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Age-Friendly Walking – better walking for all ages

Age-Friendly Walking – better walking for all ages

By Adi Nochur/Project Manager, WalkBoston

Age-Friendly Walking is an emerging framework to increase pedestrian safety for children and older adults. WalkBoston has spent many years working with children on Safe Routes to Schools efforts, and over the last two years we have focused on seniors through an Age-Friendly Walking initiative with Boston. In close collaboration with the City’s Elderly Commission and many other municipal agencies, community partners, and local residents, we are advancing safe and comfortable walking for Boston seniors – and by extension everyone!

With financial support from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation and the Mass Councils on Aging, we are working with three pilot neighborhoods in Boston – the South End, East Boston, and Mattapan Square – to identify key issues and concerns, and to implement street and sidewalk improvements that create safe and pleasant walking conditions for seniors. We are also using the lessons learned from these pilots to create guidelines for a long-term citywide approach to senior walking. Providing benches as places to rest and repairing unfilled and uneven tree pits to eliminate tripping hazards are among the top priorities we have identified (as well as sidewalk snow shoveling, of course). Thanks to our efforts, improving pedestrian safety is a key recommendation in the City’s Age-Friendly Boston Action Plan. We look forward to our continued partnership with city agencies and community partners to make a positive impact on these issues.

As elderly populations continue to grow across the state and country, the need for walkable communities increases. Walkability is key to ensuring that seniors can age in place, access important goods and services, remain socially 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.

We encourage your community to consider joining the global Age-Friendly Communities movement, with leadership from the World Health Organization and AARP. We also invite you to contact WalkBoston if you’re interested in starting an Age-Friendly Walking initiative in your community! Visit our page for more details on our Age-Friendly work to date.

This article was featured in WalkBoston’s March 2018 newsletter.
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