Seniors Facing High Gas Prices Find Giving Up Their Cars Tough

AARP finds that 29% of older Americans polled say they are now walking as a way to avoid high gas prices, but 40% say the sidewalks in their area are inadequate.

"A new poll by AARP finds that while many Americans ages 50+ are trying to move away from car transportation as a result of high gas prices, their attempt to go "green" is challenged by inadequate sidewalks and bike lanes, as well as insufficient public transportation options. "More Americans age 50+ are trying to leave their cars behind but face obstacles as soon as they walk out the door, climb on their bikes or head for the bus," said Elinor Ginzler, AARP Senior Vice President for Livable Communities.

Here are a few additional results from the poll that are of particular interest:

• Almost 40 percent of the 50+ Americans polled say sidewalks in their neighborhood are inadequate; 55 percent say that they don't have bike lanes or paths in their neighborhood, and 48 percent say there is not a comfortable place to wait for the bus.

• Yet despite these barriers, about 40 percent of respondents reported they have given up their car for some trips and are walking (29%), taking transit (16%) or riding a bicycle (15%) more often to beat high gas prices.

• Of those who reported an inhospitable environment in their neighborhoods, more than half, 54%, said they would walk, bicycle, and take transit more if their streets were improved. This shows the tremendous unmet potential of our street network to provide more ways to get around.

• A majority of those polled also expressed support for complete streets policies, which ensure that roads are planned, designed, and built for all users. 56% said they were ‘extremely or very' likely to support such policies, and 22% said they were ‘somewhat' likely to be supportive."

Full Story: AARP Poll: Fighting Gas Prices, Nearly a Third of Americans Age 50+ Hang Up Their Keys to Walk But Find Streets Inhospitable



Lack of sidealks due to HUD and White House

Undermining efforts to encourage all people to walk more has been the b.s. coming from HUD about reducing regulatory costs by eliminating such things as sidewalks and other "amenities" in new developments. Coming from the Clinton and both Bush eras, this business about reducing regulatory costs has been a smokescreen for the real right wing agenda: ending zoning and subdivision regulation altogether!

As professional planners, we owe it to the public, ourselves, and the planning profession to point out when the king's new clothes are invisible -- as they have been during the 20+ years where the far right has been systematically eroding planning and zoning with cost reduction as the excuse. It's a tragedy that APA has pretty much bought into this flim flam, hocus pocus nonplanning and that more planners do not speak out and expose the fallacies of this approach.

Daniel Lauber, AICP
AICP President 2003-2005, 1992, 1994
APA President 1985-1986

Michael Lewyn's picture

not sure what Mr. Lauber is referring to

I find it very hard to believe that HUD is somehow biased against sidewalks- especially since HOPE VI projects built with HUD assistance are often new urbanist projects.

Perhaps this comment refers to HUD's criticism of state and local regulations that raise housing prices generally - but those criticisms are not targeted at sidewalks, and in fact seem to be more focused on exclusionary zoning policies that reduce rather than increasing walkability (such as anti-density regulations limiting multifamily housing).

For an example, see

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $25.

City Coasters

Hand-drawn engraved maps of your favorite neighborhoods are divided up across 4 coasters making each one unique.

City Map Posters are in!

Available in 9 different cities.