily correlated to age, but correlated to multiple emotional, physical or cognitive factors,” NHTSA explains in a solicitation. Some might be better off biking to some destinations. And health care providers should help people decide how to get around, NHTSA asserts. Professionals who take the course should get credit for it. See goo.gl/K5XGfd.
Finally, NHTSA is currently considering bids for a contract to develop and distribute traffic safety banners – at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s own headquarters to remind its own employees – and other passersby – of matters such as bicycle safety.
Speaking of safety for seniors’ transportation, the University of California Berkeley SafeTREC came out with a report called Safe Routes for Older Adults, in which it suggests that policies could and should encourage seniors to bike and walk more than drive, especially with the population of seniors growing. See https://safetrec.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/srfoa_042518_final.pdf.