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At-Home Aging Is Easier in Pedestrian-Friendly Communities

Suggestions to improve 'walkability'

During that walk, AARP volunteer Barb Bush saw many pedestrians along the main street that goes through each borough.

"There were a lot of people who were blind, people with walkers, people with canes, and people on bikes, and people walking their pets," said Bush, who has lived in Avalon for 55 years.

She said the addition of benches to allow pedestrians to rest and bus shelters to protect riders from rain or snow would make the Avalon and Bellevue main streets more pleasant and useful for pedestrians. The suggestion was echoed in the report's findings.

Burden said communities where people can walk to the places they go regularly are more attractive to people of all ages, along with being livable for residents who can't drive.

His suggestions for improving Bellevue and Avalon include repairing cracked sidewalks and building curbs to bulge out at crosswalks so drivers and pedestrians can see each other more easily.

Trees, bike racks, better signs

Burden's group also suggested planting trees along sidewalks. Trees and clear crosswalk markings have the added benefit of giving drivers visual hints to slow down, he said.

Other suggestions include adding bike racks; installing street signs that point the way to libraries, shops, post offices and schools; and marking traffic lanes to tell motorists that they must share the road with bicyclists.

Before AARP and the WALC Institute began their assessment of Avalon and Bellevue, elected officials had been discussing ways to make the area more walkable. Kathy Coder, a member of the Bellevue Borough Council, said officials plan to incorporate suggestions from AARP and the WALC Institute into designs for new or reconstructed roads.

You may also like: Taking older people into account in transportation considerations. >>

Rebecca VanderMeulen is a writer living in Downingtown, Pa.

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