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Safe Places for Senior Citizens to Walk

10:23 AM EDT on April 8, 2009

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we're talking sidewalks. Specifically, Greater Greater Washington is talking about the lack of sidewalks in many parts of DC where there is a concentration of people who are particularly in need of them: senior citizens.

1aseniorswalking_n_biking_1.jpgPhoto by Dan Burden via Transportation for America.

At a recent hearing on DDOT's budget, Marlene Berlin, head of the DC Senior Transportation Initiative for IONA Senior Services, presented maps showing the sections of DC with the most senior citizens, many of which are also the most lacking in sidewalks.

Berlin explained that many seniors rely on walking for transportation (as do many non-seniors), and missing sidewalks, especially between their homes and the nearest shops or bus stops, create dangerous situations for people already more vulnerable to being hit and killed by vehicles. She urged the Council to fund sidewalks and close the gaps.

DDOT's general policy calls for adding sidewalks when reconstructing a road without them. However, neighbors don't always agree.

Recently the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) joined the Transportation for America coalition, saying, "America is aging rapidly and transportation policy and spending must acknowledge this demographic shift. The upcoming transportation authorization can help the nation prepare both for its graying years and a greener future by making roads safer for drivers of all ages and also offering more user friendly options for pedestrians and transit users."

Sidewalks and other "complete streets" measures are an important way to help people stay active, healthy and happy as they age. Their opponents should maybe think about the possibility that some day they might no longer be able to drive and would like a place to walk other than the gutter.

Elsewhere around the network: California High Speed Rail Blog writes about a new poll that shows Americans favor high-speed trains; Livable Streets West Palm Beach looks at the power of ciclovías; and Tom Vanderbilt considers "the efficiency paradox" of higher gas mileage on his blog, How We Drive.

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