A street that’s made safer for an older adult to cross is also safer for a child walking to school, a parent pushing a stroller, a bicyclist, a jogger, a commuter, a shopper. In other words, a walkable community benefits everyone.
That’s one reason AARP Livable Communities is working both nationally and locally to help towns, cities and neighborhoods become more livable and walkable for people of all ages.
Among the other reasons?
According to AARP research, nearly eight out of 10 people over the age 45 want to “age in place” by continuing to live in their own homes and a full 80 percent believe their current community is where they will always reside. However, with millions of boomers approaching their 70s and many not being able to drive or afford the costs of owning a car, communities need transportation alternatives for residents who don’t or no longer drive.
Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can help adults improve their overall health and prevent disease. But obstacles and omissions — such as dangerous intersections, streets without sidewalks, poor maintenance of sidewalks, inadequate lighting — often discourage or prevent walking. (See the infographic below.)
Walking is the second most popular means of travel among people age 65-plus, but according to the National Highway Transportation Administration, 19 percent of all pedestrian fatalities and 10 percent of all pedestrians injured were people 65 and older. The stats aren’t much better for younger people: 5 percent all pedestrian fatalities and 15 percent of all pedestrians injured involved children 14 and younger.