Aging in suburbia still seems to be about what’s inside the three car garage. If you do a search on “old people and car clubs” you will find stories on veterans’ motors club , the rolling antiques, and so forth…you get the picture.
That is about to change- both the search term and the concept. As people age in place, a car club and smart phone provide options. With a car share service, like Car2Go, travelers can access a car and take it in only one direction. Moreover, the cars “free-float” which means that they are not tied to a specific parking spot or location. This concept is likely to spread, but has been tested primarily, with a fleet of 1,200 cars, in Berlin, Germany.
As the New York Times headline noted, this is car sharing with fewer strings attached. And, it is car sharing for people who no longer need to fill up a three car garage. Perhaps elders will even sell their vehicle to the car sharing fleet or scheme a senior-friendly neighborhood services.
Car Sharing Grows With Fewer Strings Attached – NYTimes.com.
Imagine a population with the following characteristics:
- 74 percent own Smart Phones.
- There is no reliable bus service or metro.
- Up to 50 percent of the population is forbidden to drive.
This list might describe the outlook for Baby Boomers fifteen or twenty years hence, should they choose to age-in-place in the suburbs, and reach their eighties and nineties.
The population with these characteristics exists today and they are not Boomers. 74 % have Smart phones, they cannot access a bus or Metro, and they are forbidden to drive. These are women in Saudi Arabia. However, with their Smart Phones, Saudi women are accessing Uber like services in record numbers, and are said to be empowered by reliable cars, instead of having to depend on a chaotic and often nonexistent transport system.
Welcome to the world of app!
Ban on Women Drivers in Saudi Arabia Gives Taxi Apps a Boost – WSJ.
There is a reason that (the book) Houses of Boom is sometimes called:
Gray Homes|Green Cars.
For older people who loose their ability to be safe drivers, a future with SAV (shared autonomous vehicles) holds promise. The SAV or robot-car is a leapfrog technology. It jumps over the major problem, that the suburbs are so under-served by taxis and buses, as well as other types of public transportation.
Gray Homes|Green Cars has a chapter on what other alternatives might be, but the self driving car is high on the list. This short article in the Wall St. Journal quotes Brad Templeton, who says there are plans for testing this futuristic vehicle, perhaps in Mountain View, Ca or San Francisco, or Ann Arbor, Michigan. The further out, and farther away, the better.
Why Self-Driving Cars Will Change Retirement – WSJ – WSJ.
“7-11” convenience stores have always been favored for quick snacks, slurpies, and cigarettes. They have also been tested and used as “pick up” centers. The “pick up” centers are for packages and goods ordered online. Sometimes it is too costly to deliver things to someone’s door, because they live in a remote area. Sometimes it is not safe, because the package gets stolen from the doorstep. And, sometimes it is not just not feasible, because the package, say of fresh lobster or fresh flowers, spoils without refrigeration.
United Parcel Service is getting back into this “pick up” business. They plan to pre-arrange package drop-offs for their customers at dry cleaners, convenience stores, and pharmacies. Called “Access Point,” it is rolling out in urban areas for now, but would conceivably be extended to its 4,400 UPS stores nationwide.
This is good news, and not-so-good news for older people who will be aging in their suburban homes. On the one hand, the business of ordering online will only grow, and everything can come to them. On the other hand, not everything will come to the doorstep. For the time being this is an urban trend, not one reaching into the suburbs, with greater driving distances.