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Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 7289-7309;

Social Sustainability Issues and Older Adults’ Dependence on Automobiles in Low-Density Environments

1,*,† and 2,3,†
Faculty of Business, Government and Law and Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra, Bruce, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
Faculty of Health Sciences, Ageing, Work and Health Research Unit, University of Sydney, Lidcombe NSW 1825, Australia
Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW Australia, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Jack Barkenbus
Received: 27 February 2015 / Accepted: 2 June 2015 / Published: 8 June 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transportation and Sustainability)
PDF [531 KB, uploaded 9 June 2015]


An implicit assumption underlying government strategies to achieve a more sustainable urban transportation system is that all automobile users will be encouraged or persuaded to use more “green” transportation: public transportation, walking and cycling. Little consideration has been given as to how sustainable transportation policies and programmess might impact on different age groups in society, including those retired or semi-retired, despite the fact that an unprecedented number of older drivers will be on the highways in the next few decades. There is limited literature on the contextual factors behind their continued reliance on automobiles, their actual driving behavior (e.g., route choice and time of day to drive) framed within the context of social sustainability. This paper introduces the elements of transportation and social sustainability then conducts a comprehensive international literature review focusing on older drivers, their travel choices and associated social sustainability issues. It describes a case study, low-density city and presents empirical evidence, from two surveys conducted in Canberra, Australia. The paper concludes with future research directions that address these issues associated with sustainable transportation. View Full-Text
Keywords: social sustainability; older drivers; automobile-dependence; green transportation; low-density social sustainability; older drivers; automobile-dependence; green transportation; low-density

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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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Nakanishi, H.; Black, J. Social Sustainability Issues and Older Adults’ Dependence on Automobiles in Low-Density Environments. Sustainability 2015, 7, 7289-7309.

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