It’s fairly clear that road diets help communities to thrive. Buffalo’s days of urban renewal left us with wider roads than we need in order to get in and out of the city. We still see the scars of this disastrous era throughout the city, and the suburbs. There is a fascinating article in the NY Times that tells the story of Hamburg, and the resident’s battle to create a sense of community by taking on the State Transportation Department. The residents fought one particular road expansion, thankfully, and won. Today the commercial district and surrounding neighborhoods are on the rebound (see article here). What could have been a disastrous mistake was averted, thus creating a golden opportunity for the village. Can Buffalo learn similar lessons and fight the same battles? Ask alternative transportation advocates such as Justin Booth (GO Bike Buffalo) who was instrumental in securing bike lanes for Delaware Avenue in Downtown Buffalo – a project that should give us all hope that the decision makers can and will come around to seeing what is truly good for a city instead of commuters.
Today there are other battles to be won, all over the city. On Friday I noticed that the milling process has begun on Goodell Street – a four lane “freeway” that leads into the heart of the Medical Campus. In all my life I have never seen a warranted number of cars on this roadway to justify four auto lanes. Trying to cross Goodell is like playing the game of Frogger in real life (with speeding cars, not numbers of cars). If there was ever a street that was in need of a road diet, it’s this one. But like Hamburg, engineers and planners still appear to have one concern – “How do we move as many cars in and out of the city in the fastest time possible?” I am hoping that this is not the case with Goodell, and only time will tell if rational thought will prevail over status quo or business as usual.
The more success stories that we have, such as the victory in Hamburg, the more we can reference the importance of people over cars, and the NY Times article, and others like it will hopefully be a wake up call for the decision makers that should want to make Buffalo a better place to live rather than be pressured into making Buffalo a better place to live. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel here, instead we have to stop holding four of them upon a crumbling pedestal.
Goodell Street would be the perfect corridor to connect the bike lanes from Main Street to Michigan Avenue (still needed) and on to the waterfront and/or Larkinville. Anyone who saw the massive amounts of cyclists attempting to navigate the Michigan Avenue corridor last night after departing City of Nite at Silo City would agree.