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Calm it down: Hertel and Colvin

Author: Charles Roberts

The time is now to calm vehicular traffic on Hertel Avenue. And the intersection at Colvin Avenue – which might as well divide the Hertel strip in half, thanks to five lanes of pavement for motorists – is a good starting point.

The intersection features both right- and left-hand turning lanes, along with a center lane. And the dual-stripe crosswalks are mostly missing.

The result? Cars first, pedestrians second.

The luxury lanes for vehicles and lack of definition in the crosswalks make crossing the street on foot a gamble. And forget about riding a bike in the neighborhood; you’re better off going against common decency and pedaling on the sidewalk.

Short-term solutions to calm vehicular traffic at the intersection could include:

  • Eliminating the right-hand turning lanes on all four corners (there’s no turning right on red before 4 p.m. on weekdays).
  • Extending parking (already at a premium) where the turning lanes currently sit.
  • Restriping the crosswalks with bold horizontal stripes.
Cyclists are forced to ride on sidewalks, which is technically considered illegal

“The biggest challenge with Hertel is that the street is so auto-centric. Pedestrians have a tough time crossing the street,” said Justin Booth, executive director of GObike Buffalo, who would like to see bike lanes as part of the neighborhood’s future, too. “Hertel went from a four-lane to a three-lane street and was the first street in Buffalo to go on a road diet. It was done prior to the Complete Streets policy. It is identified as a corridor for the Master Plan to get bike lanes when the street is repaved. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Aside from including residential properties, the Hertel/Colvin intersection is a half-mile from the entrance to Delaware Park and will soon boast a new brewery. Whether by foot or in a vehicle, the intersection is a hazard for nearby residents, including those on streets such as Rugby Road, which lets out on Colvin near Hertel.

“Turning off our street and onto Colvin is always risky because cars speed through the center lane. And it’s even further exacerbated with two lanes of traffic racing to become one as Colvin narrows right there,” said Maryann Bolles, president of the Rugby Road block club. “Crossing by foot to walk to the nearby shops and restaurants is not as safe as it could or should be, either. You have to be able to sprint in order to make it across Hertel or Colvin in the time allotted to walkers. I’d love to see the City take measures toward improving this intersection.”

All of the aforementioned was brought to the attention of Delaware District councilman Joel Feroleto, who advised by email, “I will bring this up with the Department of Public Works.”

Home values in North Buffalo have never been higher. Shops and restaurants continue emerging. Luxury apartments are being developed. But it’s not due to Hertel resembling Niagara Falls Boulevard.

The Hertel strip is a desired part of the city based on walkability. It’s time for the city to right-size traffic, and re-thinking the intersection at Colvin is quite literally a step in the right direction.

Charles Roberts is a former journalist and longtime communications professional. He is the author of a Buffalo-based novella, “For the love of Thomas Amore,” which is available on Amazon.com.

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