Despite initial complaints, Buffalo must safely accommodate cars and cyclists

Despite initial complaints, Buffalo must safely accommodate cars and cyclists

News Editorial Board

Car traffic must share the road with bicycle traffic and pedestrians must be able to navigate the streets safely. These are simple and inescapable necessities of urban life in the twenty-first century.

Buffalo Streets should accommodate all modes of transportation, not just cars and trucks. The National Whole Streets Program, which was adopted by local ordinance by Buffalo in 2008 and by New York

The mandate in 2011 aims to make our roads safe and sustainable for all of its users.

Some progress has been made, but there is still a long way to go, and – yes – there will be plenty of hiccups before our streets are complete.

There’s a bit of a hiccup happening on Forest Avenue now that GObike Buffalo, in collaboration with the city’s Department of Public Works, is trying to do some temporary protected bike lanes in the Forest between Rees and Niagara.

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The keywords here are “try” and “temp”. The project, which began in late July, also includes painted footpaths and windows at the corners. Not everyone is happy.

Bicycle lanes with barriers provide the best protection, hence the temporary barriers that separate bicycle and vehicular traffic. Impact extensions for sidewalks on street corners protect pedestrians, hence the simulation in the GObike pilot project.

However, the plastic poles did not suit the annoyed, impatient – or perhaps just oblivious – motorists who did quick work for them, most of whom were prone to lying and useless on the street. The competing uses of the street are also a factor. But does this prove that bike lanes aren’t difficult for Forest Avenue? Probably not, but there is no immediate answer because public comments are accepted until November. At that time, the temporary infrastructure will be removed and planning begins for what will happen when the street is resurfaced next year. Decisions will be based on public opinions and the needs of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

Complaints about the Forest Avenue pilot project point to the difficulties of negotiating barriers, especially when the vehicles are large delivery trucks and fire trucks, and the fact that parking is limited to one side of the street, with a two-way bike lane on the other side of the street. the other side.

These are legitimate complaints. They are also complaints to be made about any major road in Buffalo where huge delivery trucks, fire trucks, bikes and cars are frequent sights and people need to park. Obviously, compromises and compromises have to be made so that all this traffic can use the streets safely.

Forest Avenue was one of several roads included in the Buffalo Bicycle Master Plan, which was adopted in 2016. According to Gobike’s Kevin Heffernan, the main reason why Forest was selected as an early candidate for bicycle safety measures was that neighbors reported vehicles traveling up and down the street. . Speeds 80 miles per hour. Bike lanes force cars and trucks to go slower. In a dense urban neighborhood, could this be considered a bad thing?

And there is one basic truth that cannot and should not be avoided: When it comes to fatal accidents, cyclists and pedestrians are most at risk. There were 1,622 bicycle and pedestrian accidents in the city of Buffalo from 2017 to 2021, and 3,472 automobile accidents with pedestrians and cyclists in Erie and Niagara counties during the same period.

For an excellent example of Complete Streets in action, look at Niagara Street between Forest Avenue and Hampshire, where a two-lane bike lane is separated by a barrier from motorized traffic. The new lane and other improvements have changed this part of the street, making it more attractive and less worrying for drivers as well as safer for cyclists.

It’s frustrating that there are no equally inspiring examples of whole streets across the city. Most bike lanes are still restricted to trails and trails outside the urban center of Buffalo.

It’s also frustrating that so much of the response to Forest Avenue’s bike safety efforts is outright disapproval. Does not bode well for future projects.

What would it take for people to look beyond insurmountable inconveniences for a future in which we can all be safe, whether riding a bike, walking, or behind the wheel of a car?

Unfortunately, it seems very possible that it will take more deaths.

We can and must do better.

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