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NYC Senior Works to Educate Peers on Pedestrian Safety

NYC Senior Works to Educate Peers on Pedestrian Safety
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A Tri-state Transportation Campaign study shows seniors account for 38% of pedestrian fatalities in NYC.

According to the Tri-state Transportation Campaign, senior citizens make up 17.5% of the New York City population, but account for 38% of all pedestrian fatalites. A 77-year-old Brooklyn man is doing his part to change that. 

Gene Aronowitz and his wife like to take "virtual vacations." They watch travel documentaries and eat take out that matches the cuisine of the featured counry, perfect for icy February days. But Aronowitz is not content staying cooped up. He started biking a few years ago to get in shape and became a volunteer at Transportation Alternatives, a group that advocates for safer streets.

Aronowitz visits senior centers across the city to share safety tips. He brings along a 20 foot rope, the length of an average crosswalk. He times his peers to show how their speed compares to the amount of time they have to cross the street.

"I'll tell them whether they're walking fast enough to be safe, and very often they do not walk fast enough."

Aronowitz says lights are typically timed for a person who walks 4 feet per second. He says this speed works for New York's younger residents, but not for the city's most vulnerable. Lights have been adjusted around some senior facilities, but Aronowitz believes lights everywhere should be timed at a reduced speed. 

"Older people live all over the city and they have friends all over the city and so they're not just crossing the street where there's a senior center."

Although Aronowitz focuses on educating seniors, he wants everyone to be vigilant while walking.