In the wake of three pedestrian deaths on local streets in recent months, officials at Brooklyn’s Community Board 11 have requested action from the city Department of Transportation (DOT) to increase safety for residents, particularly senior citizens, who the officials said are more vulnerable to danger when crossing the street.
“We have asked them to come down and offer outreach and education,” Board 11 District Marnee Elias-Pavia told members at the board’s meeting on Jan. 10.
DOT experts came to Bensonhurst several years ago and hosted a pedestrian safety forum for senior citizens, according to Elias-Pavia. “We’re hoping they can come down again and do something similar,” she told this paper.
Board 11 covers parts of Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Mapleton and Gravesend.
The most recent fatality took place on Jan. 2, when a 77-year-old woman was struck by a car and killed at Cropsey Avenue and Bay 32nd Street. The driver remained at the scene and no arrests were made, police said.
DOT has already taken action to increase safety for the elderly through its Safe Streets for Seniors program, Elias-Pavia said. Two small areas of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach are included.
Board 11 officials aren’t asking for the Safe Streets for Seniors program to be expanded beyond the areas already covered. But Elias-Pavia said an education outreach targeted at people over 65 would be a good course of action.
Under Safe Streets for Seniors, DOT experts take a close look at a particular area that has a large population of senior citizens. They study crash data dating back five years as well as other factors that contribute to potentially unsafe conditions for older pedestrians.
If DOT believes action is warranted, the agency develops a series of safety improvement measures, such as adjusting pedestrian signals to give people who walk more slowly more time to get across the street, installing pedestrian safety islands in the middle of the street, widening the curbs and medians, and erecting new signage.
Since the program was launched in 2008, 13 neighborhoods in Brooklyn have come under additional scrutiny by DOT.
In addition to Bath Beach and Bensonhurst, these include Bay Ridge, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Borough Park, Brighton Beach, Brownsville, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Greenpoint, Kings Bay-Gerritsen, Midwood and Sheepshead Bay.
The study area in Bath Beach was located roughly between 20th and 26th avenues, from 86th Street to Cropsey Avenue. In Bensonhurst, DOT looked at an area bounded by 65th and 86th streets, between 18th Avenue and West Second Street. The Bensonhurst study, which was conducted in 2011, found that some intersections had faded crosswalk markings.
Under the program, DOT works in partnership with the city’s Department for the Aging to conduct public outreach to senior citizens.
Since the program began 11 years ago, pedestrian deaths among the city’s senior citizen population have decreased by 16 percent, according to DOT.