A lecture given at the 'Car Design for All' Conference
Institute of Mechanical Engineers - London 3/12/97
Population ageing and environmental concern are two important factors that will effect the design of vehicles in the future. In response to the potential conflict between them, the authors propose a shift in focus from individual vehicles to transport services, from 'A Car for All' to 'Mobility for All', and offer strategies, scenarios and case studies of how this might be achieved. New service and vehicle typologies are introduced and discussed, and an area of future research and development is identified.
Keywords-Transportation, Mobility, Service Design, Vehicle Design, Ageing, Disability.
The world is growing older. Europe, Japan, North America and other developed countries demonstrate this population ageing in its most extreme form, and there is compelling evidence of the same process taking place in less developed areas. This is a radical and unprecedented change in the age structure of modern societies that we are only beginning to come to terms with. It will change our perception of what disability is and who is disabled. Peter Laslett of Trinity College Cambridge has set out the background to this in his book 'A Fresh Map of Life: the Emergence of the Third Age'. He identifies this 'secular shift in ageing' as beginning in the UK some 150 years ago, and suggests that within 50 years it will be substantially complete with half the adult population aged 50 or over, and with considerable increases in the number of people aged 65+ and in particular those aged 80+.
Perhaps the most important desire of older people is to retain their independence for as long as possible, and independence and car ownership are closely linked. Mobility is a key factor in life-quality, in the sense of being able to make the many different types of journey that are necessary for older people. Meeting friends and visiting relations, shopping, recreational and educational activities, are all essential parts of an active life, and visits to doctors and hospital are likely to increase with age.
Clearly, if we hope to reduce pollution and increase the amenity and safety of our cities and countryside we need a better integrated transport system, a mix of public and private vehicles and services, that offers people choices and alternatives to car ownership. And we need technological developments and design improvements that make cars easier to use and safer to drive. With an increasing number of older people, it is important that their present and future mobility needs are met at the same time.