Friday, May 15 2009 @ 01:30 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
Update Design Guidelines and Complete Streets Will Accommodate Everyone, AARP Report Challenges
WASHINGTON, DC--Two-thirds of transportation planners and engineers have yet to begin addressing older people in their street planning; yet by 2025, 64 million people will be over age 65 according to census projections and by 2030 a quarter of all U.S. drivers will be 65+. This is the alarm raised by “Planning Complete Streets for the Aging of America” a major new report on roadway safety and the aging of the American population from AARP’s Public Policy Institute. The full report can be found here: <a href="http://www.aarp.org/">http://www.aarp.org/</a>[…]/2009_02_streets.html.
Streets, sidewalks and roadways designed to achieve “Complete Streets” can make getting around safer for everyone, the report suggests. Yet in a poll of adults age 50+ also conducted for the report, two in five said their neighborhood sidewalks were inadequate (although, by 2030, 20% of those age 65+ will not be drivers). Nearly half said they could not cross main roads close to their home safely, preventing many from walking, bicycling or taking the bus. But safer, more accessible streets won’t happen until federal, state and local authorities and planners wake up to the need for roads that address the challenges of the coming age wave, the report charges.
“Improvements can reduce older driver crashes and pedestrian injuries without adversely affecting traffic; in many instances, local travel flow and accessibility are improved,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President for Social Impact. “But while a growing number of states and localities have Complete Streets policies, too few have been built. Furthermore, an outdated bias in engineering practices competes with current local desire for user-friendly “Complete Streets” design.
The report recommends that federal, state, and local highway and street design guidelines serve older people by 1) reducing vehicle travel speeds at intersections where older drivers and pedestrians need more time to make decisions and execute changes, 2) making the physical layout of roads, crosswalks and sidewalks easier to navigate, and 3) making it easier for older drivers and pedestrians to notice, read, understand and respond to visual cues and information.