This Needs More Attention: Making Streets Safe for Seniors

Their Needs are Too Often Forgotten, Sadly...
NYC's Transportation Alternatives has a program called Safe Routes for Seniors, and our friends at StreetFilms have a closer look at what this tries to accomplish and why it's so important to make streets safer for all pedestrians, including seniors. Some eye-opening statistics from Transportation Alternatives:

People aged 65 years and older make up 12% of the NYC population, yet they comprised 39% of New York City's pedestrian fatalities between 2002 and 2006.

The fatality rate of senior pedestrians is 40 times greater than that of child pedestrians in Manhattan.

Some recommendations to improve the situation are:

  • The street should be as flat as possible, with minimal convexity for drainage and a smooth transition from the curb to the street.
  • Large streets should have wide median refuge areas with benches. Refuges should be as large as possible and contain amenities such as plantings and shelters.
  • All bus stops near senior centers should have shelters and benches. Bus stops on excessively wide streets should have bus bulbs.
  • Drivers should be prohibited from turning during the first 10 seconds of a traffic signal phase. This time is needed by seniors to ascend the curb and begin a safe crossing unobstructed by turning vehicles.
  • Drivers should be required to stop 15 feet before a junction. This requires moving the stop bar back away from the crosswalk and placing a tactile surface on the stop bar. To further protect elderly pedestrians, where appropriate, the crosswalks should be built up or "raised" to line up with the curb. The addition of a raised crosswalk forces drivers to reduce their speed at the intersection.
  • On busy commercial streets and bus routes, all curbs should be extended into the crosswalk to create better sightlines for pedestrians and drivers.
  • On streets where there is more space than is needed to move traffic, the street should be put on a "road diet" where lanes or parts of lanes are reclaimed for wider sidewalks, planted medians and/or bicycle lanes.

Via StreetFilms (thanks Elizabeth!)

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