Marketing to 50+ Year Old Americans

LCT Magazine
Posted on August 13, 2008
For Immediate Release                 
August 13, 2008                              


Washington, DC –A new poll by AARP finds that while many Americans ages 50+ are trying to move away from car transportation as a result of high gas prices, their attempt to go "green” is challenged by inadequate sidewalks and bike lanes, as well as insufficient public transportation options.  "More Americans age 50+ are trying to leave their cars behind but face obstacles as soon as they walk out the door, climb on their bikes or head for the bus,” said Elinor Ginzler, AARP Senior Vice President for Livable Communities.

Almost one of every three people (29%) polled say they are now walking as a way to avoid high gas prices.  But as those people set out to walk, almost 40% of the 50+ population say they do not have adequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods. Additionally, 44% say they do not have nearby public transportation that is accessible. Almost half (47%) of poll responders say they cannot cross the main roads safely – 4 in 10 pedestrian fatalities are over the age of 50. *

There's good news and bad news for Americans age 50+ looking to change their travel habits.  In many states, the pedestrian fatality rate of those over age 65 is far above the national average. The worst states for pedestrian fatalities over age 65 are (in order) Hawaii, Alaska, New York, California, New Mexico, Delaware, New Jersey, Florida, Washington, DC and Arizona according to AARP's analysis of government pedestrian fatality data.  Many states, cities and towns are looking for ways to solve this problem by adopting "complete streets” policies.  The Columbus, Ohio city council just passed a complete streets resolution on July 29th and both Decatur, Georgia and Seattle Washington adopted complete streets policies this spring. 

"Complete streets enable pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit riders to share the road safely with automobiles,” said Elinor Ginzler, AARP's Senior Vice President for Livable Communities.  "More cities and states are adopting policies requiring their transportation agencies to ensure that roads are routinely designed or redesigned for all modes of travel.
And instituting these new standards makes it safer for residents of all ages,” she stated.

"Some cities like Sacramento, California and Kirkland, Washington are ahead of the curve,” said Ginzler. "They have extra-wide sidewalks, flowered medians and flashing lights embedded in crosswalks at busy intersections. Bike lanes and bus stops line even some of the town's busiest streets. These amenities allow residents to be safer pedestrians and commuters and even help the flow of vehicle traffic.”

At the national level, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), led efforts in the U.S. Senate to develop safer, comprehensively designed streets.  Harkin introduced the bipartisan Complete Streets Act of 2008 (S. 2686) this spring.  Senate cosponsors include Senators Thomas Carper (D-DE) and Norm Coleman (R-MN).  Representative Doris Matsui (D-C
A) took a significant step for safer streets in May by introducing the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2008 (H.R. 5951) in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT) cosponsors the bipartisan bill. The bills would ensure that roads built and improved with federal funds safely serve everyone using the roadway -- including pedestrians, people on bicycles or those catching the bus, as well as those with disabilities.  This is the first time that comprehensive complete streets bills have been introduced in the House and Senate.  AARP is a member of the Complete Streets Coalition supporting these bills. For more information on gas prices and complete streets, go to

*The telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,006 Americans age 50 and older was conducted for AARP between July 9 and July 15, 2008 by International Communications Research, Inc.  The sampling error is +/- 3.09 percent.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 33 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 39 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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