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Neighborhood Walk Turns Dangerous

Dark and Mysterious Alley at Night

Jeff Spielman/Getty Images

It’s early Saturday morning and I’ve decided to join my neighbors in the quest to stay fit. I have to say I’m not that excited. I’m not one of those gals who jumps out of bed ready to work up a sweat. I move pretty slow. But, there’s another reason I’m headed out the door.

I’m curious to know the “walkability’ of my neighborhood and surrounding community.

Walkability. It truly means what it implies. How friendly is your community for those who walk, bike, or use transit? Can we safely cross the intersection? Are there sidewalks or bike lanes? How easy it is to access services from your home?

Mobility is key to maintaining independence and staying connected to the community.
“AARP has long-promoted transportation options for older adults nationally and at the state and local levels,” said Linedda McIver, Associate State Director of Multicultural Outreach, AARP Louisiana. “Persons age 50+ tell us they would walk, bicycle, and take public transportation more if it were safer for them to do so. As Louisiana’s 65+ population is projected to grow 81% in the next 20 years, creating walkable communities has never been more important.”

I’ve walked my neighborhood and now I’m headed out to a busier street.

I pass by a school and the roads narrow. I have to jump on the grass to move out of the way of cars. Sidewalks are non-existent. I’m wondering how area children cross the street.

Down the road I see all the folks crowded on the corner waiting for the city bus. No sidewalks. No bus shelter. No crosswalk.

I look down either side of the busy road – the road leading to nearby grocery stories, pharmacies, and services. There aren’t any sidewalks in site. This looks dangerous. If I didn’t have a car, I would worry about walking to the store.

“AARP believes that sidewalks should be a required component of the travel network, and that existing communities should be retrofitted with appropriately sized facilities,” said McIver. “All sidewalks should ideally be planned to connect to destinations where neighborhood residents want to go. That way walking can be purposeful as well as recreational.”

What would it take for my community to have walkable streets? It’s much more than money. It’s adopting policies that encourage complete streets – making streets safe and convenient for people of all ages and abilities, whether traveling by car, foot, bicycle, bus or streetcar.

The Louisiana AARP state office is hard at work to bring Complete Streets initiatives across the state, making our steets and sidewalks safer. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development have adopted some Complete Street policies.

It’s a great start.

Want to Create the Good? Conduct a Sidewalk and Street Survey.

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