Cracked pavements ‘restricting older people from walking’

Potholes in pavements are restricting older people from walking on local streets, new research suggests.

A survey of 1,012 adults aged at least 65 indicated that 31% say cracked or uneven pavements limit the amount of walking they do.

Other problems which hinder people taking a stroll in their local community include obstructions on pavements (24%), people driving too quickly on roads (22%), a lack of resting places (17%) and too much traffic (15%).

The poll found that getting exercise, being out of the house and fresh air are among the things older people enjoy most about walking in local streets.

Joe Irvin, chief executive of charity Living Streets – which commissioned the research, said: “Walking regularly can be an antidote to isolation, helping to reduce the risk of depression and dementia.

“If we all viewed our streets through the lens of an older adult – or a child, a wheelchair user or someone living with sight loss – we would soon begin to understand how unfit for purpose a lot of them are.

“Having well-maintained and clear pavements would help older adults walk more.

“We want local authorities to be reassessing their streets and seeing how they could be made better for people aged nine and 90 – and therefore better for everyone.”

Fabian Society Conference
Transport Minister Jesse Norman said local roads have historically been ‘a poor relation’ in terms of funding (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said last week that local roads are “not in great shape” as they have historically been “a poor relation” in terms of transport funding.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “Councils are fixing a pothole every 17 seconds, but funding challenges remain for local authorities to deal with long-term maintenance of their local roads and pavements.

“This is why we have called on the Government to also invest the equivalent of 2p of existing fuel duty to bring our roads up to scratch.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “The Government recognises the importance of ensuring the local environment is convenient, safe and attractive to walk in, including keeping pavements in good order.

“We have provided local authorities with more than £6.6 billion for roads maintenance and pothole repair in the six years to 2021, as well as around £2 billion to encourage cycling and walking.”

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