Sunday, May 21, 2006

Seniors Demand Safe Streets, Elected Officials Listen

"Fed up with living in fear and isolation, senior citizens throughout the five boroughs are demanding that the DOT do something about wide, uncrossable streets and dangerous intersections. With active seniors' groups like Washington Heights/Inwood Council on Aging (WHICOA) and the Gray Panthers, T.A. has pushed the city to extend crossing time, shorten crossing distances and fix danger spots on streets and intersections throughout the city.
Now T.A.'s Safe Routes for Seniors program is kicking it into high gear with a fresh campaign to establish a new "Elder Districts" designation for city neighborhoods with high numbers of senior citizens. "Elder Districts" would mandate a higher standard for pedestrian safety and amenities, recognizing the special needs (such as more crossing time) of seniors.
The Elder District idea is moving from concept to reality as political support continues to grow. State Senator Liz Krueger's office sponsored a meeting at the Municipal Arts Society on May 5th where many elected officials and their representatives heard the details of how Elder Districts would work in New York City.
The following week the idea was presented again at the T.A. co-sponsored conference, "Well-Being of Asian American Senior Citizens," at the Asian American/Asian Research Institute at CUNY.
Senior-specific improvements will make city streets safer not just for older New Yorkers, but for everyone.
The following is an array of street improvements that should be implemented in an Elder District as appropriate to the surroundings:
Retime pedestrian signals to reflect a walking speed of 2.5 feet
per second.
Give extra, exclusive crossing time of five to nine seconds on all
Repair street and sidewalk imperfections to prevent falls.
Install pedestrian ramps at all curbs.
Install audible, accessible pedestrian signals at all crossings.
Where street widths exceed 60 feet, install bollards on the double yellow line and at the far-end of the middle of the crosswalk.
Where street widths exceed 90 feet, install pedestrian refuges or medians,
and median tips.
Limit speeds on residential streets to 20 miles per hour. This can be achieved using vertical deflectors and/or other traffic calming measures. These traffic calming measures may include, but are not limited to:
�� Speed humps or speed tables;
�� Raised crosswalks or intersections;
�� Curb extensions or bus bulbs;�� Bicycling lanes;
�� Mini Roundabouts;
�� Diagonal Parking.
The following are criteria for an area to be considered for inclusion in an Elder District.
�� Presence of senior centers and senior service providers.
�� Located in census tracts with equal or higher than average density of seniors as compared to the citywide average.
��Presence of disproportionately high rates of injuries and fatalities to seniors from crashes at intersections in the area.
��Specific request by a community board, councilmember, borough president, or other elected official.

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