Source: Jaszek Photography via Flickr

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), seniors account for 38 percent of pedestrian fatalities, yet represent only 12 percent of the population. The reasons for this discrepancy, they say, are the lack of “complete streets.”

What are complete streets, you ask? Well, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition, “complete streets are designed and operated so they work for all users—pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.”

Essentially, they are the sort of streets that are neatly organized with sensible traffic flow, clear traffic signs and wide walking spaces that compliment bike lanes so pedestrians and bikers aren’t getting in each other’s way.

An example of a “complete street.” Source: smartgrowthamerica.org

New Yorkers can sense when they aren’t on a “complete street.” Incomplete streets are the sort of narrow sidewalks that barely accommodate two-way foot traffic, have winding twists and no clear intersections that promote safe crossing. According to the DOT, the lack of complete streets present a real issue for seniors:

A recent report by AARP showed that 40% of adults over 50 reported inadequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods, and 50% reported they cannot cross streets safety. The report also revealed that many people would walk, bicycle or ride the bus if these conditions were improved.  Challenges that frequently affect people’s mobility as they age include declining vision, reduced physical fitness and flexibility, decreased ability to focus attention and increased reaction time.

For the DOT, the need to proliferate the city with “complete streets” will become a pressing issue within the next decade as 2025 the population of older adults will double, likely leading to an increase of pedestrian accidents. Because of this, they are advocating community involvement and awareness in “complete street” policies and planning. Here is some relevant information:

Attend a DOT forum or workshop about transportation or neighborhood planning.  Visit our event calendar or view upcoming events on Facebook. Participate in your community board’s transportation committee. (Find your community board).

Check out resources like the National Complete Streets Coalition, the National Center for Safe Routes to School, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at NYU.

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  • Arthur Borko

    Silly people.

    The elderly don’t belong on the streets. They belong in museums and schools. They should be busy passing on their experience and wisdom to the next generation, not wasting time on such frivolities as fresh air and a walk.

    • Matthijs van Guilder

      Absolutely! Everyone knows that taxidermy items should not be exposed to “the elements”!

    • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

      I know you’re just joshing, but hey, I’m closing in, and believe me, you will too before ya know it! Gray power! (or in my case, bald power)

  • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

    The reason for the discrepancy is duh – the seniors can’t move fast enough to get out of the way of the nuts on the road. And that includes bikes. How many times a month do I say a silent prayer because I was still mobile enough to get out of the way of that guy that just HAD to make his right turn in front of me!
    I’m all in favor of this complete streets concept, it sounds good, but it ain’t worth a darn if cars and bikes are driving recklessly, and when any attempt to punish the perpetrators is greeted with responses of “aggressive police action”

  • guest

    The Bloomberg administration doesn’t give a rat’s ass about ANY citizen of New York City that isn’t either rich or a hipster. This administration also hates any sort of motor vehicle. Sadly, here seniors are simply being used as pawns for an excuse to get rid of a traffic lane for automobiles (causing yet more congestion) for bicycles and nothing more. Don’t fall for it. When does this clown leave office?