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Californian’s now facing a pair of wildfires; Also on the Tuesday rundown: Higher education in New Jersey: a racial split; plus food resources still available despite the “public charge” proposal.

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Transportation Report: Retired and Housebound in Indiana

June 15, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - In just a few years, a new report predicts, almost 80 percent of Indianapolis residents age 65 and older will live in neighborhoods with poor transportation options other than driving - the seventh-worst rate in the nation when comparing metropolitan areas,

The problem will be persistent statewide, according to the report issued by Transportation for America.

Transit options besides cars and trucks have been neglected for too long, says Irene Wegner, AARP Indiana's associate state director of community outreach, and seniors aren't the only ones at a disadvantage...

"Whether you walk, whether you're a pedestrian or a bicyclist; you have a disability or you're a mother with a toddler in a baby carriage, you can get across the street. You can access where you need to go."

Seniors are the age group least likely to drive, the report notes, whether because of physical or financial limitations. It recommends more investments in public transportation, as well as street design that allows for safe use for everyone, not just those in vehicles.

On any given day, says Cristina Martin Firvida, government affairs director for financial security and consumer affairs at AARP's national office, half of seniors who do not drive are stuck at home. Being housebound means missed doctor appointments, poor nutrition because of difficulty shopping, and limited interaction with relatives and friends, she says.

"For them, transportation alternatives are a must, so they can get out the door and maintain the quality of life that they need and expect as they age."

A campaign kicked off in Indiana this week calling for dedicated funding for transit - and for regional cooperation to design transit systems. Wegner encourages Hoosiers to sign the online petition to show support.

"Transit can be in many forms. It can be fast, it can be buses, it can be all sorts of things, and it needs to be included in the picture."

The Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority is promoting the petition.

The full report, "Aging in Place, Stuck without Options," is online at t4america.org.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - IN