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Suburbs are not for Grandmas

109756385_a9bd923687_m A recent article in the Globe and Mail points out a real planning issue for our times…

The suburbs weren’t built for grandmas – and that’s a planning problem for sprawling cities, experts say, when one in five Canadians will be old enough to be a grandparent by 2021.

globeandmail.com: The aging problem of suburbia

With infrastructure built for a driving population, elderly people just won’t get out of their homes as much, and will rely on others to come to them, for food, cleaning, medical assistance and every other type of product or service.

Are the suburbs and our existing housing stock really up to providing this sort of service? One elderly person quoted in the article says,

It takes her an hour door-to-door to travel by bus for a bag of milk, but the buses lower their doors, and she says the drivers are always thoughtful. Once a month, she gets a ride to the grocery store, and twice a month, a housecleaner handles the bigger chores. Her children, who live out of town, take good care of her. The library drops off book orders at her apartment building, an endeavour she helps organize. She belongs to a seniors club and a theatre group that takes in matinees.

Some of my thoughts on the matter…

  • Speed limits should be lowered in residential areas so that elderly people can take a walk safely,
  • areas without sidewalks should dedicate  part of the road to bikes, walking and seniors scooters, and
  • pedestrian crossings should be timed for the elderly to safely make it across without danger.

What would you need in your suburb if you couldn’t drive anymore?

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.