Urban design for the not-so-average

Wide footpath in a shopping strip which has a veranda overhead. There are planter boxes and a seat.How fast can you get across a pedestrian crossing? The Department of Health says the average walking speed required is 1.2 metres per second, but the average speed of the older pedestrian is just 0.7 to 0.9 metres per second, according to an article in The Guardian. But we need urban design for the not-so-average.

Cities are designed with a mythical average person in mind, but this so-called average is getting older. Have designers updated their data on this? The article discusses many issues that have been mentioned elsewhere: older people having problems getting outdoors; time to sit down; a bus driver who lets you sit before moving off; and of course, uneven pavements – or no pavements at all.

Global Network of Age Friendly Cities

Across the world 258 cities have signed up to the World Health Organisation’s Global Network of Age Friendly Cities. One has to ask “only 258?” The Guardian article questions the approaches of urban designers. It has links to other useful references. 

Norway takes a universal design approach to the WHO Age Friendly Cities Guide and given it an update.