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Neglected D.C. Sidewalks Pose Threat To Seniors, Report Says

A new report finds that D.C. has a long backlog of sidewalks in need of repairs.
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A new report finds that D.C. has a long backlog of sidewalks in need of repairs.

While the District may seem focused on big projects such as the streetcar, little things also mean a lot to the city’s aging population, like repaired sidewalks.

The city has had a long backlog of sidewalks that need repair.

"A poorly maintained sidewalk is a tremendous barrier to a senior who is fearful of tripping and falling," says Cheryl Cort, policy director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth. The group has come out with a new 76-page report detailing what the District is doing right to help create what she calls “age-friendly environments.”

"Happily in the last budget, this was funded and we think that is a terrific move," Cort says. "The question is, are we going to continue to fund these sidewalk repairs so that in the future we don’t have these sorts of backlogs?"

When it comes to safety, the report says in 2013, four of the 12 pedestrians killed in D.C. were over the age of 65.

"The city has started to do streetscape improvements. When they reconstruct roadways and create curb extensions so they are actually shortening the distance that a pedestrian is exposed to the street, that is a very positive development," Cort says.

The report also details areas where improvement is needed. Only 31 percent of D.C. Metrobus stops are fully accessible to people with disabilities. Only 20 cabs are wheelchair accessible, less than 1 percent of the entire fleet, although more are coming on line thanks to an agreement between Metro and the D.C. Taxicab Commission.

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