AARP: Older NYC Pedestrians Concerned About Drivers Failing to Yield

Four out of 10 New York City voters age 50 and older consider motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians a serious problem, and one in four say traffic signals don’t allow enough time to cross the street, according to a poll by AARP.

Forty percent of NYC voters age 50 and older say drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians are a major problem. Photo: ## Yourdon/Flickr##
Forty percent of NYC voters age 50 and older say they consider drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians a major problem. Photo: ## Yourdon/Flickr##

As part of its 2013 voter survey, AARP asked a series of questions related to transportation and street safety. The results were released Tuesday. Of all respondents across the boroughs, 40 percent said drivers not yielding to pedestrians is a “major problem.” Twenty-eight percent said traffic lights are timed too fast for pedestrians to cross safely.

Staten Island residents were most concerned about failure to yield (45 percent), followed by respondents in Queens (42 percent), the Bronx (40 percent), Brooklyn (40 percent), and Manhattan (34 percent). More Staten Islanders also cited short pedestrian signals as a major problem (35 percent), followed by residents of Queens (30 percent), the Bronx (29 percent), Brooklyn (28 percent), and Manhattan (21 percent).

The survey further categorized responses by race. From an AARP press release: “When it comes to the timing of traffic lights, more Hispanics cite them being too fast for safe crossing as a major concern, followed by Asians and African Americans. Concern about cars not yielding to pedestrians is again highest among Hispanics, followed by African Americans and Asians.”

The survey was conducted before the advent of Vision Zero. AARP praised Mayor de Blasio for prioritizing street safety.

“Our city streets can be a rough place for pedestrians, especially those 50 and older. Being struck by a vehicle is the second leading cause of injury-related death for older New Yorkers,” said Beth Finkel, director for AARP in New York State, in the press release. “AARP commends Mayor de Blasio’s focus on addressing this issue and for working to make New York City’s streets safer for pedestrians of all ages.”

The pedestrian fatality rate for people age 60 and older in the tri-state region is nearly three times the rate for residents under 60, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. TSTC’s 2013 “Older Pedestrians At Risk” report found that older NYC pedestrians suffer disproportionately from traffic violence.

Crash data compiled by Streetsblog show that drivers have killed at least 27 pedestrians age 50 and older in 2014, compared to 29 fatalities during the same time period last year.

The complete AARP survey is here.

  • Joe R.

    I’m always seriously concerned whenever I’m walking with my 75-year old mother and we need to cross a busy street. Sometimes we just barely make it across before the cars get the green, even if we start crossing right at the walk signal. When turning vehicles fail to yield to us, I become concerned we may end up stranded in the middle of the street right as the light changes. Because of these things, my mom feels (and I agree) that pedestrian bridges across very busy streets would make crossing safer and less stressful. She’s even asked me several times why there isn’t one on the local drag strip (i.e. 164th Street).

    Another big problem is large parked vehicles blocking visibility. Seniors don’t move all that fast. If they can’t see what’s coming before they cross, they really can’t cross safely.

    We need to think what kind of streets we want not only now, but when we’re older with diminished senses, reflexes, and walking speed. Right now far too many streets are hostile to get across even for a younger, relatively fit person. It’s no surprise then that senior citizens lead in pedestrian fatalities.

  • Mark Walker

    To know what it’s like to be old, you have to get old. After not having my height measured for a long time, I recently discovered I’d lost nearly an inch sometime over the past 15 years, much of it in my legs. I noticed the difference in pants sizes before the doctor confirmed it. When your legs are shorter, you can’t walk as fast. Add that to the other infirmities of age and you have a slower, less agile pedestrian who can’t jump as fast out of harm’s way — as I’ve had to do as recently as yesterday, when a U-turning driver tore into the crosswalk. And if you actually are hit, lower bone mass means injuries that are more likely to be fatal or life changing. Street designs that are unfit for seniors are inhumane and obsolete.

  • Jonathan Hawkins

    Wait, so now the elderly and disabled are supposed to climb stairs or a giant winding ramp to get to a pedestrian bridge? That does not sound like a solution to me.

  • Joe R.

    Look, even my 75-year old mother who has trouble walking sees it as better than playing frogger with cars, so yes, it may well be a better solution in some cases. Note that these would mainly be needed over major arterials, not over every single street. This means someone walking will encounter one overpass every 1/2 mile or so. Being that most seniors don’t walk far, in practice this means they’ll being climbing a bridge exactly once each way in return for guaranteed safety crossing the street. Everyone else benefits too. When arterials are busy, you often have to wait through a long light cycle to cross. It’s insulting to ask people to wait for cars to pass just to cross a street. It’s also anti-pedestrian.

  • JamesR

    I think we overemphasize street design on Streetsblog. My building fronts on a relatively narrow two lane tertiary street in the Bronx. It’s narrow enough that if there is any obstruction on one side of the road, cars are forced to go into the other lane to get around the obstruction. None of this stops drivers from tearing down the street at 40-50mph on a daily basis.

    This is an issue of selfish and sociopathic road behavior, and you can make the streets as narrow as you want – it won’t stop someone who is utterly self-absorbed and in a hurry from killing someone.


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