What is "All Ages and Abilities"
What is meant by “all ages and abilities?” That question is concisely answered in the Federal Highway Administration’s document entitled Small Town and Rural Multimodal Networks. “All ages means that children as young as eight can walk and bike independently from their parents. It means that older adults can get around comfortably without a car. Facility needs vary by age, and there is no “one size fits all” solution. All abilities means that people using mobility devices or people with limited vision are not faced with barriers.” (page 1-8)
The document also defines “networks” as “interconnected pedestrian and/or bicycle transportation facilities that allow people of all ages and abilities to safely and conveniently get where they want to go. They provide equitable access for all people.” (ibid, page 1-11) The document provides a basis for evaluating the effectiveness of networks using the following:
COHESION – How connected is the network in terms of its concentration of destinations and routes?
DIRECTNESS – Does the network provide direct and convenient access to destinations?
ACCESSIBILITY – How well does the network accommodate travel for all users, regardless of age , income level, or ability?
ALTERNATIVES – Are there a number of different route choices available within the network?
SAFETY AND SECURITY – Does the network provide routes that minimize risk of injury, danger, and crime?
COMFORT – Does the network appeal to a broad range of age and ability levels and is consideration given to user amenities?
There aren’t any bicycle networks in Southern Oregon (including Ashland) that reasonably satisfy all of these measures. All fail to provide “accessibility,” “safety and security,” and “comfort” for all ages and abilities. That is because local bicycle networks rely largely, if not exclusively, on bike lanes on major roads and highways. Local, regional and State transportation agencies need to do more to ensure that the bicycle network is useful by more than the 1 percent of people who are “strong and fearless.”
The bicycle mode, where it is designed to meet the needs of “all ages and abilities,” can account for between 10 and 30 percent of all travel. That means less congestion, pollution, and expense for the purchase of gasoline. It would also contribute to a more active and healthy community. Importantly and I’m guessing, fewer roads would need capacity upgrades saving 100’s of millions of dollars over a 20 year period.