An Aging USA Needs Safe Streets Now More Than Ever

Bigger cars and an older population means a growing number of Americans die while crossing the street, and the country is just getting older.
September 1, 2017, 8am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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There are 70 million Baby Boomers in the United States, which is about a fourth of the county's population. "By 2020, 56 million of them will be over 65 years old," Lloyd Alter writes in Mother Nature Network. This is concerning, because pedestrian fatalities in America are already climbing, and Americans are aging into more vulnerability. "Older people are dying in the streets because their bodies are more fragile, yet the mix of vehicles on the street gets deadlier every year as more people drive SUVs and pickup trucks that have front ends that are like vertical walls of steel," Alter writes.

"The usual thing these days is to blame the pedestrians for distracted walking," Alter complains. But the elderly represent a disproportionate share of the pedestrians being killed and they are less likely to use a cellphone while walking than their younger counterparts.

In terms of solutions, Alter proposes slowing down streets, not with lower posted speed limits, but actual design to slow traffic by adding road diets, bump-outs, and narrowed lanes, as well as regulating car makers so that they build safer cars like those already in place in Europe. Alter also suggests mobilizing pedestrians as a political force.

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Published on Monday, August 28, 2017 in Mother Nature Network
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