Joined by dozens of seniors, local elected officials and community advocates outside the AMICO Senior Citizens Center in Borough Park, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced the launch of CROSS (Connecting Residents on Safer Streets), a new initiative to improve street safety for vulnerable pedestrians, in a press conference on Tuesday, April 21.
The effort is backed by a commitment of capital funding from Borough Hall totaling $1 million to construct sidewalk extensions at intersections determined to be dangerous based on crash data from the New York City Department of Transportation.
“We want to make sure we create a safe atmosphere for seniors and others who have to use our streets can cross in a safe manner,” said Adams at the podium, referencing a statistic from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, that people aged 60 years and older comprised 42.7 percent of Brooklyn’s 473 pedestrians killed between 2003-2012, despite only making up 16.2 percent of the borough’s population, fueling his motivation to make a change.
The new extensions will shorten the crossing distance for seniors and other pedestrians, so those who walk more slowly no longer need to race to beat the light, and can take the necessary time to cross.
“This is one of the many initiatives we want to take to make sure that our citizens are safe,” said Adams. “When you’re a senior or disabled and you are attempting to cross a busy street, those few extra feet are the difference between making it there safely and becoming a victim of a tragic vehicle accident.”
Joseph Tsang, a community member who turns 75 this year, expressed his gratitude for the initiative.
“It means a lot to be able to help the seniors because we don’t want to stay home,” said Tsang. “We want to stay socially engaged and mentally active.”
Others who were there commended the new initiative and see it as a much-needed step forward to safety.
“It’s incredible, when you think about it, that for a million dollars across the city, working with our great borough president, we’re literally going to save lives,” said Councilmember David Greenfield.
“We’re certainly happy that he’s doing this,” said Joann Pastore, director of AMICO. “I think it’s going to help seniors borough-wide.”
Adams didn’t give an exact timeframe as to when the sidewalk extensions would roll out, but said that the money was already allocated and ready to go.
“I think that every time we open a newspaper or turn on the news and hear that another senior or another innocent person has been a victim of a vehicle accident, it shows that we need to move this forward,” said Adams. “This sidewalk extension, not only will it extend a safety zone for our seniors, but it will also extend the lives of those who won’t be hit by oncoming vehicles and that’s why this investment is important. It is extending a zone of safety for our seniors.”