If there was ever a test for the Complete Streets initiative, it’s this section of Elmwood Avenue between Hodge and Utica. After the work is completed, will we see bike lanes or sharrows? Some Elmwood residents may remember a time when this section of the street was scheduled to be narrowed, and the sidewalks were to be widened. Unfortunately that was during the Masiello administration – it turned out that a few of the businesses on the street had The Mayor’s ear and put the kibosh on a project that would have really helped this stretch of commercial district to become more walkable. If I remember correctly, three businesses argued against the street improvement project because they wanted their customers and delivery drivers to be able to double-park on the street – a move that created an atmosphere that was unfriendly to pedestrians on the sidewalk as well as cyclists in the street.
Years later we now have a Complete Streets initiative that should be taking advantage of the missed opportunity. A bike lane on these blocks, and sharrow markers on the rest of street would show that The City is committed to making Buffalo a bike-friendly city. The implementation of the Complete Streets was hopefully considered for this project. If cycling and pedestrian (crosswalks) improvements are not implemented in this instance, then the Complete Streets initiative is a joke – another way for The City to state that it cares about these issues, but then does nothing to ensure that measures are taken to enforce the simple standards that will yield in a safer, greener, more livable city. The City should also start to consider that projects moving forward without incorporating Complete Streets initiatives could possibly be setting The City up for major lawsuits. For instance, if a pedestrian or a cyclist is injured due to lack of safeguards (that The City is obviously aware of), then I would imagine that a solid case for the injured person could, and should, be made.