Senior citizens who have long risked life and limb crossing Ocean Parkway and Neptune Avenue received some help last week. Mayor Bloomberg and other city officials came to the intersection last week to roll out Safe Streets for Seniors, a new pedestrian safety initiative for older New Yorkers. Making our streets safe is a priority on all fronts, whether were continuing to provide the NYPD the resources they need to fight crime, or using the latest technology and innovative programs to reduce traffic fatalities, said Bloomberg. We consider safer streets for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers a matter of public health like smoking or obesity that deserves our full attention. Bloomberg said the program was rolled out in Brighton Beach because it includes a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC). A NORC is any building where more than 50 percent of the residents are over the age of 60. The nearest NORC building in the area is at 2844 Ocean Parkway. According to the 2000 census 26.5 percent of the residents living within the confines of Community Board 13 are over the age of 60. Under the initiative, the city Department of Transportation (DOT) has already retimed lights and pedestrian signals along key roads including Brighton Beach Avenue, Coney Island Avenue, Neptune Avenue and Ocean Parkway. This includes giving pedestrians an extra second of crossing time per three feet walked, according to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. The DOT also plans to refurbish signage in the area and to add No U-Turn and Yield to Pedestrian signs on Brighton Beach Avenue between Brighton 1st and Brighton 7th Streets. Longer-term projects in Brighton Beach include improvements to pedestrian islands, curbs and sidewalks, roadway narrowing and reducing the number of travel lanes, moving stop bars further away from crosswalks and additional senior outreach. We work every day to make our citys streets as safe as they can be, and with the number of fatalities in New York at its lowest level in a century, we are moving in the right direction, said Sadik-Khan. Our Safe Streets for Seniors program is the largest program of its kind ever undertaken in the nation, and its appropriate that it targets the most vulnerable New Yorkers throughout neighborhoods in all five boroughs, she added. The Brighton Beach area is one of five pilot programs citywide being rolled out as part of the Safe Streets for Seniors program. None of the other five sites are in Brooklyn. However, once the five pilot locations are completed, other borough neighborhoods that will see similar safety surveys and upgrades include Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay, Midwood, Greenpoint and East Flatbush. Along with announcing the traffic calming measures in the area, Bloomberg released final 2007 traffic fatality data showing that traffic fatalities in New York City dropped to the lowest level since records started being kept in 1910. There were 136 pedestrian deaths last year, an all-time low, and a 13 percent reduction from than previous lows in both 2004 and 2005, according to Bloomberg. However, the initiative also comes following a study of pedestrian deaths from 2002 to 2006 which showed that senior citizens remain a particularly vulnerable group to pedestrian accidents. The study found that although senior citizens those 65 and older make up about 12 percent of the citys population, they were involved in 39 percent of the citys fatal pedestrian accidents. Todays effort will not only assure that New York City remains one of the most age-friendly cities in the country, it will also serve to reduce senior fatalities at busy intersections across the five boroughs, said Department for the Aging Commissioner Edwin Méndez-Santiago. We know that by 2030 the population of older New Yorkers will be larger than the number of school-aged children, so it is critical that we begin to prepare for these changes by looking at our infrastructure needs across the spectrum, he added. The news was also welcomed from the local seniors out walking in the area when Bloomberg came to make the announcement of the traffic calming measures. This intersection is hard to cross. Sometimes you make it halfway across and the lights are changing already, said Billie Manna, Another senior, who refused to give her name, said the intersection has been difficult to transverse for a long time. I know its dangerous. Years ago a friend of mine was hit by a car here, the woman said. I hate this crossing because the cars are turning. I ride a bicycle also while the cars are turning, so I know its dangerous, she added.
©2008 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms: