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.
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.