Oak and Elm streets in downtown Buffalo are currently being resurfaced, and although the project is that of the NYS Department of Transportation, I would have thought that traffic calming measures on the multi-lane roadways would have been appropriate (in the form of bike lanes). It appears that there is usually some sort of an unexplainable issue when talking about why we are not seeing urban roadways outfitted with bike lanes. Oak and Elm are streets where cars speed right along to gain access in and out of the city. At the same time these streets would make excellent bike routes for cyclists attempting to get from one part of town to another. In order to do that one auto lane would have to be eliminated (out of four). No, not taken away completely, just striped off as dedicated bike lanes. Both Oak and Elm are currently three-four lane, one way streets.
I am aware that there are heavier traffic volumes on Oak and Elm, but from what I can tell there are no traffic-jams or bottlenecks... there are excessive amounts of lanes for the number of cars on the road. I would think that milling and overlaying would warrant a review in traffic calming measures for such streets, especially now that there is such awareness surrounding the benefits of cycling.
When I first interviewed Jeff Russo at the Buffalo Scooter Company (a couple of years back), he actually commented that he felt that Oak Street was too much of a highway. He had mentioned that his hopes were that one day Oak would be downgraded into safer and slower routes, and that would be better for the neighborhood and his business. "How is it that in other cities they can add bike lanes when repaving streets, but in Buffalo it's a painstaking process?" he asked me. "How hard could it be to designate a bike lane. Paint is not that expensive."
There are some bike advocates out there that have told me that the change must come from the top, and if the decision makers (at the City and NYSDOT) don't understand the importance of bike lanes, then we'll never get them. That's a bummer because that means that a couple people can keep the face of the city's streets from becoming bike-friendly. I'm talking about access routes to Larkinville and the old First Ward, and the Outer Harbor and the Buffalo River. Bike lanes on Oak and Elm would have sent a signal that the decision-makers were getting serious about green transportation, and bike lane connectivity might finally becoming a reality. So much for that.