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Deadly Intersections For Bicyclists & Pedestrians

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-904459.mp3

Albany, NY – A five county report reveals Albany County's most dangerous intersections and highlights the need for statewide legislation to make New York's roadways safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

In Albany County alone, 10 people were killed from 2006 through 2008 while walking or bicycling and another 883 people were injured. People over the age of 60 are disproportionately represented in the fatality statistics, comprising 30.0% of bicyclist and pedestrian deaths although they make up only 18.5% of the county's population. To bring more attention to the need for new state laws to increase bicycle and pedestrian safety, groups of activists rallied at the intersection where Lark Street, Washington Ave and Central Ave meet.

"By 2025, people age 65+ will comprise nearly 20 percent of the population," said Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State Director. "Yet two-thirds of transportation planners and engineers say they have yet to begin addressing older people in their street planning. This report further illustrates the need for safer roadways for pedestrians and bicyclists through Complete Streets legislation."

The report, which covers Albany, Broome, Erie, Monroe, and Onondaga counties, outlines a series of steps that can be taken to reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries on New York's roadways:

Pass "Complete Streets" legislation (S.5711-Dilan/A.8587-Gantt) current pending in Albany. Complete Streets would create an approach to road design that balances the needs of people of all ages including pedestrians, bicyclists, people with disabilities, automobiles, and public transportation users.

Allocate resources to enhance and expand the New York State Department of Transportation's Safe Seniors Program. The program has been successful but is limited in scope due to lack of sufficient resources.

Establish a public/private task force to develop future policy recommendations to the Governor and Legislature on how New York can develop its communities and roadways to make New York State more livable now and in the future. The task force would include key state agencies, developers, aging and pedestrian advocates, as well as municipal officials.

4 albany intersections occupy positions 4 thru 7 on the new Report on Pedestrian Safety : they are Washington Ave/Central Ave & Lark St , Central Ave & Robin St, Henry Johnson Blvd & Clinton Ave and Central & N Lake. Lane --- Activists are strongly advocating for the passage of Complete Streets legislation by the end of the legislative session in June, which would direct funding to improve the dangerous intersections. "Complete Streets" would create an approach to road design that balances the needs of people of all ages including pedestrians, bicyclists, people with disabilities, automobiles, and public transportation users.

Ivan Vamos with the New York State Bicycle Coalition says while the troubled intersections additional enforcement they also need complete redesigns. The American Cancer Society sent a representative to the news conference: "Cancer risk can be reduced just by taking a brisk walk around the block a few times each day," said Sherry Tomasky, Advocacy Director with the American Cancer Society. "But people shouldn't have to worry that by trying to improve their health that they are actually putting their lives in peril by walking through dangerous intersections. Incorporating regular exercising into our daily routines is important to prevent cancer and so many other health issues. Creating and maintaining infrastructures where people exercise safely, and for free, is key. This is why the American Cancer Society is strongly supporting the Complete Streets legislation."