Tag Archives: Walking to transit

Safe Streets and Walkability for Seniors

28 Jul

A recent article on curbed.com brings attention to the issue of walkability for our growing older adult population.  Older adults surveyed by A Place for Mom said that it was important for them to live in a walkable neighborhood.

But in many communities being able to do so safely is an issue of design.  The traditional multi-generational communities that the survey also showed older adults preferred are not always age friendly and need to do some more work on road safety.  Some of the issues identified in a Transportation Alternatives, Safe Routes for seniors article are:  pavement is uneven and there are obstacles that could lead to tripping, seniors are unable to cross with the walk cycle, and cars do not stop for seniors walking in the crosswalk.  Because of these design issues, many seniors find themselves isolated because they don’t feel safe going out, walking or biking.  And their fear is not unfounded, an NJ State police report shows that in 2016, 166 pedestrians lost their lives, and 44 of them were 65 and older.

In some communities, like ours, there are car services available for seniors such as our Ride Provide program and the Princeton Crosstown Service. These help seniors get to a doctor appointment and do their grocery shopping, and socialize. And while this is a great service, seniors should be able to just go out for a casual walk in their community without worrying about tripping or being able to cross the street. After all leading an active lifestyle improves their quality of life.

So how can we make that possible? The Safe Routes for Seniors intiative had the following recommendations:

  • Make streets flat and have smooth transitions to the curb
  • Install shelters and benches at bus stops
  • Create wide median refuge area with benches and shelters on wide streets
  • Extend crosswalk
  • Add more pedestrian space
  • Drivers should be required to stop 15 feet from a junction

Given the fact that more and more seniors want to continue living in their communities, making these changes would make that possible.

Regardless of whether such accommodations are available, seniors who want to go out for a walk should always keep in mind the following safety tips:

  • Use paths and sidewalks when available
  • Plan your routes so you have crosswalks and crossing signals
  • If you can’t tell how much time you have to cross the street, wait for one light cycle and cross when you get a “fresh green”
  • When crossing the street look right, left, and right again
  • Look for traffic even if you are crossing with the light
  • When crossing, pay extra attention at the curb, drivers may not be able to see you until you are on the roadway
  • Be careful in parking lots, look for backup lights and engine noise
  • Wear bright clothes
  • Walk with a friend so you can watch for each other

And drivers can also help make our communities safer for pedestrians no matter their age by following these practices:

  • Follow posted speed limits
  • Lookout for pedestrians and stop at crosswalks
  • Look for pedestrians before you back out of alleyways and parking lots
  • Do not pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk
  • Do not drive while intoxicated

These small changes can help make our communities more accessible to seniors, more “age friendly,” and safer for everyone.

 

Sources:

https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/olddrive/SteppingOut/getting_started_safely.html

https://www.transalt.org/files/news/reports/2009/Safe_Routes_for_Seniors.pdf

https://www.transalt.org/issues/pedestrian/safeseniors

http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/pedestrian-safety/tips-pedestrian-safety/

https://www.curbed.com/2017/7/25/16025388/senior-living-walkability-survey

 

Is It the Low Gas Prices?

9 Sep

The latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures show a large increase in the number of traffic fatalities in the last year. A total of 35,092 people lost their life in traffic crashes, an increase of 7.2% since 2014. The total number includes drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  The previous trend of declining traffic deaths has been reversed in 2015 and the main reason cited was increased driving due to the low fuel prices. And according to a CDC study, U.S. now has the highest traffic deaths when compared to other high-income countries.

So is it really just the low gas prices? Not really. Low gas prices led to an increase in the number of people driving, but it didn’t cause the crashes. The CDC study shows that too many people are behaving recklessly, speeding, driving while intoxicated and not always using their seatbelt.

In addition, poor transit options and street design that prioritizes cars over humans also play a big role. And that’s why supporters of Complete Streets policy and Vision Zero are gaining ground in more and more places across United States. Designing our streets to be safer can reduce the instances of traffic deaths by lowering the speed limit, giving pedestrians and bicyclists safe access, and allowing public transit to run on time.

Until we have safer streets and better transit options, we can help change the trend by driving carefully and looking out for each other whether you are a driver, a cyclist, or a pedestrian.

Sources:

http://nacto.org/2016/08/31/traffic-deaths/

https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/motor-vehicle-safety/index.html

http://www.curbed.com/2016/9/1/12737230/streets-traffic-deaths-pedestrians

http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/traffic-fatalities-2015

What Do Transit Riders Want?

22 Jul

Transit Center recently released the results to the “Who’s on Board 2016. What Today’s Riders Teach Us About Transit That Works” study and there are some interesting findings and recommendations to note.  The foundation conducted the study with the purpose of better understanding the needs and the behavior of transit riders across the United States.

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Some of the Findings:

The terms “choice riders” and “captive riders” currently used to describe transit riders are not accurate. Many people use transit occasionally, 53% of the respondents indicated that they use transit between one day a week and one day per month. Fourteen percent of the interviewees indicated that they were commuters, and 32% said they were using transit for multiple purposes.

People who live and work in areas with better transit ride more frequently, whether they own a car or not. When transit service increases, people turn to transit more often and for multiple purposes.

In addition to good service, having stations within walking distance is seen as more likely to promote the use of transit for various purposes.

People who use transit for multiple purposes are also multimodal, meaning they ride a bike, walk, take a taxi, car share, and are more likely to use a non-car alternative.

The availability of “shared–use mobility” options increases the likelihood that more people will use transit.

The so-called “captive riders” (people who don’t have cars and are thought of as using transit regardless of quality) use transit less frequently when the service is poor.

People value service frequency and travel time the most; they value the condition of the stations and the stops, having real-time information, reliability, and care less about flashy design, and Wi-Fi on board.

Large numbers of Americans of all ages indicated that they would prefer to live in a mixed-use neighborhood with access to transit, but they don’t currently have that option.

Recommendations:

Enable more people to walk to reliable transit by making the walk safe and pleasant and concentrating developments around transit.

Have transit in walkable places with many residents and with destinations for people to visit.

Increasing frequency of service and reducing travel time.

How do we score?

We looked at how Mercer and Ocean counties score on AllTransit Performance by using the All Transit ranking tool which is available at http://alltransit.cnt.org/. The Ranking uses station, stop, and frequency of service for bus, rail for all major transit agencies.  It also looks at connectivity and access to jobs.

In Mercer County, we have 11.7 acres of walkable neighborhoods within half a mile of transit, 4.75% commute by walking and live within half a mile of transit. There are 254,247 people who live within a half of mile of transit and no one lives within half of mile of high-frequency transit.  The overall AllTransit Performance score for Mercer County (on a scale from 0 to 10) is 4.5., and 8.25% commuters use transit.

Mercer County total population in 2015 – 366,513

In Ocean County, there are 13 acres of walkable neighborhoods within half a mile if transit, .61% commute by bicycle, and 2.02% commute by walking and live within half a mile of transit. Overall there are 301,356 people who live within half a mile of transit and 2.18% commuters use transit. The AllTransit Performance score is 1.7.

Ocean County total population in 2015 – 576,567

More transit information is available at http://alltransit.cnt.org/ , including numbers of jobs near transit, the number of farmers markets, transit trips per week, etc.

As you can see, Mercer County scored much higher on its Transit Score than Ocean County. To put the scores in perspective to some other counties in New Jersey, both were far below the higher scoring counties like Hudson (9.08), Essex (7.67) and Bergen (6.57). Clearly, there is more work to be done to meet the needs of transit riders.

If you live in Mercer or Ocean County, and you need more transportation information check out Good Moves, a GMTMA program that offers personalized transportation plans.

Sources:

ma.org/pg-good-moves.php

http://alltransit.cnt.org/metrics/?addr=mercer+county%2C+nj

http://transitcenter.org/2016/07/12/what-makes-transit-successful-whos-on-board/