Report: New York’s Transit and Walkability Keys to Age-Friendly City

New York's transit system and walkable streets are the key to its senior-friendliness. Photo: ##

The best places to grow old aren’t in Florida or Arizona, according to a report released today by the Milken Institute, a California-based think tank. Phoenix’s woeful transportation system, which offers few travel options for people too old to drive everywhere, disqualifies that purported haven for retirees. No, the best places for the fast-growing 65-plus demographic are ones more like, well, New York City.

The greater New York metro area, which ranks fifth in the Milken Institute’s survey, is buoyed less by its world-class hospitals than by its transportation system, which earned a perfect 100-point score. Those who grow old in New York can easily maintain their independence thanks to a robust transit system. The city’s density means even people who can’t walk as far as they used to have access to neighborhood amenities, and its increasingly safe streets are especially important for this particularly vulnerable group of pedestrians.

The Milken Institute says its rankings provide the most comprehensive and data-driven view of what makes an aging-friendly city, using 78 quantitative indicators. New York’s high score is largely the result of its senior-friendly transportation network; it put up middling scores in many other categories and, predictably, fared quite poorly in terms of housing affordability. Utah’s Orem-Provo area, which boasts extremely healthy habits and relatively walkable towns, came in first.

New York may have a competitive edge over its rivals when it comes to competing for those who will, eventually, want to age in place, but the region can’t rest on its laurels. Though the AARP helped pass a state complete streets bill last year, many local governments still lack such a policy. Transit cuts, such as those in New York City and Nassau County, have left some seniors feeling stranded, and older New Yorkers are still disproportionately at risk of being killed in traffic crashes.

  • JamesR

    I live in NYC, but I’m going to put on my skeptic’s hat for a minute regarding this claim. The area that locals commonly refer to as ‘the city’ – Manhattan – actually strikes me as a rather rough place to be elderly. Why? Lack of ADA access at subway stations, a pace of life that can feel exhausting at times even for a 20 or 30 something like myself, and an outrageous cost of living that is even more onerous for someone on a fixed income. 

    I’d say that regardless of its particular amenities, the best place to grow old is one where you’ve got the type of connections to other people that you can rely upon when needed; whether they be family or close friends. These connections can be hard to find and even harder to maintain in a place as transient as this. 

  • i guess you can’t really including biking since it’s not yet possible for most normal people.

  • Ummmm

    Provo Orem is not walkable at all

  • Anonymous

    According to the New York Times, the biggest danger to senior citizens, is senior citizens like myself, demanding bicycle lanes and traffic calmed streets, so we can continue to ride our bicycles in New York City safely. There is a contradiction here but perhaps I’m now too senile to explain it. 😉

  • Kal992

    Noah,  I think you might really honestly pursue how vulnerable seniors are crossing bike lanes and what can be done about that.  The propaganda that your group and DOT indulge in is , really, very disingenuous and dangerous.

  • Anonymous

    Propaganda Ka1992? 
    Just look at the body counts: 200+ pedestrians run down by cars, trucks and buses each year.  Many of them senior citizens in crosswalks with the green light.Zero (0), REPEAT, ZERO, pedestrians killed by cyclists each year.Seniors vulnerable crossing the street? Why yes, they are.  To cars, buses and trucks.The data does not support your allegations that bike lanes are the hazard you claim they are.  Stop, look both ways, if it’s clear, cross.  That’s what my mother taught me to do every time I cross a street – or a bike lane. If you hate bicycles, it’s OK, just come out and say so.  I will respect you more if you are honest about simply hating cyclists and their bikes, than when you make up phony statistics trying to show how “dangerous” bicycles are.Then we can have a serious discussion about why you are upset by “near misses” or maybe it’s cyclists blocking your car, or maybe it’s just that you can’t stand seeing someone going faster than you are, while having so much fun doing it.


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