Transport planners at Leeds University asked 60 and 70 year olds about their experience of visiting the city centre. They came up with some simple but fairly obvious answers.
Not enough public toilets was a common cry. Did they mention the poor reputation public toilets have these days? Lack of seats and benches was another. No mention of the chewing gum and empty lager cans though?
Important as these things are, I doubt they tell the whole story. There are plenty of Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Café Nero, Cappuccino Heaven Coffee Bars with seats and toilets if all you want is a sit-down and a …………
It is the image of many city centres that has changed. Hustle and bustle; get in, buy one get one free and get out; clothes shops full of clothes for the young; technology shops with assistants whose sales patter about gigabytes will lose you in a nanosecond.
Then there are the pick-pockets and street muggers – real or imagined – who will be off with your handbag in a heartbeat.
Oh and of course there is the problem of getting there in the first place. Even with the free bus pass – will the bus stop be long enough for me to get on and get sat down. If I manage to get on, will I manage to get off? Bus drivers’ timetables were not scheduled by an old person and there are no conductors to help you on and off any more.
If you still have your own car, you have to negotiate multi-storey car packs with endless wind ramps, tight turns, tiny parking spaces, and finally incomprehensible ticket machines.
Now they wonder why older people don’t go into town centres so much any more!