Developing an accessible transport system should concern all age groups. It is no use to wait that individuals get old to use particular elderly-friend mechanisms. The transport system should be multigenerational and universal. This can be understood as what is good for the elderly is good for all other age groups. Over a decade, city planners have utilized conception Design for All (DfA), which implies designing products, environment, and services, which affect equally to all population groups. In addition, it is not possible to plan mobility options for elderly people in the vacuum. Decisions concerning e.g. benches are affecting those who might cycle in the same place. The concern of the development is if the city planners are aware of the circumstances, which determine elderly people’s mobility and if their voice is heard as well as others’. When planning methods for elderly people’s participation, ageing as a process should be considered. Getting older has three dimensions, which might also have different implications for an individual’s capability to participate: social ageing, historical context, and generational membership.
Any participatory tool or method does not ensure that the process is participatory. It always depends on the use of the tool. However, by using several tools, it is possible to increase the level of participation. It is important to understand the basic principles of different methods. All methods are beneficial when used in the right situation and circumstances.
Informing the audience/target group
The informing methods are connected to the first level of participation. The aim of the tools is to inform citizens about something. Communication is one-sided and it comes from the provider´s side without inherent possibility to give feedback. This concerns also events, for example, panels, which have a clear distinction between conversationalists and audiences. Even though the information is regarded as a very low level of participation (if at all), it does not mean that information level tools have no benefits. They are necessary tools in awareness-raising, for example.
Examples: information events, websites without interaction, newsletters and other published material, campaigns, panel discussions.
Gathering information/collecting feedback
Information gathering is also a one-sided way of communication. Its aim is to either get target groups’ opinions over some matter or more general insight of target groups’ lives. The tools can be very comprehensive, including workshops and discussions. Still, the aim is only to gather information without the intention to negotiate about these matters or involve participants further. These tools are frequently used for preparation purposes and getting a basic understanding of the wider audience.
Examples: Interview, observation, conversation, personal narratives, questionnaires, case studies.
In Manchester, a priority method was used. “In order to explore the key transport issues for older people in Greater Manchester, a series of workshops were set up in six different locations. Workshops included older people from the local areas. Each workshop lasted around one and a half hours. In each workshop, participants prioritized key issues that they have with transport in different domains outlined in an age-friendly transport model. Each group concentrated on different areas of transport, but each of them included pedestrian issues, as almost all journeys begin and end with walking. Each workshop finished with prioritizing solutions.” Read more.
Action research project in Belgium: “The operational objectives of the research project were to gain insights into the current mobility patterns of elderly people in Belgium and their determinants; to assess the impact of this mobility behaviour of the elderly in terms of sustainability now and in the future, to gain insight into older people’s perceptions regarding the problems of sustainable mobility, their own responsibility, and opportunities for action and to test and evaluate new methods to enhance elderly participation into the local mobility policy.” Read more.
In knowledge transfer tools the basic idea is that all participants are aware of other participants’ opinions or perspectives. They can consider all dimensions and add their own opinions in order to form a comprehensive picture of the matter. Participants do not have to agree on issues. Only in the deliberative discussion, the assumption is that at the end of the process, there will be some consensus on the matter.
Examples: Deliberative discussions, learning café, conceptual mapping.
Co-creation, co-designing, co-production
The basic principles of the co-creation method are to gather a wider range of perspectives, consider the needs of end-users, but also understand the constraints of reality. In addition, co-creation methods reveal the complexity and interconnections of factors and raise awareness and understanding between different interest groups. The result of the co-creation process ought to be agreed upon and lead to actual decision-making. In order to achieve these goals, also politicians and other decision-makers should be involved. Co-designing methods can consist of the same features, but they address less the empowering dimension.
A common feature of deliverable tools is the aim to provide citizens with accurate information, the possibility to consider the evidence and discuss with others before forming own opinion about the matter. They are based on the ideal of deliberative democracy aiming at jointly formed opinions and best-evidenced solutions. Inherent to these tools is the presumption that the results are affecting the policy level and decision-making.
In Scottish Government Social Research Group websites, examples of these methods are introduced. Read more.
The presumption of mentoring methods is that people can learn through socialisation by asking, looking and discussing with others, who are more experienced. In addition, mentoring has features of safety and confidence-building while getting familiar with new things together with someone.
Examples: Coaching, peer coaching, over-generational coaching
Passenger support, mentoring services, and travel ambassadors: helping older people to enter and exit vehicles, ensuring they have seats, and accompanying them on a practice journey (The Netherlands, Krakow, Manchester & London).
The Mediate (Methodology for Describing the Accessibility of Transport in Europe) project’s main objective was to contribute to the development of inclusive urban transport systems with better access for all citizens. One of the project’s outputs was Good Practice Guide, which covers a wide spectrum of examples of different types of initiatives.
Travel ambassadors (The Netherlands): Public transport “ambassadors” were brought onto the buses of the specific route to explain how they work and to help when necessary. These ambassadors also visited the target group in retirement homes, where public transportation and door-to-door services were explained.
The living lab method means testing and/or developing a service in a real-life situation.
Service prototyping is a tool for testing the service by observing the interaction of the user with a prototype put in the place, situation, and condition where the service will actually exist. The purpose of this method is to analyse the interaction between end-users/citizens and the new service, policy or strategy that is to be implemented and the impact on the user perception and experience. Service prototyping can be used in all stages of the co-design process, but it is especially valuable in the ideation phase.
3H: Head, Heart, Hands-on is an open living lab methodology that has been specifically developed for the European CIP iCity project2. It uses the human body to describe a step-by-step user-driven innovation process: 1. Head: identifying and mapping the actors of the community innovation system to provide protocols and tools to collect and understand the needs and barriers. 2. Heart: consolidating all the relationships necessary to establish trust and commitment between all the stakeholders. 3. Hands-on: engaging the participants in the co-creation and development activity in itself. This final part includes an evaluation activity based on a client-driven set of indicators.
Photovoice is a qualitative research technique in which participants record and reflect their community through photography. It has been proved an effective tool for eliciting older citizens’ perceptions of their communities, giving voice to their concerns and identifying strategies for change. Nevertheless, there are several challenges to overcome including training in photography.
Examples: photovoice, personal narratives.
Examples: Site visit/field trip, walking groups, community mapping, photovoice.
Audit local areas: Older people would very much welcome the opportunity to audit their own local area. An example of a local neighbourhood audit tool is the Older People’s Residential Assessment Tool (OPERAT). Read more.
ICT methods (e-participation)
The core idea is to enhance human communication with digital tools – making participation easier by de-attaching it from physical places or schedules of traditional workshops or meetings or aiming at creating added value on ideation and communication in physical workshops.
GreenSAM partners declared similarly that traditional participative methods were used in their cities. All cities have used public events, nearly all mentioned web-based feedback. Aarhus, Riga, and Tartu mentioned hearings and Hamburg, Tartu and Turku mentioned web-based platforms. In addition, Riga mentioned urban planning workshops. Other methods for getting users’ insight are questionnaires, interviews, social media channels (Gdansk, Tartu, Turku) and co-creation of transport and mobility solutions (Riga, Tartu). In addition, Gdansk mentioned Mayor’s meetings with citizens.
In the GreenSAM project, the objective is to pilot at least one participatory tool in every partner city for developing age-friendly green mobility. The main outcome of this project will be a Toolbox for city planners, which includes detailed descriptions of tools, quality catalog, and implementation guidance.
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