Footage: Senior citizen slowly crosses the road and warms the hearts of netizens
How Does a Senior Cross the Road? Walking Speed and Senior Safety
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How does a senior cross the road? Not safely enough, apparently.
According to a British study published last June in the journal Age and Ageing, many older people can’t walk fast enough to cross the road in the time allotted by automated traffic signals. The speed needed to make it through a timed pedestrian crossing is approximately 4 feet per second, which is an average for many places throughout the world, including the United States. The study found that men over 65 can walk an average of only 3 feet per second and women 2.5 feet per second. As we age, our walking speed becomes even slower. Overall, 76 only percent of men and 85 percent of women had a walking speed that was slower than needed to safely cross the street. If they had physical impairments, this number went up even higher.
Dr. Laura Asher of University College London, one of the authors of the study, noted that being able to cross roads safely is extremely important for older adults. “Walking provides regular exercise and direct health benefits. Being unable to cross a road may deter people from walking thereby reducing their access to social contacts and interaction and local health services and shops. All of these are important to everyday life," she wrote.
As seniors are encouraged to give up driving, walking becomes, for many, one of their primary modes of transportation. The combination of slower walking speed, perceptual difficulties and slower decision-making skills could make negotiating a multi-lane street, or one with too rapid a signal, a dangerous situation. “Older people are more likely to be hit by cars and more likely to die from their injuries than younger people,” said Asher.
A study indicating that New York ranked third highest for pedestrian fatalities among people 65 and older was an impetus to create bills requiring a “complete streets” approach to future highway planning. According to Will Stoner, AARP New York associate director of livable communities, “Complete streets require that whenever a road is rebuilt, repaved or resurfaced, the state transportation planners would take into account all modes of mobility, including walking and cycling." A Complete Streets bill signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo requires streets and roadways to be more accessible.
One example of ways to make street-crossing safer is to add curb extensions, also known as bulb-outs. These reduce the length of time a pedestrian is exposed to traffic and may slow down vehicle traffic. Crossing islands simplify a crossing by providing a break in the middle of the street.
Before summer ends, get out there and walk, and take into account walking speed and senior safety for the people you care for. Use common sense and these crossing rules when trying to get to the other side:
- Always remember to look left-right-left before you begin crossing, and glance over your shoulder for turning vehicles (for those in the UK, remember to make that right-left-right).
- Pay attention to traffic lights and pedestrian signals and be ready to cross when instructed.
- Don’t start crossing if the “Don’t Walk “signal is flashing, but if it starts when you are in the middle of the street, keep going across as you will have time to get to other side.
- Always look before you step off the curb. Even if you have the right of way and the Walk signal prompts you to go, be cautious of cars that may run the light.
- If possible, don’t venture out alone. Bring a friend to help negotiate the crossing.
Video: Old people crossing the road prank
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