We need your voice to help make Vermont roads better for all. AARP Vermont’s top legislative priority for the 2011 session is the passage of H. 198, a statewide Complete Streets law to improve safety and access for all users of Vermont’s roadways.
Vermont is the second oldest state in the country and we need to plan for a transportation and mobility future that deals with this demographic reality. Thankfully, newly elected Governor Shumlin has made public transportation and older drivers a priority for his Administration. With the help of 45 community and statewide organizations across the state and the participation of members like you, we can make a difference.
So what is a “Complete Streets” policy and why is it important? Complete streets policies ensure that state and local transportation projects dealing with paved roads routinely design and implement roadways that accommodate users of all ages and abilities. AARP VT supports Complete Streets because as people get older they drive less or hang up the keys altogether. This life change can mean a lower quality of life, less independence and isolation if alternative ways of getting around are not available.
The statistics paint a compelling picture. A recent AARP report found that 2 in 5 Americans age 50+ say their neighborhood sidewalks are inadequate. Incomplete streets include anything from no sidewalks or bike lanes to broken sidewalks and unsafe crossings. Some 47 percent of Americans over the age of 50 reported not being able to safely cross a main road near their home. This is a key reason why 65 percent of non-driving seniors make fewer trips to visit family, friends, shop or attend community events. It is unacceptable that so many older Vermonters are staying home and missing out on activities that are so vital to mental and physical health due to inadequate pedestrian access or safety concerns. By 2025, people age 65+ will comprise nearly 20% of the population. Yet two-thirds of transportation planners and engineers say they have yet to begin addressing older people in their street planning.
“AARP is calling on our members and others in the community to support this bill by calling their legislators and asking for their vote,” said Greg Marchildon, AARP Vermont state director. “It is critical to show the support of citizens around the state.” AARP is pushing for H. 198 to be passed by the House Transportation Committee and passed along to the Senate in March for their consideration.
So please pick up the phone or write to your legislator and ask them to support this important initiative.
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