Well-designed, transit-rich neighborhoods provide many benefits to residents of all ages, as I document in, “ Independence Found in Downsizing to a Transit Rich Neighborhood.” These neighborhoods also provide dividends to the larger community, generating higher property values, rents, and revenue than real estate located further away from high quality public transportation services. Cities as diverse as Seattle, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Detroit, and Washington, DC have all strengthened their regional economies through investment in transit-oriented development (TOD). And because their residents walk and bike more, TOD residents reap some health benefits as well.
Most of us take our mobility for granted. We grab our keys and head out to work, buy groceries, and shuttle our kids to movies and soccer practice—all without a second thought. But for the one-third of Americans who don’t drive and many others who lack access to a working vehicle, transportation options don’t come easy—especially in rural America, where transportation has long been a seemingly intractable problem.
In 2009, a truck struck and killed Beverly Shelton’s grandson, Zachary, who was walking inside a marked crosswalk and accompanied by an adult. The driver had rolled through the stop sign rather than make a complete stop.
The Livability Index: Great Neighborhoods for All Ages does a few unique things and we are glad to know that residents and policymakers are beginning to use it. The index’s categories cover the wide range of issues that affect people’s lives and their ability to stay in their neighborhood if they want to do so.
How well does your community meet your needs — both today and in the future? With AARP Public Policy Institute’s new Livability Index: Great Neighborhoods for All Ages, people and policymakers have a first-of-its-kind resource to determine how well their neighborhoods support all members of the community. This is particularly important in the coming years to address the changing needs and wants of this country’s aging population as nearly 9 in 10 Americans 65-plus want to age in their communities and the overwhelming majority of them choose to do so.
America’s public health crisis has been well documented. More than two-thirds of adults are overweight, and more than 1 in 10 children become obese as early as ages 2 to 5. Boomers have the highest obesity rates of any age group, topping 35 percent in 17 states. Obesity is related to dozens of serious health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and vascular dementia. Traditional public health intervention efforts in the form of nutrition and exercise education and promotion have had limited success. What is clear is that a crisis of this scale and tenacity requires a fresh approach. Open Streets may be that spark.
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