Summer 2003, p.10

T.A. Launches "Safe Routes for Seniors and Schools" in N. Manhattan

Traffic calmed shopping areas benefit seniors. Here at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard at the Sunnyside shopping area, some older pedestrians enjoy benches on a sidewalk extension.
With funding and support from the New York State Department of Health's "Healthy Heart Program," and in cooperation with the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and Mailman School of Public Health, T.A. is starting a major new five-year program to improve walking conditions and safety for seniors in Manhattan north of 110th Street. The five-year program is modeled on T.A.'s innovative "The Bronx Safe Routes to School," which won traffic calming improvements at six Bronx schools, extensive plans for pedestrian improvements at 32 more and inspired New York City to launch a $2.5 million "Safe Schools" project to traffic calm the area around 32 schools.

Northern Manhattan is a dangerous place for pedestrians, and seniors and children are the most vulnerable walkers. According to crash mapping done by T.A. using State DMV records, northern Manhattan's pedestrian crash rate is about 50% higher than the city average. Furthermore, seniors, defined as people age 65 and older, are about 15% of northern Manhattan's population but account for 36% of pedestrian fatalities. Children are 20% of the area's population and account for 49% of pedestrian injuries. Mapping also shows that children and seniors in the area tend to be struck at the same dangerous streets and intersections.

T.A.'s goal is to work with leaders from seniors groups, service providers and some schools to win pedestrian safety improvements in a two block area around 12 senior centers, major destinations and schools. These improvements include neckdowns, raised crosswalks, speed humps, longer crossing times and pedestrian head starts, or Leading Pedestrian Intervals. An estimated 150,000 pedestrians will benefit from these improvements. We hope that, in the places where senior centers and schools are close together, both institutions will call for the same slate of pedestrian improvements.

Though T.A. will not formally launch the project until later this year, T.A. Safe Routes for Seniors Outreach Director, Karla Quintero, began meeting with local leaders of seniors groups and service providers in April. The leaders have given the project a hearty welcome and are enthusiastic about making it work.