Nassau County is one of the most dangerous places in the country for pedestrians age 60 and older, according to a recent study by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. According to the study, 5 out of every 100,000 people in this age group will get struck by a car and die. This number is more than twice the national average for that age group. The odds are even worse on Sunrise Highway and Hempstead Turnpike--two major six-lane highways.
The report also found forty-five percent of the 87 pedestrians killed in Nassau County from 2007 through 2009 were 60 or older. "The older population, they're being disproportionately killed while walking in their own communities," said Bill Ferris, New York State lobbyist for the AARP. "That's unacceptable."
One way safety advocates want to help make the streets safer for all users is to adopt Complete Streets legislation in New York, which are laws aimed at making the roadways safer for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and riders of public transportation. Complete Street designs would incorporate ways to help slow cars as they approach intersections and help pedestrians cross safely. Methods would include shorter crossing distances, crosswalk countdown signals, narrower lanes, and pedestrian islands. So far, 25 other states have adopted Complete Streets programs. A bill has passed the New York Senate Transportation and Finance committees but has not yet been introduced in the assembly.
Advocates also called for the state DOT to make good on its pledge to expand its SafeSeniors pilot program, which began on Long Island in 2009 and included improvements at intersections on Main Street in Smithtown and on Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, Franklin Square and Hempstead Village.
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