It’s a well known fact that the cities that spend the most money on incorporating advanced bike infrastructure are better off in the long run.
At the same time, cities that tow the line and build status quo infrastructure could actually be turning off cyclists, ultimately making the situation worse.
For example, if a city promotes the activity of cycling, and more cyclists hit the streets, standard bike lanes and sharrows that were created early on might not be able to hold up to the added bike traffic. Think of Delaware Avenue for example. With an increase in the number of cyclists, there are naturally going to be people traveling at slower and faster speeds. When cyclists pass each other in non-dedicated bike lanes, it can be hazardous. There are also the issues of cars illegally using the bike lanes as turning lanes, which can also be dangerous.
Think of the sharrows on Elmwood. Sharrows are useful of course, but the more cyclists that use them, it’s only natural that the increase of bike accidents will occur. The more accidents and “close calls” does have an adverse effect on bike culture, as some cyclists (or potential cyclists) will decide that it’s just not worth the risk (see this article in FastCoexist).
In Buffalo, we are not going to see dedicated bike lanes pop up over night. But there is a chance to examine what some safe, dedicated cross-city commutes might look like as the Complete Streets initiative continues to roll out. Why not look at streets such as North Division and South Division to begin experimenting with dedicated bike lanes? Currently the streets appear to be mini-highways with more than enough enough auto lanes to justify adding dedicated bike lanes. Elm and Oak (both currently one way) would also be perfect for this sort of dedicated bike infrastructure.
Currently GO Bike Buffalo is fighting to have the best examples of bike-friendly streets and paths in the city. At the same time, the organization is asking the community where they would like to see bike lanes/infrastructure added in the city. Simply Text GO Bike 877-877 and follow the instructions. The more people that text, the better chance we will have at pinpointing the greatest needs. Then, the more cyclists on the streets, means the louder the voice of the bike community. Growing numbers can then bring about greater change (in the form of enhanced infrastructure, not just added bike lanes and sharrows).
Lead image: The site of a bike-auto accident that occurred on Broadway not too long ago