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Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 257186, 10 pages
Research Article

Mobility and Active Ageing in Suburban Environments: Findings from In-Depth Interviews and Person-Based GPS Tracking

School of Design, Faculty of Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology, Gardens Point Campus, 2 George Street, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Australia

Received 4 May 2012; Revised 19 October 2012; Accepted 2 November 2012

Academic Editor: Alan Walker

Copyright © 2012 Elisabeth Zeitler et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Governments face a significant challenge to ensure that community environments meet the mobility needs of an ageing population. Therefore, it is critical to investigate the effect of suburban environments on the choice of transportation and its relation to participation and active ageing. Objective. This research explores if and how suburban environments impact older people's mobility and their use of different modes of transport. Methods. Data derived from GPS tracking, travel diaries, brief questionnaires, and semistructured interviews were gathered from thirteen people aged from 56 to 87 years, living in low-density suburban environments in Brisbane, Australia. Results. The suburban environment influenced the choice of transportation and out-of-home mobility. Both walkability and public transportation (access and usability) impact older people's transportation choices. Impracticality of active and public transportation within suburban environments creates car dependency in older age. Conclusion. Suburban environments often create barriers to mobility, which impedes older people's engagement in their wider community and ability to actively age in place. Further research is needed to develop approaches towards age-friendly suburban environments which will encourage older people to remain active and engaged in older age.