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Better on Bailey: An Infrastructure Plan

Seeing close to 20,000 cars everyday, Bailey Avenue is one of Buffalo’s busiest East Side corridors and provides access to major employers, regional expressways, inner and outer suburbs and major commercial, industrial, educational and human services. Bailey Avenue has also benefited from many investments in recent years, both small and large-scale.

A collaborative mural between local artists Edreys Wajed, Nicholas Miller, and Christopher Kameck helps to transform this surface lot on Bailey Avenue into a temporary event space. One of many murals sponsored through Bailey Fights Blight.

These include the opening of the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood Children’s Academy, the re-opening of the Varsity Theatre as a large arts and event space, Bailey Fights Blight, a community-led public art and public space improvement project, and most recently a $300,000 Buffalo Main Streets Initaitive (BMSI) grant awarded to the University District Community Development Association (UDCDA) to assist property owners with facade improvements and building renovations.


Yet, as a regional connector, Bailey Avenue suffers from heavy through traffic where motorists’ destinations are oftentimes not the local businesses along the corridor. This, in addition to speeding cars, unmanaged turning, unmarked parking and travel lanes, aging light standards, barren sidewalks, and the dangerous experience of walking across Bailey without designated crosswalks, has helped to reiterate the need for a major streetscape overhaul.

Buffalo Paint & Wallpaper is one of half a dozen businesses that have taken advantage of the UDCDA’s “Better on Bailey” facade improvement and building renovation grant program funded through New York State’s Buffalo Main Streets Initiative.

Enter: Matthew Straub. Through an internship with the University Heights Tool Library, the University at Buffalo undergraduate architecture student researched over 40 years of studies, surveys, and needs assessments that all pointed to Bailey Avenue’s streetscape as a major impediment to promoting the growth and vitality of small businesses along the corridor. Straub also consulted multiple design proposals for streetscape and public space improvements to Bailey Avenue the developed out of a UB School of Architecture and Planning urban design seminar led by Professor Hiro Hata. Using the information derived from 40 years of neighborhood studies, the design proposals from the UB seminar, and Straub’s own experience volunteering on community projects through his involvement with the University Heights Tool Library, Straub designed “Better on Bailey: Infrastructure Plan”. 

The report proposes streetscape designs for Bailey Avenue that will calm traffic, promote multi-modal transportation and create a people friendly business corridor between Winspear and Kensington Avenues. Included in these designs are a road diet, striping to identify travel, parking, turning and bike lanes, options for parking-protected bike lanes or regular bike lanes, crosswalk installation, and short-, mid- and long-term solutions to increasing walkability and activate the now concrete-dominate sidewalks. From planting trees to supporting aesthetic improvements to current business owners, there is plenty of potential to create a people-oriented Bailey Avenue.

In the short term, the UDCDA hopes to use recommendations that came from Straub’s report to work with business owners, block clubs and residents in allocating $15,000 of streetscape funds that are available through their Bailey Avenue BMSI grant. The UDCDA is also seeking input on the design alternatives proposed for Bailey Avenue in “Better on Bailey: Infrastructure Plan”. Community feedback from the plan will also help inform longer term investments in Bailey Avenue being made by the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC), Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), and City of Buffalo Department of Public Works. By prioritizing community engagement around these infrastructure investments early on, the goal is to create a Bailey Avenue that is built for and by the people who use the street.

Download the full report

To provide feedback, please fill out the Better on Bailey survey.

Written by Darren Cotton

Darren Cotton

Darren has over a decade of experience in the fields of community development, urban planning, and information design. Working as Director of Community Development & Planning at the University District Community Development Association (UDCDA), Darren was responsible for writing and administering over $2 million in grant funding focused on commercial corridor revitalization, small business development, alternative transportation planning, historic preservation, public art, and community capacity building in Buffalo's University District. As a graduate student at the University at Buffalo, Darren founded The Tool Library, a community-based tool lending library, with an aim of providing affordable tool access and building the Sharing Economy in WNY. With a Bachelor's Degree in International Studies and Linguistics and a Master's Degree in Urban Planning from the University at Buffalo, Darren works to bridge the gap between research and policy through planning, design, and grassroots activism. and is a firm believer that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

View All Articles by Darren Cotton
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