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Dangerous by Design: A Pedestrian Hazard Study

The
Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area ranks 36th out of the 52
areas included a report, titled “Dangerous by Design,” which was recently
released.  The study ranked the 52
largest metro areas according to their Pedestrian Danger Index for 2007- 2008.

The safest
places for walking tend to be older northeastern or northern states, or places
with a generally compact development pattern. Metros such as Seattle, WA;
Portland, OR; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN are investing to build a
well-developed network of sidewalks and crosswalks and have many people walking
and bicycling.

The list of
the most dangerous metro areas for walking is striking in its uniformity. Nine
of the ten metro areas are in the South, and the top four are in Florida. These
areas are dominated by lower density and automobile-oriented development
patterns, which include high-speed urban arterials that are particularly
hazardous for walking. A national FHWA survey affirms these results, finding
that respondents in the South rate pedestrian safety far lower than their
counterparts in the rest of the country.

Buffalo
isn’t as bad as cities like Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles, but far from
high-ranking metros like Portland, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh. The only
reason, it would seem, that the Buffalo-Niagara metro does not have an even
worse ranking, is because of its dense, urban design, typical to many northeast
metros scoring higher in the study. Our region’s low ranking is due to
Buffalo/Niagara’s lack of investment in pedestrian and cyclist oriented
infrastructure over the past several decades. In-fact, Buffalo/Niagara ranks 47th out of the 52 metros on federal funds spent on bicyclists and pedestrians, with
an average of only $.52 spent per person each year.

Green
Options Buffalo
has been working hard to reverse this trend. The organization
has gotten “Complete Streets” legislation passed in both the City of Buffalo
and Erie County. The legislation mandates that when any roadway repairs are
made an assessment and necessary improvements must be made at the site to
accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as the motorists. The results
of these efforts can be seen along the 700 block of Main Street in downtown
Buffalo. The block hosts Buffalo’s first “Complete Street,” equipped with
bicycle lanes, crosswalks, pedestrian scaled lighting, neck-downs, benches,
trees, signage and other safety aids. 

Green
Options Buffalo has partnered with the City of Buffalo and Flying Bison Brewery
to bring 177 bicycle racks to commercial districts across Buffalo this year.
Last fall, Green Options Buffalo secured $550,000 in Department of
Transportation funding allocated for the Safe Routes to School initiative,
improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety across Buffalo. The money will go to
fund the kinds of infrastructure improvements that have propelled other
metropolitan regions to be some of the safest communities for pedestrians and
bicyclists.

Under
the mission to build “healthy, environmentally sustainable, community friendly
transportation” options to Buffalo, Green Options Buffalo is working to make
Buffalo a safer community.

 

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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