Before breakfast on Sunday 1st November we learnt that the new funding deal for Transport for London (TfL) did not include cuts or additional restrictions on older Londoners’ travel concessions (primarily the Older Persons’ Freedom Pass and the 60+ Oyster card). The previous 48-hours had been a time of anxious waiting.
“Each year, almost 4,000 people are killed or seriously injured on London’s streets, taking a devastating toll on the people involved, their families and communities across the capital. More worryingly still, people from more deprived areas, some ethnic minorities, disabled people, children and older people are disproportionately affected by road danger.”
One year ago, the Mayor, TfL and Metropolitan Police launched the Vision Zero Action Plan, a bold strategy to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from London’s roads. In this week’s blog we take a look at the action plan and see what’s next for Vision Zero.
“Despite its disproportionate size and subsidies from central government, London’s transport infrastructure and built environment can often feel hostile for older people, especially those experiencing disability or chronic illness. Older people need better information on the options and help available to them, transport staff need better training on how to accommodate an assist older people, and the wider public must better understand and accommodate the needs of older people.”
An accessible and affordable transport network is a vital feature of an Age-friendly City. Philip Corran, a researcher at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, discusses the difficulties older Londoners face with everyday travel focusing on how they overcome the obstacles they face and the impact these challenges have on their health and wellbeing.
“So what does this look like in practice? There isn’t one template for what makes a healthy street but common approaches now being taken across London include reducing traffic speeds, installing pedestrian crossings, widening pavements and, increasingly, closing residential streets to motor traffic. On larger roads and at dangerous junctions it also means segregating cyclists from traffic with protected lanes and facilities.”
Will Norman, Walking & Cycling Commissioner at the Greater London Authority explains how the Healthy Streets initiative will help make London safer for cyclists and pedestrians alike.
“ULEZ is the Mayor’s reaction to London’s worsening air quality, which can have especially damaging effects on the most vulnerable citizens, including older Londoners. Around half of emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) – these contribute to illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – and particulate matter (PM) come from transport. Such pollutants can worsen chronic illnesses and shorten life expectancy as well as damaging lung development in children.”
With all eyes focused on March 29th (or should that now be April 12th?!) it’s perhaps easy to forget another important deadline on the horizon – the arrival of ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone). Here’s a quick guide to the new regulations.
“The London local elections are rapidly approaching, with polling day set for Thursday May 3rd. Four years on from the last London borough elections, all London borough councillor seats are set to be decided, alongside Mayoral contests in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets.
As London continues to grow in size, the number of older Londoners is increasing too – a 2016 estimate revealed that over a million Londoners were aged 65+ and 140,000 of that total were over the age of 85. A socially and economically diverse demographic, older Londoners contribute massively to every borough of the capital, as paid workers, volunteers, carers, family members, community activists, and in a whole host of other ways. As the number of older Londoners continues to increase, so too will these vital contributions to city life.
However, there are also a large number of older Londoners who are experiencing poverty and inequality, just like London’s other demographics. Whilst poverty amongst older people had been falling, there has sadly been a recent increase in the number of people who have dipped below the poverty line in later life. London’s housing crisis continues to affect people of all ages, with a serious lack of affordable housing in many areas. Loneliness too is an intergenerational concern, yet isolation is a particular concern for the older generation. The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness has discovered that ‘more than 1 in 3 people aged 75 and over say that feelings of loneliness are out of their control.'”
Age UKs across London are proud to present “Make London’s Boroughs Age Friendly!” a manifesto for the upcoming London borough Council elections.
This week, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, released the draft edition of the London Plan, a strategic document that shapes how London will evolve and develop over the coming years. Once finalised, the London Plan will set a policy framework for local plans right across London, as well as forming the basis for all future planning decisions. The plan represents the Mayor’s vision for London over the next 25 years, with particular attention being paid to an estimated population of increase of 1.8 million, taking the capital to an approximate value of 10.5 million.
The document itself is five-hundred pages, so we won’t be able to discuss everything that is mentioned, but we’ve picked out some highlights for you!
“Part of the reasoning TfL presents is an acknowledgement that having more older people in London will lead to an increased need for the transport network to be accessible, and that it must be a priority to provide a good experience for public transport passengers. Quite a few of the policy proposals in the strategy mention that they are aimed to benefit older and disabled people. TfL also argues that major new developments like Crossrail 2 are needed to prevent existing transport services from being swamped by increased passenger numbers in future. Overall, the proposals give the impression that the future transport system will have to develop and improve radically, not just proceed through gradual tweaks.”
Transport has often been a top issue that older people have raised with Age UK London. Gordon Deuchars runs the rule over the Mayor’s new Transport Strategy.
London is one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Yet many transport services remain out of bounds for its older and disabled citizens. Physical barriers like flights of stairs, gaps and obstacles, combined with the way transport services are run, prevent many of us from getting out and about and living our lives. Transport for All (TfA) is an organisation of older and disabled people who are dedicated to changing this.
This Monday saw Transport for London (TfL) launch the trial of a new badge to help disabled passengers and those with hidden conditions, illnesses, and injuries to access a seat on public transport. Find out all about the trial here.