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Is the Cost of Gas Leading Americans to Use Alternative Transportation? (2008)


The livability of a community does not just focus on housing, it also promotes safe driving and offers a range of mobility options, all of which help facilitate personal independence and, therefore, increase the chance of Americans aging in place. In this AARP study, around half of respondents indicated that they were likely to support policies in their community that ensured roads are usable for all pedestrians, and almost all respondents were concerned about rising gas prices. For this reason, AARP discusses the concept of complete streets, with a focus on gas prices.

Key Points

This study surveyed 1,006 aging adults (50+) in the United States, examining their perceptions of the community in which they live and their overall support for complete street initiatives, as well as their transportation preferences. There was a specific focus on the gas price crisis, which led to a number of conclusions, including the concern of rising gas prices by almost all of respondents and the indication that many respondents were making lifestyle adjustments such as walking or limiting driving due to the rising gas prices.

Other report highlights include:

  1. Due to the rising gas prices, respondents not only limited their daily driving, but they also cut back on other expenses and postponed travel/vacations.
  2. In order to determine how user-friendly and safe communities were for all users, respondents were asked whether their communities had a number of features. The most common features communities had included adequate enforcement of posted speed limits and adequate street lighting, while the least common features included adequate bike accommodations, a comfortable place to wait for the bus, and a safe place for pedestrians to wait halfway when crossing the street.
  3. AARP members were more likely to say they support complete street policies, showcasing that education of the importance of complete street policies might be necessary and helpful.

How to Use

This study is a great resource for information regarding livability features, with a specific focus on transportation. In light of rising gas prices, consumers are making lifestyle changes, but driving is still the desired form of transportation. Local officials can use the information provided to educate residents on the concept of complete streets, as well as help to determine what features are needed within their community to make it more user-friendly and safe. Walking is a great alternative for financial as well as health reasons. A great starting point to encourage walking is providing information on complete street initiatives and working with transportation officials to use this data to create safer environments for pedestrians of all ages, but especially the aging population.

View full report: Is the Cost of Gas Leading Americans to Use Alternative Transportation? – 2008 (PDF – 227 KB)

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