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Pedestrians, Watch Your Step!

How safe is walking in your community? AARP is working with Healthy Coastal Connections to find out.

According to a recent study, older Americans are two-thirds more likely than those younger than age 65 to be killed while walking. In 2007 and 2008, pedestrians 65-plus represented 18 percent of all fatalities, while making up just 13 percent of the population as a whole.

And, unless this situation is addressed, it will only get worse. By 2025, 18 percent of all Americans will be older than 65, and 12 million of them will no longer drive. At the very least, they will need to walk to access public transportation, but in areas without public transportation, walking may be their primary means of acquiring basic necessities.

AARP is working with other groups to ensure that Congress acts on future transportation bills designed to make roads safer for pedestrians of all ages, but every citizen can help now.

On Thursday, May 6, Mobile-area government, civic and community leaders are coming together at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center, One South Water Street, to learn more about the problem, and work toward solutions.

The public is invited, and anyone interested in making Mobile’s streets safer is encouraged to attend.

The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. with light hors d'oeuvres, followed by a presentation from David Goldberg, author of a new report, "Dangerous by Design", which addresses the epidemic of preventable pedestrian deaths.

AARP Alabama’s Associate State Director for Community Outreach Deidra Lemons is coordinating AARP’s transportation efforts in the state, and she is asking that Alabamians across the state get involved.

“A key mission of ours is to make communities more livable so people can walk or bicycle from their homes to nearby commercial centers, bus stops or, maybe in the future, to commuter rail stations.

“This issue touches almost every Alabamian, or almost certainly will in their lifetime. But, if we don’t take action now, we will find our state in a transportation crisis in the very near future,” Lemons said.

“Dangerous by Design” is a joint effort of the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America, two groups advocating for more federal transportation dollars to be dedicated to making roads safer for pedestrians. The project was guided by a steering committee that included representatives from AARP and several other organizations, including the American Public Health Association, America Bikes and Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership.

For more information contact Lemons at dlemons@aarp.org or visit our website, www.aarp.org/al.

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