National Bike Month is underway, which means that the folks at GObike Buffalo are busier than ever. National Bike Month is not only a time to ride bikes, it’s also a month dedicated to advocacy. Advocacy comes in all forms, from addressing safety concerns to demographic empowerment.
The issue of safety has been a pressing matter on the East Side, which can readily be seen by the lack of bike infrastructure, resulting in numerous car-bike-ped accidents. In June of 2020, I wrote about the need for bike-ped safety precautions on streets such as Bailey Avenue. At the time, George Johnson, who is a member of the East Side Bike Club, stated, “It’s about what’s not happening over here – there is no immediacy. We can’t wait for the City’s plan – the corner of Bailey and East Delavan is a very busy intersection, with lots of businesses, services, and a school nearby. How many accidents will there be? How many deaths? We spend the same tax dollars over here on the East Side, but we don’t see any improvements, longterm or short-term.”
Johnson is right. We just can’t sit around waiting for the Bicycle Master Plan to unfold. If a street is not scheduled to get crosswalks or bike lanes until a surface mill and overlay is performed, then chances are it’s going to be too late for a few unlucky cyclists. That’s why the crew at GObike Buffalo has been implementing a series of tactical Complete Street “pop-ups.” The problem is, in order to conduct these pop-ups, GObike needs funding. The pop-ups have resulted in wide-sweeping successes, but there are still plenty of streets that could use some GObike love.
One area that is lacking in sufficient bike-ped safety infrastructure is the Fillmore District. In order to get the paint roller rolling, Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski has allocated $8,000 in discretionary grant funding that will be used to address traffic safety concerns in the Fillmore District. The funding will be directed towards grassroots street calming measures, until more formal and permanent solutions can be identified, and implemented. Once again, it all boils down to speeding up the Bicycle Master Plan, and not simply waiting for mill and overlay projects to come to pass, which is typically when street safety concerns are fully (and hopefully adequately) addressed.
Until a long term solution can be agreed upon by the stakeholders involved, this funding will be used to plan, design, permit and implement painted crosswalks and bike lanes to improve traffic safety in the Fillmore District.
“The legislative process often takes time, but the safety of Buffalo residents cannot wait. As covid restrictions ease and the weather warms up, roadways will become more active with drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists again. We must be proactive in ensuring streets are safe for everyone who uses them. Together, we’re improving public spaces for city residents one intersection at a time,” said Nowakowski.
“Thanks to the grant from Councilmember Nowakowski, GObike will have greater resources to fulfill its mission of creating safer roads and stronger communities,” said GObike Buffalo Executive Director, Justin Booth. “Buffalo has a strong bike culture that continues to grow. This funding will allow us to improve the safety conditions for cyclists and pedestrians throughout the Fillmore District as they navigate the city on two wheels.”
Images: Crosswalk striping project that Council Member Nowakowski participated in with GObike last summer at the corner of Hamburg Street and South Park Avenue, as part of National Bike Month