Editorial: Protecting our seniors

August 29, 2014 Editorial Staff
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A new report indicates that Brooklyn’s senior citizens are particularly vulnerable when they take to the streets as pedestrians.

According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Older Pedestrians at Risk: A Ten Year Survey and Look Ahead, approximately 22 percent (202) of the 916 pedestrians ages 60 years and older who were killed on downstate New York roads between 2003 and 2012, lost their lives on Brooklyn thoroughfares, the largest number in any downstate region, and the third highest average fatality rate in the downstate area.

Not only that, but, the report contends, seniors are at a “disproportionately” higher risk of being killed in collisions with vehicles while walking compared to younger people.

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While the elderly make up just 17.5 percent of the downstate population, they make up a whopping 38 percent of the pedestrian fatalities.

And, the older you get, the more at risk you appear to be. According to the report, the fatality rate for people 60 and over is three times what it is for people under 60. It’s even worse for people over 75, who are four times more likely to be killed as a pedestrian compared to people under 60.

As the city gears up to make Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan a reality, these are statistics that must be changed.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has already offered some suggestions for making the streets safer for Brooklyn’s elderly including deploying school crossing guards to aid older adults in making their way safely across the borough’s thoroughfares.

In addition, Adams plans to urge the state’s Department of Transportation to bring to the borough a program focusing on making streets more senior-friendly that has been launched on Long Island. That program includes longer pedestrian crossing times, brighter lights, more visible pavement markings and countdown signals, all of which are intended to make crossing the street less hazardous.

These are both worthwhile suggestions, but we hope that they represent the beginning of the discussion and that our elected representatives continue to come up with ways of making Brooklyn’s streets safer for seniors.

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