AENEAS concludes with conference on ‘Green Mobility for Active Ageing’
The final AENEAS conference took place at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels on April 8, 2011. Representatives from the European Parliament, Directorates General of the European Commission, Committee of the Regions and European networks, as well as NGO members and the AENEAS partners, gathered to reflect on three years of AENEAS activity and its impact on mobility for older people.
MEP Eva Lichtenberger pointed out that ageing ‘baby boomers’ have become more car-dependent, while AENEAS Coordinator Siegfried Rupprecht stressed that sustainable urban mobility and greater activity among elderly citizens should not be considered separately. It was generally agreed that multimodal, active, safe mobility is crucial in order to ensure that citizens well advanced in years can nonetheless participate in society, and that those who remain active can, on average, enjoy 15 years more of independent living than those who are inactive.
The morning panel discussion showed that AENEAS activities will grow even more relevant in the future as European societies become older, more diverse – and more motorised. Odón Elorza, Lord Mayor of Donostia-San Sebastián, claimed that cities need to develop an understanding of older people’s needs and expectations, as mobility and participation in society are closely linked. This requires close communication and cooperation with the target group.
One of the session’s special highlights was a presentation from Gunda Krauss, a 72-year-old with a bad hip who managed to travel more than 1,000 kilometres from Munich to the Baltic Sea on her pedelec tricycle.
In the afternoon session, representatives from AENEAS partner cities shared practical experiences, emphasising the need to develop the skills of older people to use all modes of transport safely and confidently. As Gunter Mackinger, director of the Salzburg Public Transportation Company stated, there needs to be a shift from purely ‘hard’ measures towards including and integrating mobility management and ‘soft’ measures as well, particularly in cities where there are already high-standard vehicles and infrastructure. Mackinger added that his experience with the AENEAS project brought a complete change of perspective, and that he would now argue for a budget split of 25% for infrastructure and 75% for soft measures.
Author: Matthias Fiedler