Westchester, Rockland roads dangerous for senior pedestrians, study finds
Thirty pedestrians were killed on Rockland and Westchester roads from 2009 to 2011, more than a third of them 60 years of age or older, according to a study of federal highway statistics released Monday.
"Senior pedestrians are disproportionately killed on our region's roadways," said Ryan Lynch, associate director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, which studied 1,242 pedestrian deaths in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut during the three-year span.
"Wide roadways designed to move cars as fast as possible through communities and downtowns pose particular challenges for seniors, who tend to move slower and may not be able to cross the road in one walking 'cycle,' " Lynch said.
Westchester County totaled 21 pedestrian deaths during the span, with seven in 2011, five in 2010 and nine in 2009. Eight of the 21 killed were 60 or older.
Rockland County reported two deaths in 2009, four in 2010 and three in 2011. Among them were three children under the age of 12 and three 60 or older.
The Rockland and Westchester deaths were spread across dozens of towns throughout both counties, with Yonkers, Yorktown Heights and New Rochelle tallying two deaths each.
Among them were the deaths of a 66-year-old man and a 77-year-old woman within hours of each other on June 8, 2009. The woman was hit around 11 a.m. crossing Quarropas Street near the Westchester County Supreme Court building and the man was struck around 3:30 p.m. on Route 119 in Greenburgh, according to the review of fatality statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Tri-State Transportation Campaign has pushed state and local governments to come up with safer ways for pedestrians and bicyclists to share the road with cars.
One such measure has been countdown clocks at more crosswalks to alert pedestrians to how long they have to cross a street. Other measures include more visible crosswalks and medians where pedestrians can rest before continuing across a street.
"We don't think that automobiles should be banned," Lynch said. "But if people choose to walk they should have a safe way of doing so."
The most dangerous road in all three states was Route 24 or Hempstead Turnpike in Nassau County, Long Island, the study found. During the three years studied, 14 pedestrians were killed along the 16-mile stretch of roadway.
Last year, the state redesigned portions of the road, adding five crosswalks and slowing cars by altering traffic signals, according to the study.
"We have seen again and again that relatively low-cost improvements such as the improvements being done to Hempstead Turnpike can save lives," said Veronica Vanterpool, Tri-State's executive director.