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Colonial Circle: Traffic Control or Industrial Vandalism?

While I understand the need to keep traffic flowing in a safe and orderly manner, I wonder about the wisdom of marking an Olmsted Circle with rather obtrusive amounts of paint.  A friend of ours who operates a shop on Elmwood Avenue called to let us know what had been done at Colonial Circle.  She was nearly apoplectic, sputtering words like “YELLOW, WHITE, HUGE,” and what she said was done didn’t make sense, so I went and had a look.

After getting there and seeing the circle, it still didn’t make a lot of sense.  This is an Olmsted Circle, and while we know there can be issues, especially for pedestrians, the paint-job seemed heavy-handed in scale and…well…garish.  
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Look, for instance, at Gate’s Circle (Google image below), where triangular, curbed green areas, or splitter islands, direct the flow of traffic.  Sure, that treatment costs far more money than a paint job, but it’s an Olmsted Circle.
I travel the Bidwell/Richmond route frequently, and though it may be my timing, I’ve never seen a traffic jam, accident or even motorist confusion at this rather vast juncture.  At least, I’ve never experienced traffic that would require such a loud command.  I think this could have been left bare until a more suitable island area can be built. 
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I called someone rather high up in the Olmsted Conservancy to ask about the utilitarian road graffiti last night (culturals never sleep) and he said, “Uh-oh, sounds like some city engineers got their hands on some paint.”  He was sure that this wouldn’t happen on the planned Porter Avenue restoration of circles.
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So pedestrians, if you happen to cross there often, do you see the painted islands as safe haven?  Motorists, have you had trouble navigating in the past?  Residents, how do you feel about the aesthetic?  Call me curious. 
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  • Jesse

    Ye gods that’s ugly.
    Someone start taking up a collection to pay the workers to build some actual islands….


    Goes well with the ginormic street name signs along there.

  • buffaloguy

    I live a few doors from Colonial Circle and I agree that it’s garish and overdone, and looks far too Sheridan Drive-ish. It’s nice to have the repaving, but where’s the thinking, the planning? Where’s the oversight? Where’s the Conservancy? Why not look at what the original design and dimensions were in Olmsted’s original plan and try to get back to it? While we’re at it, what’s the plan for Soldiers’ Circle? Come on, people.
    I agree Gates Circle is well done and so is Symphony Circle and even the Ferry circle, but Soldiers needs more work and who’s asleep at the wheel while the paint stripers are running amok on on Colonial Circle? Our best hope now is for it to fade, quickly.

  • PaulBuffalo

    Maybe it’s going to be used as a helipad.

  • buffloonitick

    someone from the city really earned their ‘stripes’ on this one…

  • hamp

    Leave it to the traffic engineers. No sense of aesthetics.

  • townline

    I think some giant directional arrows identifying which way cars should travel around the circle would also be appropriate…

  • skarnath

    I also live a few houses from the circle, and drive it several times each day. I agree it’s overdone, but it’s just paint, and the actual repaving was very fast (approx. 2 full work days). I also walk across the circle, and I think some marking is better than leaving it unmarked. But I won’t argue with anyone who thinks it’s ugly.

  • SenecaFire

    They are probably the same ones that thought stop signs at traffic circles were a good idea.

  • NorthBuffRR

    Wow – I found the new marking to make things much easier in regard to entering the circle and having pedestrians know approximately where they should be…
    Is this really that bad?

  • LovinLivinintheBuff

    I assume ginormic street signs means you don’t like them. Well, ginormic or not, they help people find their way, unlike umpteen other intersections in the city that have no street signs. Could they have been better designed? Maybe. But they serve their purpose well.

  • LovinLivinintheBuff

    from the headline “…Industrial Vandalism”?

  • SevenOneSix

    A little off topic, but does anyone know what’s going on with the the Porter Ave reconstruction? I thought it was supposed to start this summer but I went down it last night and didn’t see any work being done… just wondering…

  • tourneur

    Maybe Louis Grachos will buy it.

  • Arch

    many times stripping is left to being laid out by an intern in a design office somewhere far way, and executed by low-bid sub-sub-sub contractor. I once did a parking lot where the stipes actually got wider down a row, (starting at 4″ and ending by the end of the row to be 9″ Wide!) because they made a mistake laying it out… So no suprise, and No oversight in this case, which is really unfortunate because it is essentially part of the Olmstead park system.

  • Arch

    what the hell is with the “multi-color” too?

  • BuffaloWonk

    why must everything be such a travesty? colonial circle needed to be repaved in a bad way…and it has been. now we’re going to argue about the traffic control lines? of course grass islands would look better, but so would well manicured lawns along richmond, a developed waterfront, a better irrigation system on the delaware park golf course (also an olmstead creation), and new sidewalks (not the cheap concrete ones but nice slate tablets ones).
    Buffalo doesn’t have an unlimited amount of money, we must remember that.

  • DMZ

    Amen, What’s the point of a round about if you have a stop light or stop sign?

  • 300miles

    That’s just the standard white and yellow that is used on all roadways. White for traffic in your direction. Yellow for traffic opposing your direction. It looks odd here because they applied it to the circle.

  • biniszkiewicz

    I’m with STEEL on this one. Those signs are waaay big.

  • sbof

    Maybe a few more sunny days will fade the work of the vandals, and we can worry about something else.

  • whatever

    According to Google satellite imagery, the yellow is nothing new. Here’s what they show – presumably the version before repaving:
    Probably new paint looks brighter than the previous worn-out yellow.

  • QueenCity

    Yeah, I have to agree
    If there is that much room to paint wide lines then replace it with a grass island

  • biniszkiewicz

    It was fugly before the stripes because of the expanse of asphalt. Now it’s laughable, though it’s nice to be paved.
    The islands that everyone recognizes should be here have precedence at Richmond and Ferry as well as Gates Circle. This circle has far more real estate than Ferry/Richmond. The islands could be enormous, really done right.
    Aside from the cost of construction, however, there is the issue of maintenance. Gates circle is cultivated and maintained by volunteers living in the neighborhood. Would neighbors coalesce in commitment to upkeep? If so, city hall has had block grant monies available in the past which would match community input. Furthermore community input could be calculated at hourly wages for the estimated time upkeep and installation would involve. If those monies are still available.

  • Mike14222

    I live just west of the circle and walk through it daily to get to Elmwood. The stripes, new multi-color or old orange ones, don’t do much for pedestrians. There should be a crosswalk! I don’t allow my 11-year-old son to walk through the circle on his way to school. I tell him he needs to go to the corner of Richmond & Delevan where there’s a stop sign, or to Richmond & Auburn where there’s a light. It’s blocks out of his way, but there is no safe way to cross the circle on foot. Makes me wonder if there’s something malicious in the design of this circle. Is this someone’s idea of how to keep the West Siders on the West Side? Brings to mind the City of Buffalo teenager killed in traffic on Walden Ave. in Cheektowaga because NFTA buses weren’t allowed on Galleria Mall grounds.

  • mbhxam

    Yes Mike, that must be the reason. Unfortunatly this grand conspiracy failed to take into account the 20 or so intersections that cover the area from Bird to Porter.

  • needles

    I have to live with this odd idea every day living in the McKinley Pkwy neighborhood. I’m gonna get a ticket one of these days for rolling through them but it’s just so counter-intuitive to stop!

  • Shoestring Budget

    But first he’ll have to auction off some antiquities.

  • sonyactivision

    Aside from the aesthetics, my wild guess is that while raised curb islands are certainly more attractive, they make it difficult to plow these circles after a heavy snow. The stripes act as traffic control without the hassle of constantly repairing curbs and blades. If the city was wealthier, I would recommend large temporary planters that could be placed in these “island” zones for the warmer months and then removed in the Fall.

  • 07newbie

    Wish some of that paint had been used on the miles of city streets sorely in need of fresh lane markers. Main St. near Forest Lawn is a prime example.

  • jolopy

    Why not measure how wide the plow shovels are and add 5 feet to each side, then put the islands in? I can’t see if being that expensive. Its essentially the same as digging down, removing the road and installing a curb. The islands that are at porter an north almost look like they are just resting ontop of the road.

  • kdouglas706

    I just drove through the circle the other day and this struck me immediately. I agree that this is an excessive paint job by the city. Not to mention how bright it is…put your sunglasses on.

  • kdouglas706

    Maybe they should have used some of the paint to stripe the Parkside/Amherst intersection.

  • max

    I go around that circle every day on my scooter. I’m thrilled that they finally repaved it and i could give a goddamn about the paint. I would make one change: replace the stop signs with yield signs; no one stops anyway.

  • thestip

    Snow is a commonly lame excuse used by the City DPW whenever they are challenged to add urban streetscape design vernacular that is not what they normally do. Examples being: bump-outs, mid-block crossings, raised bike lanes, raised intersections, etc… Rochester has many of these features and will be adding more in the near future. Coincidentally, Rochester has been getting more snow on average over the last few years and they seem to have no problem removing it. Honestly, their streets are often better plowed than Buffalo’s… Makes you wonder…

  • onestarmartin

    It is a bit much…

  • snoozin_again

    Well it could be worse. Take the new traffic circles in Hamburg for instance. The one at Main and Buffalo Sts is so cluttered with signs to warn of all the possible happenings in the road ahead that you can barely see what is actually happening in the road ahead. Good job DOT!

  • spoiled

    We live around the corner and always worry about crossing the street. The cars come fling around the corner.
    Yes, it is a pretty circle and will make a great grave stone for the family that gets killed trying to cross it. There are blind corners for the drivers coming off Richmond onto Lafayette.
    When we saw the paint we were so happy ! Because the cars were also moving slower. Our stroller with baby got clipped on the circle one already. It may not be the prettiest answer but at least it will help keep people alive.

  • lavoie888

    Not to change the subject too drastically, but if we’re writing about improving Olmsted Circles, then let’s do something about the big garish flashing yellow lights on Gates Circle Fountain. They belong on the islands where drivers will encounter them before they crash into the stone benches.
    Placing them where they did on the circles was as thoughtless as it gets. They are in the way for anyone walking around the circle; they are blinding for a pedestrian walking around the circle at night; and, as I said, they absolutely belong on the islands where drivers will encounter them before slamming into the stone benches. As for the garish paint on Colonial Circle, it’s far less significant than the flashing lights blocking the walk on Gates Circle.