AARP Statement on Increase of Traffic Fatalities in New York City Area

Sep 27, 2012, 17:49 ET from AARP New York

Older New Yorkers Increasingly Opting to Walk, More Can be Done to Improve Safety for Growing Population

Statement by Will Stoner Associate State Director, Livable Communities, AARP New York

NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pedestrian and bicyclist safety is a crucial issue to AARP, across the nation and here in New York.  We are alarmed at the increase of traffic fatalities reported in the newly released Management Report from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office. New York City has always been renowned for its inclusion and approach to the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, but more can always be done.

This past year, AARP worked with state lawmakers on legislation, signed by Governor Cuomo, establishing New York's first-ever Complete Streets law, addressing this issue.  The law now requires bicycle and pedestrian accommodations to be considered in the planning and development of all transportation projects receiving state and federal funding. This was a significant step forward for New York City and New York State.

A growing number of older New Yorkers are opting not to drive, and walking is a critical part of their lives, so ensuring safe, healthy transportation alternatives is very important for this ever increasing population.

Earlier this year, AARP, as part of a broad, statewide coalition, called on Governor Cuomo to dedicate more funding to pedestrian and bicycle safety.  Under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which goes into effect on Monday October 1, New York State now has the opportunity to make a solid commitment to bicycle and pedestrian safety. While the state has been given the authority to divert up to 50% of the "Transportation Alternatives" funds to other road and bridge projects, we're urging the Governor to dedicate the full amount to these funds to bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.

In addition, New York has roughly $30 million in unallocated funds in the Transportation Enhancements Program fund which, if not spent soon, will be have to be returned to Washington. Utilizing these funds for bicycle-pedestrian projects, before it is too late, is a clear move in the right direction.

While no doubt a great many factors have contributed to the rise in traffic fatalities among those opting not to drive, but rather walk or ride a bike, there are available resources and options that New York can use to address the issues facing the group. Statewide, where improvements have been made at the street level, fatalities are down; this is some good news and further highlights the need further dedicated funding, such as that available under MAP.

AARP has a strong track record of working with state and New York City officials to address these critical transportation issues and we look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to make New York roads safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.  It is AARP's hope that New York takes advantage of the funding it has to continue to tackle this issue.

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About AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, our bilingual multimedia platform for Hispanic members; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.