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Three Colorado Cities Make Top 10 in Livability Index

Strategies for making cities more livable include building sidewalks to make neighborhoods safer for walking. (Pixabay)
Strategies for making cities more livable include building sidewalks to make neighborhoods safer for walking. (Pixabay)
June 25, 2018

DENVER – Three Colorado cities made the top 10 in the updated AARP Livability Index, which ranks cities based on seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity.

Denver, Boulder and Lafayette each ranked fourth in their respective categories for large, mid-size and small cities.

Bob Murphy, state director of AARP Colorado, sees the index as a valuable tool to help city leaders and residents improve their communities and better meet the needs of people of all ages.

"Just scrape off that first layer of the overall score and you'll see the seven categories that go into it,” Murphy points out. “That's where you can really start to mine the data and see what's really strong about a neighborhood or a city, or see what can be helped."

Denver and Lafayette had strong scores for access to quality health care, and Boulder and Denver both ranked high for safe and convenient transportation options.

Areas cited for improvement include cleaning up the air and drinking water in Boulder and Lafayette, and reducing income inequality and increasing high school graduation rates in Denver.

Murphy explains improving livability can include making neighborhoods safer for walking by building sidewalks, rezoning to allow residential development close to retail and work spaces, and adding public transportation options.

He notes steps that might sound like small adjustments frequently require significant policy changes.

"Don't build an affordable senior housing center a mile from the nearest bus stop,” he stresses. “If you have a busy street, try to extend the time of that walk signal so folks can get across the street. Try to locate parks within a half mile walking distance of most people in the community."

The index, which was last updated in 2015, taps more than 50 national data sources for scores, and digs down into every neighborhood and community in the U.S.

Researchers found more communities are creating policies to improve livability, including more than 200 counties setting up funding mechanisms to support affordable housing strategies.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO