A study of pedestrian fatalities from 2002 to 2006 showed senior citizens, ages 65 and older, made up about 12 percent of New York City’s population, but were involved in nearly 39 percent of the City’s fatal pedestrian accidents.
With senior populations expected to nearly double over the next 25 years, city officials are taking proactive steps to protect their safety on the city’s streets, including in the Bronx.
Earlier this year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced “Safe Streets for Seniors,” a pedestrian safety initiative designed to re-envision travel patters for the city’s older population.
“Making our streets safe is a priority on all fronts, whether we’re continuing to provide the NYPD the resources they need to fight crime, or using the latest technology and innovation programs to traffic fatalities,” Bloomberg said.
As the largest program of its kind in the country, the initiative identified 25 city neighborhoods that have both a high density of senior citizens and a high number of pedestrian accidents or injuries.
Engineers will evaluate pedestrian conditions such as visibility, lighting, drivers’ compliance with traffic and pedestrian signals and the width of the roadway in order to make necessary changes to ensure senior safety.
Fordham/University Heights serves as the Bronx’s pilot area and will be the first neighborhood in the borough to receive any changes, beginning in July.
Community Board 7 district manager Fernando Tirado said he’s glad such an initiative is coming to the Bronx.
“The community outreach and the fact that DOT is taking this issue seriously is a huge benefit to the area,” he said.
Alterations such as extending pedestrian crossing times at crosswalks and shortening crossing distances, altering curbs and sidewalks, restricting vehicle turns and narrowing roadways are all possibilities for the chosen areas.
Tirado said such changes are extremely necessary, referencing Norwood resident Anna Rogivan, 91, who was struck by an 18-wheeler and lost both her legs on March 14.
Rogivan was crossing E. Gun Hill Road at the corner of DeKalb Avenue when the truck stuck her, adding her name to the yearly list of victimized seniors.
Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island will also each receive a designated pilot area, with the remaining 20 locations to get similar safety surveys and upgrades soon thereafter. Those areas include the Bronx’ Mott Haven, Pelham Gardens and East Concourse communities.
By 2030, 20 percent of the city’s residents will be seniors, which led Tirado to say he’s ready to make the change.
“We are looking forward to working with DOT to promote the program,” he said.
Bloomberg agreed, saying such adjustments are a must to ensure a better life for all city residents.
He said, “We consider safer streets for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers a matter of public health – like smoking or obesity – that deserves our full attention.”