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