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Transportation, mobility, and older adults in rural Michigan

Mobility, or the ability to get from place to place, is important for everyone. Mobility enables people to conduct the activities of daily life, stay socially connected with their world, participate in activities that make life enjoyable, and maintain their quality of life. In most Western Nations and in the United States (US) in particular, mobility is closely linked with the ability to drive a personal automobile. This preference for cars is particularly pronounced in rural areas where there are generally fewer transportation options. The long distances between rural residences and necessary services can lead to significant unmet need for transportation options in rural communities. At the same time, providing public transportation in remote areas is especially complex and expensive (Kihl, Knox, & Sanchez, 1997), and even when available, public transportation may not be an adequate mode of travel for the older population. While the rural population in Michigan presents challenges for transportation planners; connecting rural areas with improved transportation systems is also a challenge for the nation as a whole. With the increased population of older rural residents, providing adequate mobility options will continue to be an especially important issue in the coming years.

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