Idea of the Day: Improved streets help older adults to get up and go

From time to time, we’ll throw out an “Idea of the Day” culled from sources here in Arizona and elsewhere.  And this one comes from Barbara McCann of the National Complete Streets Coalition.

A new poll out from AARP documents how incomplete streets are making it tough for older Americans to avoid paying the high price of gasoline.  Almost 40% of those polled say they don’t have adequate sidewalks in their neighborhood, 55% say that they don’t have bike lanes or paths, and 48% say there is not a comfortable place to wait for the bus.  Most sobering, almost half (47%) of poll responders say they cannot cross the main roads safely.  AARP’s Senior Vice President for Livable Communities Elinor Ginzler put it succinctly: “More Americans age 50+ are trying to leave their cars behind but face obstacles as soon as they walk out the door, climb on their bikes, or head for the bus,” said Ginzler.

Yet despite these barriers, about 40% of respondents reported they have given up their car for some trips and are walking (29%), taking transit (16%), or riding a bicycle (15%) to beat high gas prices.  And of those who reported an inhospitable environment outside their homes, more than half, 54%, said they would walk, bicycle, and take transit more if their streets were improved.  This shows the tremendous unmet potential of our street network to provide more ways to get around.  A majority of those polled also expressed support for complete streets policies, which ensure that roads are planned, designed, and built for all users.  AARP is a solid supporter of federal complete streets legislation and is working on a research paper and resource guide on accommodating older drivers and pedestrians as part of complete streets initiatives.

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