With additional funds coming from the federal and state government, Buffalo can afford to move forward with its plans not just to create a more sustainable, safer, and more connected city, but also one that grants greater access and protection to its tax-paying citizens that cannot drive, or choose not to drive. As cities around the country expand space for people walking, cycling, rolling, and using transit, Buffalo is stepping forward to improve quality of life in neighborhoods in all directions.
Exciting times! However, these plans fall slightly short in their continued emphasis on the movement of cars in a city where nearly 1 in 4 households doesn’t own a vehicle, and in a neglected East Side where that number is closer to 1 in 3 households without a car.
This isn’t just about providing recreational opportunities to people thinking about cycling. By becoming a less car-dependent city, we can become more economically resilient. When jobs, services, entertainment are accessible by more than just car, they’re accessible to more people – making it easier to hire, reach customers, and those in need of care.
That link is right here.
The Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board, which GObike chairs, was able to review these plans in the spring. We sent a letter in June to then-Commissioner of Public Works Mike Finn about the plan’s shortcomings. You can read the board’s comments below:
Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Board
June 2, 2020
City of Buffalo Department of Public Works
65 Niagara Square
Buffalo, NY 14202
Dear Commissioner Finn,
At the May meeting of the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Board, we were presented designs for four projects including the Delaware Ave restriping plans, Downtown Entertainment District, BNMC: Virginia & Burton Streets, and the Bicycle Master Plan Phase 1. While there are welcome safety improvements in all the designs, they fall short in meeting the safety, health, environmental and equity goals to meet the Mayor’s vision of putting Buffalo at the forefront of the “mobility revolution” shared at this year’s state of the city address.
From 2014-2019 Buffalo has witnessed 2,245 crashes resulting in injury or death involving pedestrians and bicyclists on our streets. With physical safety concerns regarded as one of the most significant barriers to cycling, here too the burden of injury and risk is wildly disproportionate. Latino cyclists face fatality rates 23% higher than whites, and for African Americans, they are 30% higher.
In his introduction to the bicycle master plan, Mayor Brown stated, “Despite the fact that neighborhoods of color have, on average, less access to automobiles than other neighborhoods – many of these same neighborhoods have lacked the resources and infrastructure to make riding a bicycle a safe and attractive option. Research consistently shows that 60% of people would ride more often if these facilities were available to them.”
The recommendations provided share this perspective. The movement of vehicle traffic should not take precedence over people’s health and lives. Please take this into consideration as the design process proceeds.
Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Board
– – – – – –
Bicycle Master Plan Phase 1 PIN 5762.65
Presented by the Department of Public Works on May 4, 2020
The catalyst projects in the Bicycle master Plan were selected to provide: • Connections to existing bike facilities
- Opportunity to induce new riders immediately
- Linkage to key destinations
- Equal distribution between east and west side neighborhoods
- Clear support from stakeholders and community members
While some of the details of the projects provide some of the attributes originally identified in the plan, it leaves much to be desired while eliminating many of the more aspirational projects identified in the “priority network’. With $1.8 million awarded through a grant for these projects, it is discouraging to see the resources spread across so few projects with vehicle movement prioritized at the expense of our roadways most vulnerable users.
The design proposed is a significant safety improvement in this neighborhood for bicyclists to access UB south campus in addition to improving ADA accessibility and high visibility crosswalks for pedestrians. Recommendations include:
- Medians at Minnesota should be extended with pavement markings to slow left turn vehicles and provide improved refuge for pedestrians.
- The signal at Parkridge and Winspear needs high-resolution detection and signal timing.
- Curb ramps should be replaced at Kensington intersection and curb radii reduced.
The design proposed is a significant safety improvement in this neighborhood for bicyclists in addition to improving ADA accessibility and high visibility crosswalks for pedestrians Recommendations include:
- Add green skip marking thru E. Amherst St for SB Comstock bike lane. • Use 2 ADA ramps in NE corner of Comstock/Hewitt to provide better pedestrian accessibility.
- Add shark teeth yield symbols for SB bike lane at south crosswalk of Dartmouth • Medians at Minnesota should be extended with pavement markings to slow left turn vehicles and provide improved refuge for pedestrians.
- Amherst Street
- Signals at Main and E. Amherst as well as Bailey and E. Amherst need high resolution detection and signal timing
- Omit the exclusive WB left Turn Only lane at Main Street
- Add a bike box for bicyclists at Main Street
- From Main Street to Manhattan
o Modify vehicle travel lane width from 11′ to 10′ and increase bicycle lane width from 5′ to 6 ‘
- From Manhattan to Parkrdige
o Modify travel lanes from 12′ to 10′ and increase buffered bike lanes from 5′ to 7 ‘
- Switch eastbound parking lane with bike lane to provide parking protected bike lane between Main Street and Manhattan
- Berkshire Avenue currently has a one-way 8’ wide bicycle lane; it should be a two way cycle track and the intersections at E. Amherst and Parkridge should be updated to address this.
- At Bailey Avenue
o In the east bound lane, eliminate the vehicle left turn lane and add a bicycle box for cyclists to turn left on Bailey and continue east bound
o Intersection treatments and a dedicated bicycle signal should also support bicycle traffic heading eastbound
- From Bailey to Suffolk Street
o Eliminate the 8’ buffer and provide a dedicated 6’ bicycle lane with a 2’ buffer in the east bound direction instead of the shared lane marking
- 85th percentile speeds are greater than 30 MPH (GBNRTC MS2). Reduce travel lanes to 10′ and add additional traffic calming strategies throughout the entire corridor where there are only shared lane markings present
- Signal at Utica/Richmond Utica/Elmwood Utica/Delaware Utica/Linwood Utica/Main Utica/Michigan Utica/Purdy Utica/Jefferson Utica/Wohlers Utica/Fillmore need high resolution detection and signal timing
- 9′ parking lane and 11′ travel lanes are concerning for “dooring” incidents • Define buffered bike lane, WB at Elmwood to avoid 20′ travel lane, STA 46+70 to STA 48+50
- Stop Lines should parallel crosswalks to incur left turning speed reductions from NB/SB streets
- From Linwood Ave to Michigan Ave.
o Maintain bicycle lane width at 6’ by reducing parking to 7’
- Remove 13′ outside lanes between NB and SB Humboldt Pkwy
o Utilize extra space for dedicated lanes/ wider sidewalks
- Convert Utica/Humboldt intersections to mini-roundabouts
- Either eliminate parking along Virginia or turn it into a one-way street for vehicles to maintain a dedicated bicycle facility through either buffered bicycle lanes or a cycle track as was identified in the Bicycle Master Plan. Shared lane markings along this corridor are unacceptable.
- Signal at Elmwood/Virginia, Delaware/Virginia, Franklin/Virginia, Main/Virginia high resolution detection and signal timing
- Intersection of Virginia and S. Elmwood
o S. Elmwood north of the intersection already has bicycle lanes present and heading south there are plans for a cycle track. It appears that from the plans provided that the sidewalk along the west side of the street is being extended without consideration impacts of the planned future bicycle facility.
o With only 4880 AADT along Virginia Street heading west of this intersection, the left hand turning movement from S. Elmwood is not necessary and decreases the safety at this intersection for pedestrians and cyclists.
o The exiting bicycle lanes along S. Elmwood should be restriped and left hand turning movements for cyclists onto Virginia Street to head east should be a priority to safely facilitate through this intersection with bike boxes and a two-stage turning queue box.
- Intersection of Virginia and Delaware
o While two stage turns may increase bicyclist comfort in many locations, this configuration typically results in increased delay for bicyclists. Bicyclists now need to receive two separate green signal indications (one for the through street, followed by one for the cross street) to turn.
o The dedicated right hand turn lane on heading southbound on Delaware Ave needs to be eliminated and “No turn on red” signage needs to be in place on all legs of the intersection to provide safety for bicyclists but especially for pedestrians.
▪ A bus bulb for improved transit access and reducing pedestrian crossing distances should replace the right hand turn lane.
▪ This treatment should be added for each leg of the intersection with a bus stop and curb extensions for the legs that currently have hash marks to eliminate vehicles parking close to the crosswalks to
maintain safe sight lines.
- Design is a more effective mechanism then signage and
enforcement, especially when right hand turning movements
are already being eliminated.
o Bike boxes need to be installed in addition to the two-stage turning queue box.
o The safest design at this intersection would be to develop a “Dedicated intersection” with the goal to increase visibility and focus on reducing turn speeds, which the current design does not accomplish.
- Intersection of Virginia and Franklin
o This intersection should be redesign to improve pedestrian safety and access as well bicyclists.
o To reduce pedestrian crossing distances and increase visibility, creating a safer overall bicyclist and pedestrian environment, curb extensions should be added along all legs of the intersection establishing a gateway treatment.
o Bike boxes need to be installed in addition to the two-stage turning queue box.
- Install curb extensions at the Virginia/ N. Pearl intersection.
- Continue the bike lane through the side street intersections. The typical treatment is peg-a-track (dotted line), plus chevrons. NACTO shows the options here• Intersection of Virginia and Main Street
o With an existing project along Virginia east of Main Street in addition to this plan, their needs to be consideration of improved bicycle and pedestrian movements through this intersection as well. While it is recognized that a plan is being developed for Main Street, implementation is several years off. It is inappropriate to disregard the need to develop safe crossings for pedestrian and bicyclists at this intersection.
Lafayette Square to Clinton Street
- Bicycle lanes should be against the curbs and buffered if not protected with the can standing lane/parking lane on the opposite side to eliminate vehicles parking in the lanes and creating conflicts.
- Utilize existing curb extension at southeast corner to provide a protectedintersection maintaining the bicycle facility through the curb extension and include a high-visibility crosswalk across Clinton Street at this location.
Broadway to Lafayette Square
- Shared lane markings are an inappropriate treatment for this location especially with traffic volumes only in the 5100-5700 AADT. Removal of a travel lane to provide room for a one-way buffered or protected bicycle lane is the only safe option along this corridor especially because it is on an incline.
Ellicott Street between Clinton and Broadway/ William/ Lafayette Square • At Clinton Street bike boxes need to be installed in addition to the two-stage turning queue box.
- Ellicott Street needs to be a two-way facility for bicyclists with either buffered lanes on either side of the street or a two-way cycle track.
Intersection of Ellicott/ Broadway/ William/ Lafayette Square
- With the central business district exhibiting the most bicycle crashes in the entire city over the last five years, the lack of any improvements through this intersection is discouraging and clearly prioritizes vehicle turning movements over the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.
- The crosswalk along the east leg of the intersection is too long and a pedestrian refuge island is necessary.
- The skip markings for the bicycle lane at Blossom Alley stand in stark contrast to the lack of any markings through the intersection.