After pulling up to my parking space, I got the package out of the car, walked to the corner and hit the button on the pole. The green light went to yellow, and a good three seconds later it switched to red. It is a simple curb to curb transfer, as I juggle the delivery through the crosswalk and into the store.
It was a gorgeous day, so I stopped for a minute outside of the suburban building, to chat with one of the customers. After a couple of minutes she explains how she loves going out to eat downtown. Except, she’s concerned about all the people crossing the streets. The conversation went something like this:
When people are in the crosswalk and the signal turns green, can I go?
I would wait.
But what if they are over a bit?
But if they are on the other side of the middle line….???
I think according to State law, you can get a ticket if you enter the crosswalk prior to the last person stepping up onto the curb. Think of it as a curb to curb assurance.
The conversation with the woman got me to start paying closer attention to the crosswalks around the city. Or the lack of crosswalks and crossing signal buttons for that matter.
Buffalo has a lot going on for it right now. Our grassroots efforts are seeing tremendous results – new businesses are popping up, and our streets are lined with trees. Unlike many other cities, we are lucky; retirees want to stay, people are moving in and millennials are having babies. However, all is not perfect. With changes in population density, we are just beginning to put in place tools to accommodate increases in vehicle and pedestrian traffic (not to mention timed traffic lights, but that’s a whole other issue).
With retirees living longer, thirty-somethings pushing strollers and seven year olds following their parents on their bikes; we might have a sticky situation on our hands. With more cyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities, we need to ensure that there are proper street crossings, everywhere in the city, not just the newly paved streets. The more noticeable the street crossings, the safer we will all be.
To put it succinctly, Buffalo needs more traffic calming measures – narrower streets with curb cuts. Traffic patrols need to monitor dangerous intersections for motorists who speed up to make it through yellow (and often times red) signals. Crosswalks and bike lanes need to be freshly painted, not simply painted every 15 years or so. Fixing broken crossing buttons is another issue. And finally, there needs to be driver and pedestrian awareness campaigns that go both ways – it’s not safe to cross the street if there is no crosswalk, and if someone is in that crosswalk, no matter the color of the signal, it is not safe to step on the gas.
The busier that Buffalo gets, the more we need to ensure that, from curb to curb, our crosswalks are safe. If you are aware of a street that needs traffic calming, or an intersection that could use crosswalks, let me know. In the meantime, be courteous and give the person crossing the intersection plenty of time to make it curb to curb.