For Immediate Release
Hendersonville Walking Event to Support Safety
and Improve Walking Conditions for Seniors
The Walk Wise, Drive Smart program will officially launch this Saturday, May 13th, with a community walk beginning at Jackson Park.
The community walk is intended to raise awareness of the need for improved walking conditions for senior pedestrians, and to encourage walking among Hendersonville residents of all ages. Open to the public, the event features three walks of varying lengths and for people of all ages and walking levels, each walk beginning at Shelter 2 in Jackson Park. The kick-off event begins at 9 a.m. Saturday.
“The goal for the year-long Walk Wise, Drive Smart program is to improve the walking environment in Hendersonville to enable residents, especially senior adults, to enjoy physically and mentally healthy activities, to be better connected to the community and to choose to be less dependent upon an automobile,” said Bill Hunter, program director for Walk Wise, Drive Smart.
Walk Wise, Drive Smart is part of Henderson County’s Livable and Senior Friendly Communities Initiative, a project of the Henderson County Council on Aging.
Hendersonville City Manager Chris Carter will be speaking at the kick-off event about ways community residents and officials are helping shape plans for creating a safer and more inviting walking environment in Hendersonville.
All attendees will receive a choice of walk friendly giveaways, such as bright t-shirts, hats and retro-reflective wrist bands, as well as a pedometer from the AARP. There will also be drawings for gift certificates to both Piggy’s and Sinbad restaurants, gift certificates to R.C. Fisher Goldsmith Jewelers and Bella Diva's Day Retreat and tickets for two to the Biltmore Estate.
The Walk Wise, Drive Smart program plans to implement the “four E’s” over the upcoming year; environment, education, enforcement and encouragement. These consist of improving the walking environment, educating the public about the benefits of walking, advocating the enforcement of laws that will improve pedestrian safety and encouraging walking within the community.
Walk Wise, Drive Smart also will target smart drivers at upcoming events by positively rewarding motorists for proper driving behaviors.
"The City of Hendersonville Police Department will provide support and encouragement for this older pedestrian safety program," Hendersonville Police Chief Donnie Parks said. "We look forward to working with the Walk Wise, Drive Smart program to be proactive in providing safety messages to both motorists and pedestrians in the city of Hendersonville.”
The kick-off event follows a series of workshops that took place this spring in Hendersonville. The initial workshop, Safe Routes for Seniors, gathered local residents and community leaders to identify barriers and stimulate action plans for teaching pedestrian safety, constructing wider sidewalks, working with law enforcement to slow traffic and initiating walking clubs and contests.
The other workshop, conducted April 10-11, resulted in an audit of a Hendersonville neighborhood, and an accompanying report that listed what could be done to improve the neighborhood. Feet First, a non-profit organization that promotes walking and advocates for pedestrian rights, led the walking audit of Hyman Heights neighborhood, along with its residents, to receive their immediate feedback and concerns. The day after the audit, Feet First prepared and presented a summary report to local government agencies, developers and community groups.
Next to driving or riding in cars, walking is the most frequent mode of transportation for senior adults. However, senior pedestrians have a greater chance of suffering serious or fatal injuries if involved in a crash than younger pedestrians. More than 31 percent of Hendersonville’s population is age 65 and older, making it an ideal model community for the Walk Wise, Drive Smart program.
Improving the pedestrian environment in Hendersonville will benefit not only senior adults but also all residents and visitors. The success of the Walk Wise, Drive Smart program depends on the involvement of the entire community and the support of our partners at a state and local level, said Hunter.
“I hope the public will join me in supporting this worthwhile project,” Parks said. “The success of this program will benefit everyone immensely."
Walk Wise, Drive Smart is a neighborhood-based, senior-pedestrian-friendly initiative within Hendersonville, NC, and the surrounding areas. Building upon established community relationships and based on community input, the program aims to create more pedestrian-friendly environments for senior adults that can be replicated in similar settings in North Carolina and beyond. Please visit www.walk-wise.org for further information.