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Streets should benefit all, seniors say


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POSTED: Sunday, March 22, 2009

Two out of three Oahu residents age 50 and older favor designing streets for all who use them—not just drivers.

This was among findings of a survey commissioned by AARP to seek opinions of Oahu residents ages 50-plus on the need for so-called “;complete streets”; serving walkers, bikers, bus riders and other users, as well as drivers.

The worst problems, said those interviewed, are heavy traffic and streets needing repair.

Hawaii had 27 pedestrian deaths in 2007, placing seventh nationally in pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population, according to AARP.

Nationally, a pedestrian was hit and killed by a motorist almost every two hours in 2007, totaling 4,654 fatalities, with 40 percent age 50 or older.

The National Complete Streets Coalition advocates for streets and roads designed for safe use by people of all ages and abilities, according to AARP, a member of the organization and part of its steering committee.

“;Complete streets”; include bike lanes, sidewalks, special bus lanes, transit stops, frequent crossing opportunities, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals and curb extensions.

Fewer than half of 800 Oahu residents interviewed randomly by telephone said they are “;extremely or very satisfied”; with streets in their community in terms of safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, lighting, traffic signals and crosswalks, AARP reported.

More than half are “;extremely or very likely”; to support a “;complete streets”; policy, and another 22 percent said they would be “;somewhat likely”; to support such a policy.

Only 11 percent said they are unlikely to support a “;complete streets”; policy, AARP said.

It said the 50-plus residents surveyed had lived on Oahu an average of 28 years and appear “;rooted in their community and want to stay there.”;

Seven in 10 residents said it is “;extremely or very important”; for them to remain in their community.

“;They also think it is a good place for older people to get around and remain active,”; AARP said.

Most residents 50 and older said streets in their communities have adequate lighting, sidewalks, crosswalks and access to public transportation, but only four in 10 said bike accommodations were adequate.

One in four Oahu residents age 50 and older walks to get around the community, while four out of five drive when they want to go somewhere.

“;Very few”; 50-plus residents report riding a bike to get around the community, using community vans for seniors, taxis or a boat shuttle.

Opinion Access Corp. conducted the telephone survey for AARP on Oahu from Oct. 9 to 19.