Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Slide from Dr John Beard's presentation on "Age-Friendly Cities" at the recent World Congress on Healthy Ageing held in KL. Dr Beard is Director of Ageing and Life Course at WHO.

In 2007, the World Health Organization published the Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide. It was the culmination of a project based on constructive feedback from the elderly living in 33 cities in 22 countries.
With populations across the globe becoming increasingly older and more urbanized, the WHO guide makes for an excellent reference for city-planners looking to improve infrastructure and facilities for the elderly. These can range from providing more green spaces and park benches to more accessible public toilets.

I first wrote about age-friendly cities in a 2009 post. Three years on, it doesn't seem as if Kuala Lumpur is anywhere closer to being considered an age-friendly city. (You can view the check-list of essential features of age-friendly cities here.)

New York and Singapore are outstanding examples of city planning that takes into account the needs of the elderly. In 2009 the NY Mayor's office together with various city departments came out with 59 initiatives that would enhance city living for older citizens. The 136-page report should be made compulsory reading for our city-planners here in Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore: Longer crossing time

It doesn't always take billions of dollars to make a city elderly-friendly. Small thoughtful improvements can make moving around in the city so much more convenient for older people. For example, traffic lights at pedestrian crossings could be timed to allow older people ample time to cross busy roads. The lights at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre pedestrian crossing stays green for only 23 seconds! It's a mad dash across even for young people.

Our public transport system here is in desperate need of transformation. For a start, why can't buses have their numbers displayed at the back of the buses? Elderly people need not run after the bus as it is about to move off if they can see by the number that it's not the bus they want to board. Public transport officials can't even think of something so basic as this. Either they have never taken public buses before, or they have no empathy for the elderly, including their parents and grandparents.

23 seconds for the elderly to cross this busy street outside KLCC. Can they make it in time?

By the way, there is a roundtable discussion on "Public transport in Malaysia - issues and solutions" at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, KL, on 28 March from 9am to 1pm. As a frequent user of public transport, I'll be there to air some of my many grouses.

Join me?

Please read related post:

No allocation for the elderly

No comments: