LA Times: Crosswalks are increasingly deadly for the elderly

New Yorkers cross at the corner of West 72nd Street and Brodway in Manhattan. As America ages, baby boomers retire and people walk more, planners are having to rethink streets and crossings designed for fast-moving traffic and younger pedestrians. (Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times / June 12, 2011)

Traffic planners start to rethink streets designed for fast-moving traffic as America ages and slower pedestrians take more time to cross.

By Tina Susman, Los Angeles TimesJune 11, 2011, 8:03 p.m.

Reporting from New York—

The wide avenues of the Upper West Side have some of this city’s handsomest neighborhoods, premier cultural venues and long stretches of green space. They also have a remarkably deadly history for pedestrians, a fact not lost on Joel Ruben as he ambled across Broadway.

Ruben, 88, stood on the sidewalk and looked north into four lanes of traffic heading his way. As other pedestrians inched into the street against the “Don’t walk” sign, looking to get a head start on the green light, Ruben hung back until he had the “Walk” sign. “I’m very careful,” he said after reaching the other side, a few seconds after “Don’t walk” began flashing red.

For good reason: At least a dozen pedestrians aged 66 to 93 have been killed within a 10-block radius of this spot since 2001, highlighting what transportation experts say is a nationwide problem confronting cities that for decades designed streets for fast-moving vehicles.

What they didn’t consider was the aging of America, a trend laid bare by the 2010 census and now presenting cities — especially pedestrian-heavy ones like New York — with a problem.

“Streets are no longer primarily for moving traffic as quickly as possible. That’s a very 1950s notion of middle America,” said Noah Budnick, the deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, a New York research and advocacy group. “Our streets are where we live in this city, and walking is the primary mode of how people get around. But older people simply don’t have enough time to cross the street.”

Transportation for America, based in Washington, highlighted the issue last month in “Dangerous By Design,” a study of traffic fatalities from 2000 through 2009. Nationwide, people 65 and older make up 13% of the population but represent about 22% of pedestrian deaths.

Both organizations link the disproportionate number of elderly victims to street plans that failed to anticipate a number of social shifts in the country: the first of the 78 million baby boomers turning 65 this year; more retirees moving to urban areas; people living longer; and walking being the main form of exercise for the elderly.

The 2010 census showed growth in the percentage of middle-aged and elderly people far outpacing those 45 and younger. By 2030, the 65-plus crowd is expected to account for 19% of the nation’s population.

“We’re going to see lots more people living to 85 and beyond,” said David Goldberg of Transportation for America. “The impact of having designed our communities so totally around being able to drive for your every need is going to be felt in a very significant way.”

Read the full article at the LA Times website.

NEWS: Round Rock Non-Profit Campus hosts local social services, including AGE!

From Community Impact

By Samantha Bryant Friday, 02 April 2010

ROUND ROCK — Round Rock is one step closer to having a central location for a cluster of nonprofit organizations. The Greater Round Rock Community Foundation is working on a plan to create a nonprofit campus on East Main Street, just east of the intersection of Georgetown and Main streets.

City of Round Rock Communication Director Will Hampton said the Community Foundation has not yet submitted a proposal, but the city has recommended a Planned Unit Development for the site and has encouraged the organization to come to a consensus with the neighborhood association. No timetable has been set for the project.

Trisun Healthcare donated 5 acres of the land to the foundation in 2008, with the caveat that the property be used to serve the community, Greater Round Rock Community Foundation Executive Director Kami Barron said.

“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “It is something that the nonprofit community has been discussing for over a decade.”

Nyle Maxwell, chair of the board of directors of the Community Foundation, said the project fulfills the organization’s mission: to promote philanthropy and causes in the community.

With its land donation, Trisun stipulated that Hope Alliance, a nonprofit that works to prevent family violence and sexual assault, would be able to move its administrative offices and a women’s and children’s shelter to the property.

Design consultant Chris Huggins of Huggins/Seiler & Associates LP, said the conceptual plan includes space for Hope Alliance, Williamson-Burnet County Opportunities and a nonprofit incubator with office space for either existing or new nonprofits.

Huggins said WBCO would be the first organization to move to the property and would rent part of its space to Austin Groups for the Elderly for their adult day healthcare program. WBCO would also use the building to operate a Head Start program, in which the organization will work with families to prepare their children for success in school, Director of Development Scott Ferguson said.

Read more and see specs here!