Leaving Cars Behind, Seniors Find Streets Inhospitable

1431951650_b0764494d8.jpgA recent poll conducted by AARP finds that Americans over the age of 50 are cutting down on car trips due to rising gas prices, but are finding public infrastructure, or lack thereof, to be an obstacle.

Almost one of every three people (29%) polled say they are now walking
as a way to avoid high gas prices. But as those people set out to walk,
almost 40% of the 50+ population say they do not have adequate
sidewalks in their neighborhoods. Additionally, 44% say they do not
have nearby public transportation that is accessible. Almost half (47%)
of poll responders say they cannot cross the main roads safely – 4 in
10 pedestrian fatalities are over the age of 50.

Still, 40 percent of poll respondents say they have walked, biked, or taken public transit more frequently since gasoline prices began trending upward. More than half, 54 percent, say they would use alternate modes of transportation if conditions were improved.

As older New Yorkers can attest, impediments to car-free mobility are not exclusive to suburbs and exurbs. Washington, DC, for example, ranks ninth — better than Arizona but worse than Florida — in pedestrian fatalities among those over age 65, according to AARP. (New York state is third worst, behind Hawaii and Alaska.)

With some 35 million members, AARP is a formidable lobby. As a member of the National Complete Streets Coalition and backer of legislation that would steer federal funds toward making roadways accessible to all users, it promises to be a player in next year’s big transportation appropriations bill.

Photo: Tuan Phan/Flickr

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

The Case for Active Transportation, by the Numbers

|
Thanks to commenter Stephen for prodding us to post on the new report from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, "Active Transportation for America" (download the PDF here). What makes the report notable are the numbers it contains. It’s jam-packed with quantifiable benefits that would result from increased investment in infrastructure that encourages and supports pedestrians and cyclists. […]

Poll: Voters From All Walks Support Transportation Improvements, Reform

|
Don’t be fooled by the high-pitched rhetoric in Washington. The vast majority of Americans are united, at least when it comes to the topic of transportation. That’s the conclusion of the Rockefeller Foundation poll released earlier this week. A bipartisan polling team questioned 1,000 American voters nationwide about their attitudes toward the nation’s roads, bridges […]

National Poll: Americans Expect Gas Prices to Rise More

|
Fifteen Percent Live Near Convenient Transit Options By a margin greater than four to one, Americans think the price of gas is more likely to hit $5 per gallon than drop to $3 per gallon, according to poll results released last week by Survey USA. With a rash of stories about how drivers are changing […]

Alabama Students Walk to School to Protest Gas Prices

|
On their way to class, Brooks High students brave the shoulder along route 72. Perhaps taking a page from their peers in New Jersey, students at Brooks High in Florence, Alabama are ditching their cars in favor of walking to school. The Times Daily of northwest Alabama reports: Students began wondering how much they could […]