The National Complete Streets Coalition was in St. Louis, MO last month for the New Partners for Smart Growth conference. While we were there we had a chance to collaborate with AARP St. Louis, the local chapter of our Steering Committee member AARP. AARP St. Louis is working to improve walkability, increase transportation options, and encourage healthy, active living, especially for people aged 50 and older, and we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the great work they’re doing in St. Louis.
AARP St. Louis is committed to connecting people with their communities, and one of their most popular events is the Breakfast Bunch, a series of Saturday morning excursions that provide the opportunity to mingle, exercise, and become more comfortable using public transit. Each month, AARP leads participants on a walking and transit trip to a new breakfast destination, simultaneously promoting community engagement, physical activity, and awareness of local transit options.
Another recurring event that inspires both active living and local connections is Boomers & Bikes, a group bike ride that is equal parts exercise and education, teaching participants how to safely navigate public streets by bike. These bike rides culminate each summer with the annual Moonlight Ramble when 5,000 people, many over the age of forty-five, gather for a midnight bike ride through St. Louis. “These kind of events provide the means to stay physically active or come back to it,” said Sheila Holm, Associate State Director of Community Outreach at AARP Missouri.
AARP St. Louis has also taken great strides to help people take advantage of public transit and also to have a voice in improving it. They partnered with Citizens for Modern Transit to perform a series of walking audits at three local MetroLink stations. The objective of the audits was to activate the space around these transit hubs, enhancing sense of place and connectivity to other modes of transportation. As a follow-up to this project, AARP and Citizens for Modern Transit are co-hosting an exciting event in May: the Great Race and Metro Market. This event will celebrate improvements to Forest Park MetroLink station, one of the multi-modal hubs that benefitted from AARP’s walking audits. The race combines transit, bicycling, and car sharing, culminating in a community event at the newly improved MetroLink station.
This is only a brief snapshot of all the amazing work that AARP St. Louis is doing to help older populations re-engage with their neighborhoods in a more social and active way. AARP also has many valuable national resources available online, including:
- The Livability Index scores neighborhoods around the country based on seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transit, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity
- A series of Livability Fact Sheets available in both English and Spanish. The fact sheets debunk common myths and share strategies for success as well as case studies on a number of topics including biking, sidewalks, traffic calming, and revitalization without displacement
- Complete Streets in the States: A Guide to Legislative Action is an in-depth breakdown of model language for Complete Streets legislation at the state level. It also includes scores and summaries of statewide Complete Streets policies and provides links to relevant resources in each state
- Finally, AARP was proud to sponsor Dangerous by Design, Smart Growth America’s report examining pedestrian safety in cities and states nationwide
Thanks so much to everyone who joined us at the New Partners conference, and to Sheila Holm and the rest of the AARP St. Louis team for their wonderful work. Visit http://local.aarp.org/saint-louis-mo/ to learn more.