Too many older Minnesotans suffer because of inadequate roads, lack of sidewalks and too few transportation choices.
That’s why AARP is working as a member of the Complete Streets Coalition to enact better transportation policies in communities around the state.
Crosswalks that are too long, communities without sidewalks, and bus stops that are too dangerous to get to -- greatly affect the health of older Minnesotans.
A recent AARP poll found 47% of Americans over age 50 said they could not cross main roads near their home safely. Almost 40% said their neighborhoods do not have adequate sidewalks, while another 55% reported no bike lanes or paths, and 48% reported no comfortable place to wait for the bus. In 2005, older Americans made up 20% of all pedestrian fatalities.
AARP members in Minnesota know that this issue affects all generations. As recently as 30 years ago, up to 70 percent of children were walking or riding bikes to school. Currently, the number has dropped to only 10 percent. Parents report that traffic safety is the main reason they do not permit their children to walk or bike to school.
Communities inMinnesota are eager to find ways to make their communities more walkable and bikable. Last year, AARP and Blue Zones picked one American city for a comprehensive citywide health makeover. The AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project in Albert Lea, Minnesota, sponsored by the United Health Foundation, helped spur the community of Albert Lea to increase sidewalks for pedestrians, promote more bike lanes throughout the City and to amend their comprehensive plan so that community leaders are now thinking about the future. They realized that complete streets are good for the health of the individuals in their community and good for the community as a whole.
If Albert Lea can do it, so can communities across Minnesota.
With the number of Minnesotans age 65 and over expected to rise to 20 percent of our population, AARP believes thatMinnesotamust be prepared for the future. Complete Streets will make the roads safer for all of us.
Find more information online about the Complete Streets Coalition.
Find more information online about the Vitality Project.