Three California Communities Make Neighborhoods More Walkable for Seniors

Developing walkable neighborhoods for seniors

From 2002 to 2005, the California Center for Physical Activity helped three communities promote safe and accessible neighborhood walking routes for seniors. The center is a partnership of the California Department of Health Services and the University of California, San Francisco, Institute for Health and Aging.

To carry out the project (called Walkable Neighborhoods for Seniors), the center selected organizations in Sacramento, Los Angeles and Oakland/Alameda County to lead groups of citizens, elected officials and staff of community agencies in advocating for environmental and policy changes to foster walking by seniors.

Key Results

  • Each site achieved different results as they worked toward the common goal of making neighborhoods more walkable for seniors:

    • United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County formed 12 walking groups with over 250 participants and inaugurated a Healthy Living Festival attended by 700 seniors and their families in 2004. This project is continuing with strong citizen involvement and financial support from businesses and foundations.
    • The Sacramento project organized two walking groups, one in a low-income, African-American neighborhood. To improve the walking environment in the low-income neighborhood, members of the walking group applied for and received support from Rebuilding Together to renovate 15 homes along a walking route that had been littered with debris. Walking group members owned eight of the 15 homes.
    • In a largely Latino area of East Los Angeles, the Boyle Heights project coordinated a Senior Health and Fitness Day and created a Neighborhood Pedestrian Improvement Plan. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority is using the plan to design a light rail transit stop for the area.