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Functional community ambulation: A comparison of elderly ambulators versus available cross-walk signal time

1 May 1994


This study compared walking velocity of 70 elderly individuals with the walking velocity required to ambulate commercial cross-walks in four western urban centers. Elderly individuals were defined as those over the age of 65 and the cities used for comparison were Portland, Oregon; Reno, Nevada; San Francisco, California; and Seattle, Washington. The purpose was to determine if selected standard commercial cross-walks in selected urban areas of the western United States allow enough time for the slower elderly population to cross safely. A standard cross-walk measurement was defined as the time allotted from when "WALK" is displayed until automotive traffic proceeds across the intersection. A standard cross-walk measurement does not take into account external factors or obstacles that may interfere with safe crossing. Results from the mean velocity of the 70 individuals tested showed that, as a group, the subject pool could safely navigate a standard cross-walk within the times allotted by each tested city. A non-standard cross-walk was defined as the time from when "DON'T WALK" was displayed to when the traffic light turned red and again traffic proceeded across the intersection. This measurement accounts for factors such as human obstacles, vehicular obstacles, or entering an intersection just as "DON'T WALK" is displayed. When a nonstandard cross-walk measurement was taken into account, the mean velocity of the 70 subjects was not sufficient enough for the subjects to navigate cross-walks in any of the cities that were represented.


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