Getting from point A to point B isn’t always as easy as it sounds—particularly for thousands of older Vermonters. For those of us working in the aging network, transportation has been a long standing problem for those we serve. When most Vermonters need to go to the doctor or the grocery store, they hop in their cars and go. But for a significant segment of the population—particularly lower-income and the elderly—it's not that easy. Many don't know where to turn, and still more forgo getting out altogether and just stay home. This leads to isolation from the community.
AARP Vermont is committed to making mobility improvements throughout Vermont. That’s why we have launched a statewide project called Transporting the Public to look at how we can provide robust options—bicycle, pedestrian, transit, volunteer driver programs, and more—to Vermonters who cannot drive or would like to drive less.
The first step was to convene a small multi-stakeholder group to develop a set of shared principles and desired results. That was followed by a statewide forum that engaged a broad cross-section of Vermont agencies, institutions, organizations and individuals in reviewing the principles and crafting a vision for an integrated statewide system for transporting the public. This group also worked to identify possible public policy changes to support this vision. Currently, we are looking at strategic policy changes and alliances that would help Vermont do a better job of transporting it residents. Some ideas will be pursued at the state level in Montpelier or locally and regionally across the state.
Part of the larger transportation picture is making our streets safe for motorists and pedestrians alike. The streets of our cities and towns are an important part of the livability of our communities. The streets ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars, or worse, creeping traffic jams.
AARP Vermont will be working with other organizations to press the State and Vermont cities and towns to plan, design and build roads that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone. Burlington, for example, has included the concept in its municipal transportation plan and designated certain roadways to be “complete streets.” Many cities are instituting a complete streets policy ensuring that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind—including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
In Washington, AARP supports legislation to include complete streets policy in the federal transportation bill. This would require states and regional entities to adopt complete streets policies for federally funded projects. We are pleased that the entire Vermont Congressional delegation has signed on as sponsors of the Complete Streets Act.
We’ll be sure to keep you up to date on the Transporting the Public project and new developments as they unfold. As always, we welcome your input and involvement as members. For more information, contact Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur at 866-227-7451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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