Week-Long Volunteer Initiative Will Collect Surveys on Dangerous Intersections from New Yorkers

April 19, 2010, New York – In partnership with AARP New York, Speaker Quinn together with Aging Committee Chair Jessica Lappin, Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca, and Department for the Aging Commissioner Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, kicked off a statewide volunteer initiative to identify and survey New York City’s dangerous intersections. This effort is part of a statewide campaign called “Complete Streets Week: Making New York Walkable for All Generations” which is surveying hundreds of dangerous roads and intersections across the state.

Volunteers across the five boroughs will assess intersections in their own neighborhoods looking at several of factors that impact walker safety including traffic and crossing signals, crosswalk markings, and speed limits. Information collected by volunteers in New York City will then be submitted to the Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) to help develop important policy and infrastructure changes to help improve city streets.

“For a long time pedestrian safety has been a big concern in my district, especially among seniors,” said Speaker Quinn. “Working closely with the Department of Transportation we have made several critical improvements to some of the community’s most dangerous intersections. As part of AARP’s grassroots Complete Streets initiative, New Yorkers in all five boroughs can literally take this issue into their own hands and assess conditions at other dangerous intersections across the city. As the people who use these streets everyday, I am so proud of the hundreds of volunteers who are helping to make our streets safer for New Yorkers of all ages, but especially for our active and vibrant senior communities.”

According to the 2009 “Dangerous by Design by Transportation for Americans” report, New York State has the third highest pedestrian fatality rate for seniors in the country. In addition, the five boroughs rank in the top ten of dangerous places in downstate New York for older people to walk. NYCDOT has identified and shared with AARP over 70 intersections citywide that have high rates of senior pedestrian crashes and fatalities, many of which have since been improved upon by NYCDOT.

“Complete streets are vital for older residents to maintain an independent lifestyle. That is why AARP has organized this initiative to evaluate the most dangerous roads and intersections in New York and help community members document the problems in their neighborhoods,” said Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State Director. “Complete Streets legislation would help New Yorkers age in the setting of their choice because their community will be more livable and meet their growing needs.”

“An 82-year-old woman was hit and killed last week at one of the dangerous intersections we are targeting with this campaign. It’s a corner in my district that we all know is dangerous,” said Council Member Lappin, chair of the Aging Committee. “New York is a city of walkers. And a dangerous intersection is a threat to seniors, to children, and to us all. This citywide street census effort is the first step in reclaiming our dangerous streets and sidewalks and making them safer for everyone.”

“As an AARP member myself, I can tell you that traffic calming and pedestrian safety are a top concern for many of my fellow mature adults,” said Council Member James Vacca, chair of the Transportation Committee. “Too often cars look to evade traffic lights, stop signs and street markings, and pedestrians are caught in the middle of intersections. As Transportation Chair, I have already begun working with DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan on improving pedestrian safety, and this volunteer effort is another important step in the right direction.”

“Ensuring safe, walk-able streets is one of the major ways to enhance our City’s livability for older New Yorkers, as indeed the Mayor and City Council recognized when they issued their blueprint for an Age-Friendly NYC,” said Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging. “Complete Streets complements the City’s numerous efforts to make the streets safer for not only older New Yorkers, but people of all ages. This project is an important part of our efforts to create a safe, secure and supportive environment for aging-in-place. I urge everyone to participate.”

“Safe passage on our streets is our primary mission, which is why we launched an unprecedented initiative to improve safety in 25 senior neighborhoods cross the city,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Traffic fatalities have reached a historic low last year, but we will continue to do everything we can to tailor our streets to protect our most vulnerable populations.”

In 2009, Speaker Quinn together with Mayor Bloomberg, Department for the Aging Commissioner Barrios-
Paoli, and the New York Academy of Medicine, announced Age-Friendly NYC:Enhancing Our City’s Livability for Older New Yorkers, a series of 59 initiatives to encourage safe, active, and healthy living for seniors, including street and community surveys on the livability of NYC communities. Additionally, in 2008, the Department of Transportation launched Safe Streets for Seniors, an initiative aimed at reducing traffic fatalities among seniors in 25 New York City neighborhoods with high densities of seniors and pedestrian accidents.

“Too often in a city where walking is a crucial mode of transportation, pedestrians risk their lives walking our streets while reckless drivers are not held responsible for the harm they cause,” said State Senator Thomas K. Duane. “I have worked with my fellow elected officials, the NYCDOT and community organizations in the past to help raise awareness of how dangerous some of our city’s streets truly are. I am confident that the Complete Streets initiative can be an integral part of our push for safer streets and tougher traffic laws in New York State.”

By 2025, people age 65 and over will comprise nearly 20 percent of the population. Yet two-thirds of transportation planners and engineers say they have yet to begin addressing older people in their street planning. Complete Streets policies direct transportation planners and engineers to design streets and roads with all people in mind including pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities.