Concerned by a recent study released by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign that ranked Brooklyn among the highest in senior pedestrian fatality rates, Borough President Eric Adams held a press conference on Thursday, August 21 calling on the city to use school crossing guards to aid seniors as well as students.
“It was troubling for us to discover that Brooklyn is one of the most unsafe areas for seniors when it comes to vehicular traffic,” said Adams, joined by D.C. 37-Local 372 President Shaun Francois and Executive Vice President Donald Nesbit at the presser preceding his inaugural “Senior Day Celebration” at Brooklyn Borough Hall. “We are asking the city to create a joint initiative to utilize school crossing guards to complement our existing programs of safe senior transit.”
The full report, Older Pedestrians at Risk: A Ten Year Survey and Look Ahead, details that, from 2003 through 2012, 916 pedestrians ages 60 years and older were killed on downstate New York roads, indicating that seniors are at a “disproportionately” higher risk of being killed in collisions with vehicles while walking.
Two hundred and two of those fatalities were in Brooklyn alone, which ranked third overall (out of 12 Downstate areas) in average fatality rate for people 60 and older, and accounted for the largest number of fatalities of individuals over 60 of those 916.
According to City Council testimony from February, as of January of this year, the NYPD employed approximately 2,100 crossing guards, with 200 vacancies, rounding out to 2,300 total crossing guards for the 8.5 million residents of the city.
“School crossing guards are vital to New York City,” said Francois. “We help seniors cross the street; we help kids cross these streets along with their parents, their aunts, and their grandparents. These are the people we care for everyday so we need to make sure they are safe when dealing with traffic.”
According to Adams, he and the crossing guards union plan to pen a letter with their recommendations to Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.
“With the mayor’s initiatives for Vision Zero, we focused on slowing down drivers,” he stressed. “We cannot remove our seniors from the vision of protecting our streets and our citizens from vehicle traffic.”
The beep’s first annual Senior Day honored 25 centenarians from across the borough.
“To truly honor them,” Adams said, “we must create a safe environment so that more of our elders can live to be 100 and beyond.”