Mobility is a key aspect of active ageing enabling participation and autonomy into later life. Remaining active brings multiple physical but also social benefits leading to higher levels of well-being. With globally increasing levels of urbanisation alongside demographic shifts meaning in many parts of the world this urban population will be older people, the challenge is how cities should evolve to enable so-called active ageing.
A mixed method approach was trialled to identify locations beneficial to subjective well-being and participant-led solutions to urban mobility challenges. Spatial analysis was used to identify key underlying factors in locations and infrastructure that promoted or compromised mobility and well-being for participants. Co-designed solutions were assessed for acceptability or co- benefits amongst a wider cross-section of urban residents (n = 233) using online and face-to-face surveys in each conurbation. The research analysis identified three critical intersecting and interacting thematic problems for urban mobility amongst older people: The quality of physical infrastructure; issues around the delivery, governance and quality of urban systems and services; and the attitudes and behaviors of individuals that older people encounter.
This identified complexity reinforces the need for policy responses that may not necessarily involve design or retrofit measures, but instead might challenge perceptions and behaviors of use and access to urban space. The co-design results further highlight that solutions need to move beyond the generic and placeless, instead embedding specific locally relevant solutions in inherently geographical spaces, populations and processes to ensure they relate to the intricacies of place.