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Perceptions of Safety Keep Older Adults from Transit

Pedestrian safetyA 2012 study of 772 adults in St. Louis assessed perceptions of the built environment and discovered that adults over 60 are significantly less likely to use public transportation than younger persons for 2 primary reasons:

  • Concerns about pedestrian safety at and around the stations due to speeding traffic
  • Perceived crime on the system

These perceptions tended to deter transit use even though the study also showed that people who used public transportation at least once a week were more likely to meet physical activity recommendations by walking to and from the stations.

The findings suggest that infrastructure and policy changes are needed to help older adults feel comfortable using public transportation.  A few suggested changes include:

  • Bus Shelters with seating
  • Improved lighting
  • Signange
  • Longer Crosswalk signals
  • Lowering traffic speeds along bus routes

You can find the results of this study in the July 3 journal of Preventing Chronic Disease, by J. Aaron Hipp, PhD and colleagues.  J. Aaron Hipp is Assistant Professor, Brown School; Investigator, Prevention Research Center in St. Louis; and Scholar, Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis.

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