Age-Friendly Walking

Age-Friendly Walking

“We believe that if everything we do in our cities is great for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, then it will be great for all people.” – 8 80 Movement

Age-Friendly Walking is an emerging framework to increase pedestrian safety for children and older adults. As elderly populations continue to grow across the state and country, the need for walkable communities increases. Many seniors living on fixed incomes cannot afford private cars and others stop driving as they continue to age. Walkability is thus key to ensuring that seniors can age in place, maintain good physical, cognitive and mental health, access important goods and services, remain socially and civically active, and maintain physical and economic mobility. Working with low-income seniors and seniors of color has helped us incorporate equity into this work. We have learned that Age-Friendly Walking is a powerful frame to bring diverse stakeholders and new partners to the table.

With financial support from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation and the Massachusetts Councils on Aging, we are working intensively with the City of Boston on Age-Friendly Walking for seniors. We have been named as a key implementation partner in the 2017 Age-Friendly Boston Action Plan. We also serve on the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative. This work builds on prior collaborations with Brookline, Fall River, Weymouth, Belchertown, Williamsburg and Gloucester, where we worked with seniors and municipal staff to improve walking safety and accessibility, and to secure built environment changes on the ground. Please contact us if you would like more detailed information on our Age-Friendly walking work.

The senior-focused walking conditions that we work to improve include smoother sidewalks, safe access to bus stops, longer WALK times on traffic signals, and better access to shade, benches and public restrooms. These are often determining factors for seniors to feel safe and secure walking in their communities. When these issues are addressed, streets and sidewalks become more welcoming and accessible places for people of all ages.

We encourage your community to consider joining the global Age-Friendly Communities movement with leadership from AARP and the World Health Organization.