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NYC Office of Actuary NYC Department for the Aging
Pedestrian Safety

Older pedestrians as a group make up 35% of pedestrian fatalities annually in New York City, although they represent only 13% of the City’s population. New York is working hard to reduce pedestrian fatalities among seniors through several initiatives to improve street safety (see Safe Streets for Seniors below). You can do your part, too, by learning to be a savvy walker in the City. A safer New York for pedestrians is not just about infrastructure improvements and driver awareness, but also about pedestrians taking responsibility for their own safety on City streets.

DOT Pedestrian Safety Quiz

How much do you really know about crossing streets safely?  The Department of Transportation (DOT) asks you to take the following quiz to determine your pedestrian safety IQ.

It’s safe to begin crossing the street while the RED Hand Signal is flashing. True or False?

Physical changes associated with aging can impair vision, hearing and response time. True or False?

Left-turning vehicles pose the greatest risk of intersection accidents. True or False?

A vehicle traveling at just 30 mph may need 125 feet to come to a complete stop, even under ideal driving conditions. True or False?

It’s important to make sure that cars come to a complete stop before you begin to cross the street, even if the pedestrian signal is lit in your favor. True or False?

The first item is false. All of the rest are true.

Tips for Remaining Safe on City Streets
  • Walk on sidewalks. If you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic. Stop at the curb before entering the street.
  • Cross only at street corners, preferably those with a traffic light and within marked crosswalks.
  • Pay attention to "Walk/Don't Walk" signals.
  • Give yourself the most time to cross by waiting for a newly turned green or walk signal.
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing the street, and be on the lookout for turning or backing vehicles.
  • Keep scanning for vehicles as you cross.
  • Hold your hand up or do whatever it takes to make yourself more visible to drivers.
  • Avoid walking in the dark and during bad weather such as snow, ice, rain or fog.
  • Make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of a vehicle. Stay out of the driver's blindspot.
  • Walk and cross with other pedestrians wherever possible.
  • Listen for the engine noises of backing vehicles when you're in a parking lot, near a driveway or crossing mid-block between cars.
  • Wear light or bright-colored or reflective clothing, especially if you walk at night. Use a flashlight if you walk at night.
  • Wear proper and well-maintained footwear.

Read more Safety Tips (in PDF)

How Walkable Is Your Neighborhood?

The NYC Department of Transportation wants to know if traffic signals are not working, signs are missing, street lamps are out or markings are fading. To help the agency identify trouble spots throughout the five boroughs, DOT has developed a Neighborhood Checklist for residents to fill out.  Be part of the solution!  Call 311 if you have something to report.

Download the Neighborhood Walkability checklist (in PDF)

Safe Streets for Seniors Initiative

Safe Streets for Seniors is a major pedestrian safety initiative for older New Yorkers. Engineers from the Department of Transportation are evaluating pedestrian conditions in neighborhoods across the City and making engineering changes, such as extending pedestrian crossing times at crosswalks and shortening crossing distances, altering curbs and sidewalks, restricting vehicle turns and narrowing roadways.

The Safe Streets initiative is one of many ways the City is preparing for the not-too-distant time when one out of every five residents will be over the age of 65. Safe Streets is part of Age Friendly NYC, an initiative launch by Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council and the New York Academy of Medicine to enhance the City's livability for seniors.

Read more on Safe Streets for Seniors
Read more on Age Friendly NYC