Boston Celebrates Age-Friendly Bench Program

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, along with the City of Boston’s Age Strong Commission, Public Works, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, AARP, Tufts Health Plan Foundation and WalkBoston celebrated the Age-Friendly Bench program in Grove Hall. The program expands the number of benches across the city, with a particular focus on raising the availability of resting locations for older adults.

“These additional benches will make our streets more walkable, commutes more comfortable, and allow older residents access to areas of the City they enjoy. We’re installing them where we need them most: around our libraries, community centers, senior centers, main streets and business districts,” said Mayor Walsh. “Making our city Age Friendly means adapting our structures and services to provide accessibility and inclusion to residents of all ages and abilities.”

The City of Boston and WalkBoston conducted walk audits with older residents to determine the most suitable locations for the benches. The new benches were tested and approved by older adults for optimum comfort and to encourage independence and activity, grounded in the fundamental principle that safe and comfortable walking for seniors means a better walking environment for everyone.

“Benches are a critical part of age-friendly communities. Knowing that there are places to rest encourages people to walk further and more often – which helps people maintain their health and wellbeing,” said Wendy Landman, executive director of WalkBoston. “Benches provide older adults, and Bostonians of all ages, with places to rest and enjoy our public spaces. WalkBoston is thrilled that Boston now has a robust program to continue to provide more benches across the City.”

“I am so proud of these benches and want to thank the Mayor from bringing them to the community,” said Lillian O’Neal from Jamaica Plain. “They make it easier to get around since I can sit and take a rest in a comfortable space that supports my back and is easy to sit on and get out of.”

All benches adhere to ADA requirements and follow the City’s public realm guidelines. Public Works crews have begun installing them and the City will have 89 new age-friendly benches by the end of fall. Mayor Walsh committed $90,000 in FY19 to the program, and additional funding for the Age-Friendly bench program was provided by AARP and the Boston College Neighborhood Improvement Fund.

The creation of the bench program came from community feedback and is part of the Age-Friendly Boston Action Plan which details 75 concrete action items the City will take to become even more age friendly. Currently in its third year, it has already celebrated the successful launch of several action items including the City’s first pilot Senior Civic Academy; an interactive public restrooms map; an age- and dementia-friendly business designation; an employment guide for people over 50; and a rebrand of the Age Strong Commission to better reflect the community it serves.

To find current bench locations, please visit boston.gov/benches or call Boston 311.

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