Diving into senior mobility in Charlotte

Many senior adults in Charlotte struggle to maintain their mobility as they age, often resulting in social isolation and inability to meet daily needs. The gaps in Charlotte’s transportation network and barriers to mobility for seniors, particularly for those seniors who rarely leave their homes, are not fully understood.

Thanks to the generous support of Southminster, Sustain Charlotte partnered with residents in four neighborhoods to evaluate a wide variety of factors that may limit senior mobility including health, safety, infrastructure, personal finances, knowledge of transportation options, comfort level using various transportation modes, and desire to maintain personal mobility. The goal was to not only identify specific mobility challenges that prevent Charlotte seniors from traveling to their desired daily destinations, but to also envision how the mobility needs of senior residents could be addressed. In this way, this is both a research and an action project with the project’s approach and outcomes being replicable in other Charlotte neighborhoods in the future.

Sustain Charlotte worked with residents in Lincoln Heights, Hidden Valley, Washington Heights, University Park, and the West Blvd corridor, hosting workshops and conducting door-to-door surveying to identify specific senior mobility challenges.


The full survey results were compiled into reports for each neighborhood/area. Currently, the Lincoln Heights report is complete and can be found here. The other reports will be available upon completion. General trends are highlighted below using Lincoln Heights as an example.

1 in 5 seniors surveyed in Lincoln Heights reported that during the past month, they were unable to reach a destination because they could not find transportation. While a majority reported being satisfied / very satisfied with their ability to leave home when they want/need to, 28% reported being unsatisfied / very unsatisfied. Locations seniors reported being unable to reach ranged from social activities like going to the home of a friend to making a doctor’s appointment. There are still far too many seniors reporting difficulty reaching a grocery store or pharmacy.

Participants reported a strong interest in trying different modes of transportation. Seniors are very interested in social forms of transportation including riding with friends, relatives, and volunteers. Of all modes of transportation, survey participants expressed the strongest interest in trying public transportation. Participants reported long travel time and difficulty navigating the public transportation system as two particular areas of concern.

Participants reported safety concerns as a barrier preventing them from trying other modes of transportation including walking and biking. All of the participating neighborhoods included areas of high-speed vehicle traffic. Access to safe, well-lit sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes were highlighted as important improvements that could be made in the community.

Using this data, we can envision an alternative scenario where all seniors have access to safe and convenient transportation. When we work in our community to address the needs of seniors, we improve transportation for everyone.

Next Steps

  • Sustain Charlotte will continue to meet with participating neighborhoods to address resident concerns.
  • Sustain Charlotte will work with residents to conduct a walkability audits where residents will walk together and evaluate specific locations in their neighborhood for mobility concerns.
  • Sustain Charlotte will assist participating neighborhoods that want to apply for Neighborhood Matching Grants provided by the city.
  • Sustain Charlotte will work with residents to help seniors get transit IDs (in order to get reduced transit fares) and apply for Special Transportation Service (STS).
  • Sustain Charlotte will work with the seniors to better understand and operate the payment kiosks at light rail stations. This was a concern regularly brought up in community workshops.
  • Sustain Charlotte will share this report with the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT), and local elected officials in order to address areas of concern.

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