We're reviewing initial data from nearly 500 responses.
Whose voices are critical to kicking off this project?
Within .25 miles of the projected project area (Forest Ave, between Rees and Niagara Streets) we know there are roughly 4,500 residents. These residents most acutely affected by any pop up project we would implement on Forest Ave have been our primary focus for community engagement, while anyone who utilizes Forest Ave as a pedestrian, cyclist, driver or transit user has been welcome to provide input, too.
Of the 4,500 residents, a relevant sample size is 10% or 450 engagements from that community. Engagements are defined as survey responses, conversations on the street, relevant comments on related social media posts, or direct emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After round one of engagement, we’ve heard from about 150 members of the surrounding community, based on our interactions and the information survey respondents have provided. The remaining 350 have primarily come from other areas of the City of Buffalo.
What were our methods to reach them?
For those who love the whole engagement process, we have an extended transparency document to check out here. In brief, we identified Community Based Organizations such as WEDI, Somali Youth Organization and others, along with businesses such as The Corner Store, Daniela, Burning Books, 716 Monarch Apartments and others to drop flyers and ask them to talk to their communities and customers about providing input on our survey and offer assistance in doing so where needed. We also distributed over 700 flyers to homes in the surrounding blocks.
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12×18 posters were tied to street lamps lining Forest Ave, and were in eight different languages to catch the attention of the diverse residents living in this area of the city.
Finally, we included our survey in our monthly newsletter, in four different social media posts across three networks, and on the social feeds of our partner and peer organizations.
Why all this engagement before we even know what the project will look like?
Because input at this first stage will be utilized to design the project itself. Our name is GObike, but our primary charge is slowing traffic and increasing safety and accessibility for ALL users of our streets and roads. If the survey results indicate that no one wanted to see any new bike infrastructure, then it would not be included in our designs.
Also, it’s important that the community be heard from the start of a project, not just halfway through, nor just afterward. Those who are providing input and feedback throughout the process will have a greater sense of ownership of it, and when it comes time to petition the city to prioritize turning our pop up project into permanent infrastructure, it’s those community members who will be leading those efforts.
So what’s next?
Our Complete Streets Engineer, Jim Jones is working with our Community Engagement Coordinator, Paige Pryor, to analyze the survey results and input from other channels to determine key themes, desires and concerns from the community. Afterward, Jim will develop three different design options for Forest Avenue and we’ll restart our community engagement efforts all over again to help determine which design should be implemented. That will likely kick off in December 2021 and include more efforts to reach the neighborhood through January, 2022.
What’s the timeline for implementation?
We can never guarantee when we’ll kick off each phase due to numerous variables, including obtaining permits etc, but we do hope to “break ground” (begin painting) on this project in early spring 2022.
More to come! Stay tuned and engaged on our main project page!