Saturday, September 22, 2012

What Kind of Community Will Baby Boomers Want to Live In?

According to Hawaii Business Magazine, "[t]he first wave of baby boomers—approximately 80 million Americans who were born between 1946 and 1964—is turning 65 in 2011."  "Hawaii has the fastest growing age 65-plus population in the nation, expected to grow by 81 percent by 2030."

The World Health Organization (WHO) consulted with 35 cities from all continents (including, New York and Portland in North America).  Their work culminated in a 2007 report entitled, Global age-friendly cities: a guide.

Here is an excerpt from the Report entitled, Age-friendly outdoor spaces and buildings checklist:
  • The city is clean, with enforced regulations limiting noise levels and unpleasant or harmful odors in public places.
Green spaces and walkways
  • There are well-maintained and safe green spaces, with adequate shelter, toilet facilities and seating that can be easily accessed.
  • Pedestrian-friendly walkways are free from obstructions, have a smooth surface, have public toilets and can be easily accessed.
Outdoor seating
  • Outdoor seating is available, particularly in parks, transport stops and public spaces, and spaced at regular intervals; the seating is well-maintained and patrolled to ensure safe access by all.
  • Pavements are well-maintained, smooth, level, non-slip and wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs with low curbs that taper off to the road.
  • Pavements are clear of any obstructions (e.g. street vendors, parked cars, trees, dog droppings, snow) and pedestrians have priority of use. 
  • Roads have adequate non-slip, regularly spaced pedestrian crossings ensuring that it is safe for pedestrians to cross the road.
  • Roads have well-designed and appropriately placed physical structures, such as traffic islands, overpasses or underpasses, to assist pedestrians to cross busy roads.
  • Pedestrian crossing lights allow sufficient time for older people to cross the road and have visual and audio signals. 
  • There is strict enforcement of traffic rules and regulations, with drivers giving way to pedestrians. 
Cycle paths
  • There are separate cycle paths for cyclists.
  • Public safety in all open spaces and buildings is a priority and is promoted by, for example, measures to reduce the risk from natural disasters, good street lighting, police patrols, enforcement of by-laws, and support for community and personal safety initiatives.
  • Services are clustered, located in close proximity to where older people live and can be easily accessed (e.g. are located on the ground floor of buildings).
  • There are special customer service arrangements for older people, such as separate queues or service counters for older people.  
  • Buildings are accessible and have the following features: elevators, ramps, adequate signage, railings on stairs, stairs that are not too high or steep, non-slip flooring, rest areas with comfortable chairs, and sufficient numbers of public toilets.
Public toilets
  • Public toilets are clean, well-maintained, easily accessible for people with varying abilities, well-signed and placed in convenient locations. 
The above list appears to be consistent with good planning principles such as the City and County of Honolulu's Complete Streets Ordinance, transit-oriented development (TOD), and EPA's Smart Growth Principles.

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