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August 2, 2011 > Senior mobility

Senior mobility

By Simon Wong

A half-cent of every dollar spent in Alameda County is directed to funding for transportation capital projects and services for the benefit of County residents and visitors. This sales tax revenue, mandated by Measure B which voters approved in 2000 and took effect in April 2002, is administered by the Alameda County Transportation Commission, in accordance with the associated voter-approved Measure B 2000 Expenditure Plan.

Pathways to Positive Aging is a community action plan designed to improve seniors' quality of life in southern Alameda County. Mobility is important for all but especially so for elderly adults who wish to remain active and independent. The action plan identifies the need for training to use public transit; walking as a form of transportation and exercise, more same-day transportation options, door-to-door assisted transportation for frail seniors and people with disabilities, safe driving for seniors and preparation for "driving retirement."

The Tri-City Travel Training Program and the Walk This Way Program are the means by which some of these needs are met.

Travel Training, funded by a Measure B Paratransit Gap Grant, provides free workshops to teach older adults and those with disabilities in the Tri-City area how to use BART and AC transit services. There are classroom instruction and group, field outings to practice what has been taught.

The program includes outreach to those with limited English-language skills through interpreters from the Community Ambassadors Program for Seniors. The Transit Adventures Program was launched in April 2010 as an adjunct to the Travel Training Program.

"Some seniors were still a little anxious on completing the Travel Training Program," explained Shawn Fong, Paratransit Program Manager, City of Fremont, "They enjoyed the classroom setting and group travel and wanted continued support. Transit Adventures offers group social and recreational outings for additional first-hand experience to increase familiarity with bus and BART."

To date, there have been 29 workshops and 377 participants. Four workshops have been conducted in Mandarin, one in Farsi, another in Punjabi, one in Spanish and one in American Sign Language. There have also been 18 Transit Adventure Program outings. The most recent consisted of a group 20 seniors who travelled by BART from Fremont to Downtown Oakland where they boarded AC Transit for Jack London Square, then took a ferry to the San Francisco Ferry Building before using Muni to reach Nob Hill where they toured Grace Cathedral before riding the cable car to board BART back to Fremont.

More seniors are computer-literate and want to put their skills to good use. The Travel Training Program and Fremont Senior Center are considering use of the computer lab to teach how to plan an itinerary with online resources such as 511.org, Google maps, BART and AC Transit websites.

Pedestrian safety and infrastructure issues, such as location of bus stops and bus shelters/seating, assessment of crosswalk safety: better signage, striping, the need for curb cuts, etc. are an integral part of the Travel Training Program.

The two-year old Walk This Way Program is funded by Measure B Bicycle and Pedestrian Countywide Discretionary Funds. It promotes the benefits of walking and raises awareness of the relationship between physical activity and improved mobility among older adults; encourages walking as a method of transportation or a means of connecting with transit; increases awareness of pedestrian safety by assessing barriers in the environment and advocates for infrastructure improvements.

The free, sixteen-week program is open to adults in the Tri-City area and includes structured walking activities and games; health promotion education, including strength, flexibility and balance training, disease prevention and management and falls prevention; pedestrian safety education and advocacy.

To date there have been 14 Walk This Way sessions at senior and community centers, mobile home parks and apartment complexes. Approximately, 300 people have participated and enjoy improved fitness, a better quality diet, greater knowledge of transportation resources and raised their awareness of pedestrian and driving safety. Some have been able to dispense with their diabetes and blood pressure medications. Four new sessions scheduled for the start of August 2011.

After 16 weeks, some people wish to continue, so five alumni walking groups have been formed in Fremont, Union City, Newark, one at the Tropics Mobile Home Park and another for the Afghan Elderly Association. These meet weekly and continue to walk locally. The Fremont Group recently toured the BART to Warm Springs extension project site for 90 minutes.

"We teach and encourage people to advocate for public transit in the community. This can be tough in the face of budget cuts but taking the bus means greater ridership and reduces the likelihood of routes being axed or changed. We try to keep participants informed of transit developments and how they, themselves, can keep abreast of service changes," stated Fong.

"I'd like to thank the Alameda County Transportation Commission for its generous support of our mobility programs in the Tri-City area," she concluded.

For more information about the Alameda County Transportation Commission, visit www.alamedactc.org. For information about transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities in Alameda County, visit, www.accessalameda.org.

For more information about Paratransit, and the Tri-City Travel Training and the Walk This Way programs and registration, call Monica Gloria, City of Fremont, at (510) 574-2053 or email mgloria@ci.fremont.ca.us.

Walk This Way Sessions
Newark Senior Center
Tuesdays
August 2 - November 15, 2011
1:00 -2:30 p.m.
7401 Enterprise Drive, Newark

Union City Kennedy Center
Wednesdays
August 3 - November 16, 2011
9:30- a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
1333 Decoto Road, Union City

Fremont Senior Center
Thursdays
August 4 - November 17, 2011
9:30- a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
40086 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont

Centerville Presbyterian Church
Fridays
August 5 - November 18, 2011
9:30- a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
4360 Central Avenue, Fremont

Registration required.

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