Public transportation aids the mobility of aging Americans

The movement away from walkable communities throughout the 20th Century has had a starkly negative effect on most people’s lives.  Aging Americans have been especially vulnerable to these trends, often finding themselves isolated from social interaction and physical activity. Without access to safe and pedestrian-friendly streets, the elderly are at risk of becoming disengaged from society at large.

Transportation agencies responsible for street design are potentially the most influential force in shaping the American landscape and could become potential partners in creating more walkable and livable communities.  To help forge a working partnership between transportation planners and older citizens, PPS has partnered with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to publish three books about streets and transportation. The publications are a joint effort of PPS’s “Building Community Through Transportation” initiative— which promotes transportation policies and practices that create walkable, healthy and sustainable places—and AARP’s “Livable Communities” initiative, which aims to ensure affordable and appropriate housing for older Americans, along with supportive community design features and good mobility options. As part of the series, PPS will also present a series of webinars for AARP volunteers and the general public. Here are the three new books:

A Citizen’s Guide to Better Streets: How to Engage Your Transportation Agency, the first in the three-part series, outlines effective ways of interacting with transportation agencies.

The second in the series, Streets as Places, teaches citizens how to lobby for streets that serve all users with lively, walkable, community-friendly environments.

The third, The Quiet Revolution in Transportation Planning: How Great Corridors Make Great Communities, describes how planning within the broader context of a transportation corridors—rather than a narrow focus on roads—can benefit both mobility needs and community quality of life.

The PPS/AARP partnership will enable older Americans to communicate effectively with local transportation agencies, and help them play an active role in making local streets safer and more conducive to community goals.

The Great Neighborhood Book

For more than 30 years, a major thrust of PPS’ work has been proving that neighborhood residents have the knowledge and resources needed to make major improvements to the places where they live. We recently put all we’ve learned into a practical manual for community activists, The Great Neighborhood Book, written by PPS Senior Fellow and former Utne Reader editor Jay Walljasper and published by New Society Publishers.

Drawing on the extraordinary experience of what’s been accomplished in ordinary neighborhoods from Sacramento to suburban Milwaukee to Zurich, the book offers handy tips about reducing traffic, promoting local business, fighting crime, greening the environment, and restoring a lively sense of place. Nearly every single idea in the book is backed up with an account of how real citizens made it happen in their communities. Sprinkled throughout The Great Neighborhood Book are inspiring “Success Stories,” which detail how people like you have made a big difference in the places they live.

You can order the book directly from PPS’ bookstore.