Street scene can be key in fight for healthy ageing

24/11/2023
Chris Ames

A new study has highlighted the importance of good pavements and slower traffic in helping older people get outdoors more.

Participants in the study, who were aged between 60 and 91, said they faced barriers to staying active, including poorly designed and maintained streets and pavements and not enough road crossings, street lighting, parking or public transport.

High levels of traffic and ‘inconsiderate’ drivers were also cited as issues, although some participants felt that reducing access to cars could result in a loss of independence for older people with limited mobility, potentially contributing to isolation and loneliness.

Image credit Sustrans and McAteer Photography

The study was carried out for charity Sustrans with funding from Transport Scotland and led by Professor Alan Gow, who researches healthy ageing at Heriot-Watt’s Centre for Applied Behavioural Sciences.

He said: ‘It’s important to listen to the views of older people when considering how our neighbourhoods are designed, so that our environments can help us all to stay active.’

Karen McGregor, director of Sustrans in Scotland, said: ‘Access to green space and good public transport are seen as key enablers to staying active, alongside quieter streets.’

Some participants felt that better monitoring, such as cameras, would need to be put in place alongside traffic calming measures to make them effective.

Participants favoured lower impact traffic reduction measures such as one-way streets and bus gates, alongside improved pedestrian infrastructure and investment in public transport.

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