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Your granny at risk - Streets prove dangerous for seniors

Senior citizens are increasingly risking life and limb just crossing Brooklyn streets.

According to recent federal data, 12 of the 23 pedestrian fatalities between 2005 and 2007 on the borough’s four most dangerous streets involved people 60 years and older.

Among these thoroughfares is Atlantic Avenue, which with eight fatalities in this time period had the dubious distinction of making the top 10 most dangerous thoroughfares for pedestrian fatalities in the tri-state region.

The borough’s other most deadly roadways from 2005-2007 include Fourth Avenue with seven fatalities, Flatbush Avenue with four fatalities and Neptune Avenue in Coney Island with four fatalities.

“Atlantic Avenue was tied for ninth in the 10 most dangerous roads in the region and a total of 147 pedestrians were killed on Brooklyn streets between 2005 and 2007,” said Kate Slevin, executive director for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a policy watchdog organization that did an analysis of the recent federal transportation data.

The group also applauded the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) for implementing several programs aimed at reducing pedestrian injuries and fatalities at targeted locations, including a Safe Routes for students and Seniors programs.

Along Neptune Avenue, three of the four deaths occurred in people 60 or older and the last fatality was of a 59-year-old male.

“This is a sad situation in that seniors as pedestrians have higher fatality rates then people of other age groups,” said Slevin.

“It can be more seniors walk or they need longer to cross the streets. Anything the city can do to slow traffic time would be helpful including longer and exclusive crossing time so cars aren’t turning into you when you are crossing the street,” she added.

Thus far, the city DOT has only instituted one Safe Streets for Seniors program in Brooklyn. That one was implemented in January at the Neptune Avenue/Ocean Parkway intersection last January.

The program included retimed traffic lights and pedestrian signals, replaced signs and the installation of improved pedestrian refuge islands to make crossings safer.

Roads were narrowed to calm traffic and defective sidewalks and ramps in the area were reconstructed to reduce tripping hazards for seniors.

City Councilmember Domenic Recchia said the program was instituted at his urging after lobbying the Bloomberg Administration.

“We have one of the largest elderly populations and we also have a problem on Neptune and West 5th Street. I’m talking to the DOT and am on top of this,” said Recchia.

However, along a couple block stretch of Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge where four of the people fatally hit by cars were seniors ranging from 64 to 90 years old, there is no Safe Streets for Seniors program.

According to a DOT study released in January, only four other areas of Brooklyn are being considered for the Safe Streets for Seniors program.

These neighborhoods include Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay, Midwood, Greenpoint and East Flatbush.

City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who represents Bay Ridge, indicated that the Bloomberg administration needs to pay attention to seniors in his district as well.

“Ours is a community enriched by its seniors, and any threats to their safety - as well as the safety of the rest of Bay Ridge residents – need to be addressed with a sense of urgency,” said Gentile.

A DOT spokesperson responded that pedestrian fatalities in the city have been on the decline as DOT continues to make streets safer with initiatives such as Safe Routes to Schools and Safe Streets for Seniors.

To view the map of fatalities in Brooklyn log onto www.tstc.org/reports.html and go to the link for Brooklyn.

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