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Take a bus? No thanks, say Port Coquitlam seniors who'd rather drive: report

Do you feel safe on roads, trails and sidewalks? Seniors are concerned about poor drivers, inattentive pedestrians and speeding cyclists.
Most older adults in Port Coquitlam want to keep driving their vehicle as long as they can.

Older Port Coquitlam adults won't give up their cars and would rather walk than take the bus, a new survey shows.

Nearly 700 residents aged 55 years or more responded to a mobility survey last year conducted by local community policing.

“The majority of seniors do prefer to drive and they want to continue to drive," said manager Candice Critchlow.

She said seniors prefer their "independence" and the "anonymity" of driving to places in their own vehicle.

In fact, 85 per cent, or 560 people, who answered the survey said cars were their favourite mode of transportation, followed by walking at 467 responses.

Speeding, pedestrians hard to see

Only 178 seniors said they take transit and 154 said they biked.

However, seniors don't always feel safe while driving.

In fact, many are primarily concerned about other people's driving, Critchlow said, telling the survey they wanted more enforcement of speeding and pedestrians to be more visible and alert at crosswalks.

"Older adults want to maintain their license and independence as much as possible, which we already knew, " said Critchlow, who said more needs to be done to make seniors feel safe on roads, trails and transit.

Not enough washrooms

Most seniors don't like taking SkyTrain and fewer than 10 per cent of those surveyed said they found the bus and SeaBus safe.

Coun. Glenn Pollock said a lack of washrooms at SkyTrain stations is one reason seniors don't take transit.

Coun. Nancy McCurrach commented that she saw many more public washrooms, including toilets for children, on a recent trip to New Zealand.

The survey recommended more public education for older adults on how to get and use a Compass card and how to use transit safely, such as texting transit police for non-emergency concerns at 87-77-77.

As well, there is a passenger silent alarm on SkyTrain and a speakerphone to talk to control operators.

Mayor Brad West, who chairs the Mayors Council on Regional Transportation, said he would bring up PoCo seniors' transit safety concerns to his colleagues and TransLink.

Cyclists causing concerns

Safety on trails was also raised as a concern, with some older residents concerned too many people on too many modes of transportation, including e-bikes, were causing them to fear for their safety.

Coun. Darrell Penner said he recently witnessed a cyclist in "spandex" nearly hit a child.

"I see this all the time and I’m extremely concerned,” said Penner.

“I think we are going to be at a point in time when something really terrible is gong to happen because of something like that....and it could be a senior that gets nailed.”

E-bikes going too fast

Coun. Paige Petriw said people on e-bikes are also travelling quickly and could pose a danger to pedestrians.

"I've had the same thing with people on e-bikes and it’s like crazy," she said.

"It’s like they’re a motorcycle going down and there’s kids and dogs and everything.”

Petriw said a mobility safety survey should be conducted for families with children under five.

Meanwhile, seniors' groups interested in having a session about safety on roads, transit and trails can contact the community policing station at [email protected].