Danielle Arigoni is the Director of Livable Communities for AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons). AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers people to choose how they live as they age. Find the nearest AARP state office to where you live by visiting AARP.org/States.
HER ANGLE » WALKABLE & BIKEABLE LOCATIONS BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER ACROSS GENERATIONS
Ms. Arigoni is convinced that walking and biking infrastructure is the not-so-secret sauce of placemaking.
The benefits it provides are so much greater than the sum of a few crossing signals, some bicycles, and painted crosswalks and lanes. Walking and bicycling deliver well-documented health benefits for individuals and the promise of a more sustainable and energy-neutral transportation future for the nation.
The 2018 Benchmarking Report reveals that our collective efforts are working. One especially pleasing data point for AARP is that the percentage of people age 65 or older who regularly walk for exercise or to just get around is far greater today than it was for that age group in 2009.
AARP knows that pedestrian- and bike-friendly environments enable people of all ages and incomes to get around. We know that walkable and bikeable locations bring people together across generations. We know that communities where people can spend time outdoors, walk along sidewalks and safely cross streets are desirable places to live, work and play.
That’s why AARP is committed to ensuring that communities where older adults live (and that would be all communities) are supported in their efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycling pathways and increase bike ridership. In doing so, AARP is helping older adults and people of all ages access a viable means of mobility. And when we help create community amenities — in the form of trails, bicycle racks, bike-share programs, and protected walk-bike lanes — we make bicycling and walking safer for everyone, and that makes communities stronger and more livable.
HER ANGLE » WORKING LOCALLY NATIONWIDE TO ENGAGE COMMUNITIES
AARP is working locally nationwide to engage whole communities (not just our members) in “fun with purpose” activities that get people bicycling or walking as a means to combat isolation, promote healthy living and enhance social engagement. AARP advances those goals through demonstration projects and by providing targeted, quick- action grants through the AARP Community Challenge, which funds real and tangible change on the ground. In the grant program’s two years, AARP has helped promote bicycling among older adults by financing bicycle racks, expanding bike-share access, installing bike-repair stations, advocating for safer street crossings and developing a mobile demonstration kit to promote transportation safety initiatives (including bike lanes) across an entire state.
Beyond that, AARP is engaged with the more than 300 municipalities — and three entire states — that are enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. AARP staff and volunteers across the country directly support local leaders to increase transportation options as part of the network’s multi-year, locally-driven age-friendly planning process. Many of the communities have concluded that pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure is a key to ensuring that the mobility of older adults doesn’t end when their driving days do. In those communities, everyone wins. Cyclists benefit from protected bike lanes, pedestrians benefit from slower traffic speeds, and drivers benefit from alternatives that reduce congestion.