In 2034, the elderly population will account for 30% of Hong Kong’s total population, which will be doubled the population in 2014. Since the elderly population are more vulnerable to health issues caused by air pollution, it is important to implement elderly-friendly communities in Hong Kong.
According to the World Health Organization Framework “Global Elderly-Friendly Construction to Build the City,” providing appropriate health services that are easily accessible can make the elderly feel at ease. In particular, other cities should learn from the “Safe Street for Seniors” Scheme, a scheme developed by the Department of Transportation in New York City which focuses on improving the existing community design.
CAN offers the following recommendations:
- In addition to the construction of barrier-free facilities and lifts, it is also important to take into consideration vision deterioration experienced by the elderly. It is necessary to change the existing car-oriented urban planning mindset, and instead, establish a pedestrian-oriented community;
- According to the proportion of Hong Kong’s elderly population, areas with an aging population should implement effective schemes such as New York City’s“Safe Street for Seniors” Scheme;
- Appropriate community design must be implemented, which is heavily dependent on the situation of the district. Examples include displaying the number of seconds in traffic lights, widening corner crossing footpaths in order to narrow the distance to cross the road, reducing the number of lanes to limit traffic congestion, designing characteristic speed limits for certain streets, or even creating a pedestrian area will help improve the vehicle-pedestrian conflict.
Since the establishment of Safe Streets for Seniors, New York has a reduction of 39-68% in pedestrian casualty rates. Speed 30 would reduce 6.5% driving miles which help reducing emissions of 5.6% NO and 5.5% volatile organic compounds. This shows that similar ideas would also make positive impacts in Hong Kong.