Remarks by Nancy LeaMond
Executive Vice President, State and National Group AARP
Press Briefing: 2014 Dangerous By Design report on pedestrian safety
I’m pleased to join you all today, on behalf of AARP, our 38 million members and people 50+.
Simply put, the streets in our communities are not working for older Americans. Pedestrian fatalities are rising – despite the fact that overall traffic fatalities has been declining.Older persons now account for one in every five pedestrian fatalities, and they have the greatest fatality rate of any population group.
Today, more than one in five 65 and older Americans, about 8 million, no longer drive – and they need a variety of options, including safe walking, to stay connected to their communities.
Too many seniors simply cannot safely walk, bike or take public transportation to their destinations. ….you shouldn’t need the athletic ability of a major league baseball player to be able to safely cross our streets.
And we’re not just concerned about the implications of this report for today – we have our eye toward the future.
By 2030, just 16 years from now, the 65 and older population will have doubled from what it is today – to more than 70 million.
All 50 States will see a rapid acceleration in the growth of their 65 and older populations.
By 2030, 10 states will actually have more 65 and older residents than school-age children. That’s never happened before in our nation’s history – in even one state.
We believe that America’s state, federal and community leaders should focus on making our streets safer – which will benefit everyone, including the rapidly growing population of older Americans.
A curb-cut designed for a wheelchair user also benefits a parent pushing a baby stroller. A crosswalk safe for a senior is a crosswalk safe for a child.
A community that is friendly for an 80 year-old can be friendly for an 8-year-old – and everyone else in between.
We know how to design safe streets – research shows that well-designed intersections, sidewalks, bike lanes and other features can significantly reduce injuries, deaths and automobile crashes. The federal government sets the tone for a national approach to safety. And we believe that Congress should address this critical issue by passing the Safe Streets Act as it renews the transportation law.
This bi-partisan legislation would require all states and local planning organizations to adopt safe streets policies for federally funded projects within two years.
It promotes smart planning and design and would establish basic guidelines for states and communities to ensure that any new construction is done right the first time — saving time and money.
The Safe Streets Act does not require any new money, nor does it require transportation agencies to use a particular roadway design — and it doesn’t tell highway engineers how to build individual projects.
It simply calls on the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as state and local transportation agencies that use federal funds, to adopt a policy that considers the safety of all users when they build new streets and roads or substantially rebuild existing ones.
The Safe Streets Act won’t fix all our roadway safety problems overnight.
But over time, our streets will be designed to be safer — and more people will be able to cross the street without crossing their fingers first.
Creating safe streets for Americans of all ages will be a key component in creating brighter and economically stronger futures for our nation’s communities