Redfin/Walk Score has ranked Buffalo as one of the most walkable midsize cities in the US. Ten cities were included in the top ranking achievement. According to Katie Thacher, a representative at Walk Score, “As background, Walk Score is the leading international provider of walkability data. Walk Score believes that walkable neighborhoods with access to public transit, shorter commutes, and proximity to the people and places you love are the key to a happier, healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. Walk Score delivers more than 10 million scores for apartment and home addresses per day across a network of more than 30,000 real estate sites. We annually rank large cities on walkability, and this year we added a midsize city ranking as well to bring cities like yours into the mix.”
Last evening, my wife and I paid a visit to a couple of friends who are living near Chippewa. Over the years this area has become a pleasure to walk around, with numerous bars and restaurants to visit. It’s also super close to the Metro Rail, which is a free ride directly to Canalside and HarborCenter. Now that there are some cool retail shops down there, and more along Main Street, the idea of easily and safely walking around the city (with access to public transportation) is becoming more desirable each and every year.
For years neighborhoods such as Elmwood and Allentown have been recognized for their walkability scores. And now Hertel is a rising star in this department (though the street desperately needs traffic calming and bike lanes). Soon Niagara Street will also be a pedestrian friendly corridor, as upgraded infrastructure is added.
At the same time, Main Street, from Pearl (Sidway Building) to East Delavan is a complete mess, and should be given top priority, as it is a prime connector between the suburbs and Downtown Buffalo, with a number of higher education institutions along the way. Plus, The City screwed up Main Street from East Delavan to UB South Campus by not installing bike lanes, while adding the deplorable medians that look like crap and are a hazard to pedestrians and cars.
It would be nice to see pedestrian-friendly infrastructure connecting Grant Street and Amherst street, especially now that more Buff State student housing is on the way – last week the rest of the houses were demolished, making room for Greenleaf development to begin building (see inset).
Speaking of colleges, Canisius (at Main) needs to be connected to Elmwood via Delavan, which is also a complete mess (not to mention the intersection at Delaware). Michigan Avenue is also a street that needs help – the roadway transects a huge portion of the city, from Canisius College to the waterfront – but try to ride a bike on that stretch and you’re taking your life into your own hands.
Then there are the downtown auto thoroughfares (speedways) such as Tupper, Oak, Elm, and North and South Division Street/Church Street, all of which would have Robert Moses raising his glass to what was once considered urban progress.
Then there are the almighty parking lots that overrun areas of our city, making the act of walking a less-than-desirable proposition. But there are even short-term remedies for eradicating parking lot blight, such as enhanced green-scapes and other creative/productive ideas.
Despite many of the issues that Buffalo has when it comes to connecting our walkable commercial and residential neighborhoods, we are making some progress thanks to the efforts of organizations such as GObike Buffalo. The City is also starting to wake up from the deep slumber that it has been in for decades.
If Buffalo is to compete against progressive cities such as Portland and Seattle, then we must make haste when it comes to creating more walkable and bikeable destinations and corridors. Being recognized as a Top Ten walkable midsize city is nice, but we have a long way to go!