With the 65+ demographic expected to reach 71 million by 2030, pedestrian safety is one of the main service and infrastructure needs that must be considered. This report discusses improvements that can be made in planning efforts to better accommodate this older population that often times suffers from age-related issues, such as arthritis and poor vision, that make it more difficult for them to get around.
Being able to walk safely in one’s community encourages physical activity and community engagement, while also simply providing a way for people to get where they need to go. With one of three older adults falling each year, leading to injury-related death, any actions taken to improve pedestrian safety will benefit all residents,especially the 65+ population. This paper focuses on a specific program called Walk Wise, Drive Smart, which was created in Hendersonville, North Carolina to address the public health concern of pedestrian safety. Since the pilot programs implementation in 2005, it has helped to educate officials, planners and residents, and has helped to make changes to the community, such as improved walkways and roadways. Specifically, the program has helped to develop pedestrian safety plans, conduct walking audits of individual neighborhoods, establish neighborhood walking routes, develop materials on how to walk and drive safely, and install outdoor benches at strategic locations.
How to Use
This document serves as a great case study for local officials and planners in small to midsize communities that are considering the implementation of a pedestrian safety initiative. It provides demographic details on Hendersonville, NC, as well as background information on how the pilot program was started, research that was conducted, needs that were uncovered, and community awareness tactics.