This May, the older adults of Alachua County were introduced to the Transit is Golden Safety Event. This event was developed by the Safe Mobility for Life Coalition and the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) to celebrate and showcase local public transportation options as a safe way for older Floridians to leave the keys behind and get on the bus.
On Monday, May 22, visitors of the ElderCare Senior Recreation Center gathered to discuss the mobility options and services available in Alachua County with each other and local representatives over coffee and pastries. In addition to the Safe Mobility for Life Coalition resources, a representative from the Division of Blind Services was on hand to share the importance of healthy eyesight to safe mobility and the Bike/Pedestrian Resource Center fitted several people with free bicycle helmets and tips to staying active and safe on the road without a car. MV Transit and the Center for Independent Living shared information on travel training and actively teaching people how to access their most convenient transportation options. RTS Gainesville gave everyone a great intorduction to riding the fixed route system in Gainesville, as well as the ease of use features offered to riders on safe and air conditioned city buses. Their website, www.go-rts.com is full of demonstration videos and helpful tips.
After presentations from our sponsors and a round of Q&A, 10 lucky attendees were treated to a group bus ride and FREE lunch at the Red Onion Neighborhood Grill, courtesy of FPTA. Boarding the number 8 bus was considerably easy since the bus stop was located directly across from the entrance to the Senior Recreation Center. We even enjoyed an impromptu demonstration on how to load a bike on to the bus thanks to a frequent user at the center. After a short ride in the air conditioned bus, we arrived at the Red Onion Grill where everyone enjoyed a special menu and a lively time sharing stories over food and iced tea. Lunchtime was leisurely and some people even managed to sneak in a tutorial on how to plan your trip and look for arriving buses on a smartphone from new friends at RTS Gainesville. Everyone navigated to the nearest bus stop for an easy ride back to Eldercare to wrap up the day, saying goodbye and sharing how much unexpected fun they’d had.
Transit is Golden Safety Events connect users directly with the experience of riding public transportation, sometimes for the very first time. Sharing transit options with older adults and showing them how to access them can be empowering to make proactive choices for their mobility futures. The Safe Mobility for Life Coalition is happy to work with FPTA and local transit agencies to promote safe and affordable transit choices to encourage people to find the benefits of leaving the car behind and letting someone else take care of the driving.