Author: Adrienne Boudreau
I’ve had a few days to mull over the recent Gobike Buffalo kick-off meeting with Mayor Byron Brown and I have to say I’m still impressed with the enthusiasm shown by the community members and leaders.
Gobike Buffalo and Alta Planning & Design joined with the community at the Bicycle Master Plan Kick-off Meeting this past Tuesday, July 29th at dig, the co-work space on Ellicott Street, with only standing room to spare.
The presentation given by Alta Planning & Design gave the crowd a brief overview on what bike plans typically look like.
The City of Buffalo, already a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, hopes the planned improvements will help raise the city to a silver or gold level one.
According to the presentation 1.6% of Buffalo’s population are daily bike commuters, which is the 14th highest in the United States.
The final master plan hopes to have increased signage, indoor bicycle parking, and protected bike lanes, the latter which received overwhelming support from the audience.
Protected bike lanes divide bicyclists from automobile traffic by planters, parked cars or bollards, which are flexible plastic pylons installed in the ground.
In addition to verbal suggestions from the audience, among them connectivity with the suburbs and better maintenance of current bike lanes, the sign-in area had two large maps showing the city’s current bike plan. Community members were encouraged to write in ideas and highlight streets and route they think needed improvement.
I marked Allen, Chippewa and North Streets, three streets I can’t comfortably ride on due to parked cars, narrow streets and speeding drivers.
After the meeting I had the opportunity to ask Mayor Byron Brown a few questions on police enforcement of motor vehicle laws in relation to cyclists. In response to my question “if the Buffalo Police Department has any plans to enforce more traffic laws on streets with bike lanes”, the Mayor told me there is no current push to do so. “I am personally talking to people [auto drivers] about the safe ways to drive. So I’m talking to people, the police are talking to people… I’m talking to people at block clubs,” he said when I asked him if there were any Public Service Announcement campaigns in the works to inform the public that bike lanes are solely for bikes (not turning lanes for cars).
It seems sort of incredible to me that though there is this big on-paper push from the City to improve the situation for bicyclists and pedestrians, the City doesn’t have a “lesson plan” for the public, and ways to monitor and enforce the systems that are in place. What I mean by this is actually monitoring how auto drivers are interacting with the current bike lanes. My hope is to one day see cars not making right turns in bike lanes, not using the bike lanes as passing lanes and not having vehicles double parked in bike lanes. All which the executive director of GoBike Buffalo, Justin Booth, informed me this morning are “definitely illegal.”
It is exciting to see the planning committee interested in what the community wants. In the end, it’s also important to address the issues of those who are willing to ride if conditions are improved even further.
The group hopes to announce the final draft of the master plan by bike week in May 2015.
Photo: Kidical Mass – GOBikeBuffalo