100 Year of Walking – Safety Considerations for All Users
This article is part of a larger series of interviews with Mr. Donald Bean. For the full series, click here.
Some people may say that walking on a daily basis like Mr. Bean does is impossible in their communities and sadly they may be right. Safe and well-maintained physical environments are important to making walking available as a mode of transportation and as a form of physical activity. Walking provides an easily accessible and free transportation alternative that allows community residents to access work, school, recreation and other goods and services. When it is not made safe or convenient, residents are not afforded equitable access to these things as other communities.
There are many components that need to be considered in making sure that community residents are encouraged and comfortable walking. Well-maintained sidewalks, safely marked crosswalks and smart street design all play a part in creating an environment that promotes walking as a mode of transportation. Beside a safe physical environment there are other things that make a community accessible to walking. A sense of neighborhood can play a role in creating a sense of safety as people walk through communities and so opportunities to engage with residents is critical. Also important are education and programs promoted by local governments, police and other agencies that demonstrate a city’s commitment to creating safe and healthy residents. All of these elements play a part in making walking a real choice for individuals.
For Mr. Bean, creating a walkable community takes place in his home as well as his neighborhood. Like many differently abled Americans, Mr. Bean cannot take his daily walks without some assistance. The assistance of his fabulous aide Paula and some more practical assistance in the form of his walker. When he is taking his walks he generally uses a 4-wheeled walker that is stable enough to support him and also has pouches for his belongings and a seat for any rest needed along the way. When he is in his home or travelling to places where there is less space, like the theatre, he takes an easy to maneuver 3-wheeled walker. Mr. Bean even has a walking aide for when he is spending time on the beach with his family. No matter the situation or the surface, Donald Bean continues to make the choice to walk. Aside from some poor weather, there doesn’t seem to be a way to curb his walking. Even though he us unable to walk unassisted, he still chooses physical activity over a sedentary life and attributes this activity to his long and healthy life, turning 100 in June of 2016. Mr. Bean’s dedication to maintaining this routine is a testament to the importance of every American to make walking part of their daily life.
Recommended Resources for Additional Information
- AARP Sidewalks and Streets Survey (AARP)
- Every Body Walk! Getting Started Guide (America Walks & Every Body Walk! Collaborative)
- Walk On: Strategies to Promote Walkable Communities (Prevention Institute)
- Webinar: Designing Places for People (America Walks)
- Webinar: Livable Communities for All Ages (America Walks & AARP)
- Webinar: Creating Walkable Communities: A Health in All Policy Approach Webinar (APHA)