It was around two weeks ago that I first noticed that Linwood Avenue was getting dug up. At the time I made some phone calls to see if there were any bike-friendly improvements being made, as Linwood would be the perfect street to create a safe route for crosstown traffic for cyclists. The funny thing was that I wasn't getting a clear answer as to what was being planned. All I was told was that the street would be bike-friendly, but to hold on for some exciting news on the way. Since that time I've tried to learn more, to no avail.
Well, the cat is finally out of the bag. Today I was approached by a member of the Linwood Preservation District and Friends who appeared to be extremely perturbed about the new plan for the street, mainly because the plan is already underway and according to the association member the only person who has been aware of the changes being made to the street was the association's president and The City. It seems that there has been a breakdown in communication that has left residents scratching their heads. When I asked what sort of changes were being made, the resident said, "Linwood Avenue will now be downgraded to one lane of auto traffic heading northbound. On either side of the traffic lane will be parking lanes. Then on the opposite side of one of the lanes of parked cars, there will be a two-way bike lane - similar, I imagine, to the following diagram with the addition lane of traffic to the left of the parked car, and another parking lane to the left of that. There are even separate traffic signals being installed for the cyclists heading southbound.
To me, this looks like a super progressive way to go for Linwood Avenue. Unfortunately the progressive idea has created a hornets' nest among residents who are just learning about the plan for the first time (even though work is well underway). Apparently, it's not that the residents are against the idea, it's more about the communication, or lack thereof, between The City, the association and the residents. At this point it looks as if there were no public meetings and/or presentations. Being a fan of this sort of progressive street-scape, I am hoping that the situation is remedied, because if the residents are upset that communication channels were closed in order to push a project of this nature through, then that could negatively impact future projects of this sort. Where these types of drastic changes are concerned, the public should at least be aware of the designs being implemented, as this could lead to some serious trust issues down the road.
If the community had been brought onboard since the beginning, the timeline to get the project seen to completion would surely have been drawn out. The project also could have been killed while still on the drawing board. "Some people wanted this and they figured out how to do it without the fuss," said the member of the association that I talked to earlier. It will be interesting to see how this project unfolds... ultimately if this design is successful it could be used as a pilot program for other streets in the city. I just hope that it isn't surrounded by so much controversy from the start that people start having second thoughts about "what could be" in Buffalo.
It looks as if a meeting between The City and residents is being scheduled for next week, and that road striping will not happen until that time. That said, the southbound signals for cyclists have been installed, which means that the striping issue is sort of a moot point, unless there's a choice in colors.