Teaming up with AARP for the statewide “Complete Streets Week: Making New York Walkable for All Generations” campaign, State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr., Assemblyman Mike Miller, and local seniors stood at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and 89th Avenue to draw attention to the dangers pedestrians are subject to everyday.
This particular intersection was selected because there are two elementary schools, P.S. 60 and P.S. 306, and Forest Park Senior Center within a two-block radius.
“If a senior or student needs to cross Woodhaven Boulevard, they have to cross ten lanes of traffic in a very short time,” said Addabbo. He added, “Nobody should have to be an Olympic athlete to cross Woodhaven Boulevard.”
The Complete Streets campaign will survey hundreds of dangerous roads and intersections across the state to be submitted to traffic officials. Addabbo said in Senate District 15 alone there were 15 pedestrian deaths between 2006 and 2008, seven of which were individuals at least 50 years old, highlighting the vulnerability of seniors that attempt to cross large intersections.
Miller and his staff conducted a study of several traffic lights at intersections along Woodhaven Boulevard. At Myrtle Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, pedestrians are given 35 seconds to cross 120 feet. At Park Lane South and Woodhaven Boulevard, they get 36 seconds to cross 132 feet.
“We need a Complete Streets policy that recognizes older residents to make our community safer, healthier, and a better place to live,” said Miller.
Clotilde Parrella, 86, walks with the assistance of a cane. She tries to avoid Woodhaven Boulevard when she can, but sometimes she has no choice but to make the trek across, a daunting task for her.
“It’s a very long street, very large,” said Parrella. “Sometimes I have to stop in the middle and it’s very scary.”
Matt Kleinhans, 75, agreed, pointing out that the islands in the middle of the intersection are too narrow for pedestrians to stay there for long. Even for Kleinhans, who can still walk, the alloted time is barely enough to safely make the trip. Drivers who try to make the turn before the light changes quickly grow impatient.
“Cars go in front of you, in back of you; it’s very dangerous,” he said. He mentioned some years back when his wife fell crossing a large intersection and traffic continued to move. If not for two drivers who finally stopped, things could have ended tragically.
Complete Streets legislation has been introduced in the New York State Assembly and Senate. Addabbo and Miller have expressed their support.
“We want to prevent Woodhaven Boulevard from becoming another Queens Boulevard,” said Addabbo, “the ‘Boulevard of Death.’ Our streets should not be ones that our seniors or any pedestrians are afraid to cross.”