By Todd C. Clark:
I hope everyone has noticed the number of news reports about pedestrians being seriously injured or even killed by cars lately.
In my hometown of Lancaster, there have been several accidents this summer that have taken the lives of innocent pedestrians. The most recent accident being Monday morning when a 18 year old girl was fatally struck by a car while waiting for the bus on Broadway, near Penora. It is sad to see these stories when it is mostly a result of careless driving.
After the news broke, my community began to express their concerns and thoughts via multiple social media networks. Statuses such as, "The amount of pedestrians that have been hit and killed by vehicles this summer is unreal and unnecessary. Don't drink and drive, don't text and drive, and be more aware of your surroundings...it's as simple as that. Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the 17 year old girl who was struck and killed on Penora this morning" with a comment under stating " It's like you can't even go outside and walk or bike like a normal human being anymore."
So, how do we fix this? What is the solution? How can we stop people from driving carelessly and taking the lives of these innocent pedestrians? I believe the issue lies in the fact that our society is so dependent on their cars to get everywhere. The answer is quite simple really... provide the community with more attractive transportation options to limit the amount of car dependency. Here are a couple of options Erie County can pursue if they wish to stop accidents in our community.
• Provide more Bus Services to Suburbs with convenient pick-up and arrivals times
• Invest in traffic calming methods for pedestrians on streets
• Extend Light Rail Services or Trolley Cars/Modern Street Cars
• Car Sharing Programs/Car Pool Programs
• Bike Sharing Programs
• Affordable Taxi Cab rides from Suburbs
• Provide Park and Rides from Suburban Towns into Downtown Buffalo
• Incentivize people to live where they work.
Buffalo is lucky to have several of these planning initiatives happening within the city. However, we continue to demolish buildings for parking or create massive and very expensive parking ramps to accommodate the car traffic.
These planning concepts need to be utilized and implemented regionally because if we all began to encourage less driving across the region, we will begin to see the car dependency reduce region wide. Even the City of Buffalo has a hard time implementing bicycle infrastructure (aka bike lanes) because there is no communication between departments.
I understand this is an ambitious solution to the problem but Western New York needs to have a long term vision for transportation. If you have good transit, development will follow in the creation of jobs, making our community more attractive to potential businesses and residents. I realize there are endless political and financial pieces that would need to fall into place for these transportation methods to be implemented but the federal, state and local levels of government need to take these accidents seriously and need to work towards a solution.
While extending affordable mass transit options would be a very expensive and long process, it would be worth it in the end. Until our political leaders begin to heavily invest in our communities infrastructure (not just roads), we will continue to see news like this. Until then, please consider these ideas in your daily life and look into other modes of transportation if you have the potential of become a careless and dangerous driver. If you are driving a car, please be responsible.