Save our seniors! Beep wants crossing guards to help oldsters

Safety first (First Place, that is)!
The Brooklyn Paper / Tony Trezza

Crossing guards aren’t just for kids anymore!

Brooklyn’s senior citizen population will be able to live even longer if a plan to let the city’s army of crossing guards leave their posts after the morning school rush and head to high-traffic geezer areas to help old-timers cross dangerous intersections comes to fruition.

Borough President Adams says the plan to turn the street-traffic controllers into full-time employees would extend the lives of those that move slower and don’t have the eyesight they used to, and many seniors agree.

“It’s a big issue for us,” said 72-year-old Clinton Hill resident Dorothy Howard. “Seniors will feel safer with someone helping them.”

Two-hundred-and-two people aged 65 and up were killed by cars in Brooklyn between 2003 and 2012, according to a study conducted by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional car-critic group. Adams claims the new plan will help get that number down.

The cross-walk workers put in around 20 hours per week, and make an average of $15,000 a year, according to the union that represents them. And with new contracts about to be negotiated, a union head said this plan is a chance for guards to cash in while lending a helping hand.

“This initiative would get them more hours,” said Donald Nesbit, vice president of the municipal employee union’s local chapter. “It will help them out, it will also help out seniors.”

In their honor: Dorothy Howard, left, is a 72-year-old resident of Clinton Hill who was among the seniors honored by the Borough President for “Senior Day” at Borough Hall.
Community News Group / Matthew Perlman

The plan, announced by Adams ahead of a lunch honoring Brooklyn seniors at Borough Hall on Thursday, would move the school crossing guards from their normal posts to intersections near nursing homes and senior centers while kids are in class.

“School crossing guards can become senior crossing guards,” said Adams.

He also said he would like to see more guards on the streets if possible. There are currently 883 borough–wide, his office said.

The beep wants his plan to be included under the city’s “Vision Zero” initiative, which hopes to reduce pedestrian fatalities to zero. The plan for that initiative cites being struck by a vehicle as the second-leading cause of injury–related death for seniors. And it notes they account for 33 percent of pedestrian fatalities.

Adams is sending letters to the mayor and to the police commissioner asking them to consider using the guards to help, and says for Brooklyn oldsters, it could be a matter of life and death.

“We want to continue to have the highest number of seniors that live to be over 100,” Adams said. “And they can’t do that if they’re being struck by vehicles.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Slow down!: Lenox Hutson, 66, from East Flatbush thinks cars need to slow down because he and older folks like him take longer to cross the street.
Community News Group / Matthew Perlman