Your appointment with your doctor is at 10 a.m. at Kaiser Permanente on Sunset Boulevard near Little Armenia. You live about five and a half miles away on West Knoll Drive in West Hollywood. So you hop in your car at 9:30 a.m. and head east, with the Waze app on your cell phone assuring you that you’ll arrive on time.
But what if your eyesight is so bad you can’t drive a car? Will WeHo’s free CityLine get you to a place where you can connect with a Metro bus that goes down Sunset? How easy is it to get a Dial-a-Ride trip? Did you remember to renew your city subsidized taxi card? Exactly how do you map out the route for this trip?
Transportation is one of the eight elements of the “aging in place” strategic plan being developed by the City of West Hollywood. The plan is part of project called “Aging in Place / Aging in Community” that is being managed by Elizabeth Savage, director of the city’s Department of Human Services and Rent Stabilization. The goal is to develop a five-year plan to let WeHo residents remain in their own homes as they age rather than move to a senior center or assisted living facility. Currently 15% of the city’s residents are 65 or older and 51% of those over the age of 65 report having a disability.
Other elements, all identified by the World Health Organization as having an influence on the health and well being of older adults, are open space and buildings, respect and inclusion, housing, communications and information, civic participation and employment, health and community and community services and social participation. This article is the second in a series that describes each of the eight elements of the proposed aging in place strategy. The strategic plan continues to be reviewed by various city boards and commissions and other groups for feedback.
Currently West Hollywood offers a mix of transportation programs. For example, there is CityLine, a free minibus accessible by the disabled. Shuttles run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, arriving and departing at various stops every 30 minutes. Dial-A-Ride, in essence a free taxi service, offers curb-to-curb trips from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Trips to the doctor may be reserved up to two weeks in advance. The city also offers subsidized taxi payment cards to the disabled and those ages 62 and older. With a payment of $8 a month, a cardholder can cover $50 in taxi charges..
The city’s draft aging in place strategic plan notes that “public transportation is a leading strength within the city.” But it says West Hollywood “is also an area that benefits from continual improvement.”
There are two main priorities listed in the strategic plan. One is offering transit options for people with a range of abilities. The other is creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment:
TRANSIT OPTIONS FOR RANGE OF ABILITIES
Priority 1 Goals:
- Offer workshops and training about the city’s various travel services and other options.
- Consider offering a higher level of service including a “travel concierge” for trip planning and “bus buddies,” volunteers who help elderly and disabled people get on and off buses and other public transit vehicles.
- Provide personal support individually tailored for those who can’t get access to transit on their own.
- Expand existing efforts. For example, the city could schedule nighttime and weekend outings on the CityLine, or extend the service hours to provide earlier and later transit options.
Priority 2 Goals:
- Make crosswalks safer, an effort already underway in the city with plans for installing crosswalk stop lights synced with intersection lights and more prominent signage alerting drivers that they are approaching a crosswalk. The aging in place plan also suggests changes that will help older adults with hearing and vision problems. They would include increasing the length of the crossing time at intersections with traffic lights and adding audible signals at more crosswalks.
- Reduce bike traffic on sidewalks. Currently there are many streets in West Hollywood without bicycle lanes, and cyclists take to the sidewalks. One suggestion is more “sharrows,” or dedicated bicycle lanes on neighborhood streets.
- Make slopes on pedestrian pathways more visible and consider using electronic signs to indicate directions.
Tomorrow: Housing: An age-friendly community has housing suitable for older adults