April 23, 2019
GObike has been working for over 10 years to support active mobility for cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders. In that time, we have never seen a development that advances our mission and the City of Buffalo’s goals for social equity, sustainability and access to the extent of the proposed 201 Ellicott project.
Published in the Buffalo News
With a focus on affordable housing, a fresh food market, public gathering space and a mobility hub, the project embodies a “people-first” approach to development.
We have partnered with Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. to plan a mobility hub that supports access options and provides commuter benefits to all 201 Ellicott residents and employees of the fresh food market, including guaranteed rides home, a tenant mobility portal and personalized assistance.
Downtown-area businesses can take advantage of similar mobility hub benefits through Go Buffalo Niagara’s mobility portal, a transportation program that helps commuters travel to and from work with ease. By encouraging local businesses to utilize this service, our region can begin to cultivate an environment that encourages green commuting behavior and diminishes overall concerns about parking.
There is a perception that downtown has a parking shortage and that this project would exacerbate it. In fact, there is an abundance of parking in downtown Buffalo, with thousands of spaces in excess of demand during peak weekday hours, according to a recent parking study by Buffalo Place. However, those spaces are not always immediately adjacent to destinations and many people do not want to walk.
As someone who lives and works downtown, it is not parking that keeps people away but the lack of walkability. From poorly maintained sidewalks, wide thoroughfares with high vehicle volumes traveling above posted speed limits, vehicles parked on sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes along with vast blocks of parking lots – our downtown lacks the people and amenities to make walking attractive.
Vibrancy is built by activating our streets for people. Buffalo must continue to advance infill developments and cede more of its parking areas, while focusing on walkability. This in turn will help create a more active and vibrant downtown on evenings and weekends.
Since the 1950s, federal and state governments have heavily subsidized driving. Gas taxes, tolls and vehicle user fees don’t cover half the costs to maintain public roads.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group recently reported that each American household pays more than $1,100 in general taxes per year to cover the difference. We have become too accustomed to wide roads and cheap, abundant parking. This bias has severely suppressed the mobility of individuals who are unable to drive due to cost, physical ability, or age. As a result, parking is treated like a public good when it is actually just private property storage.
201 Ellicott is a significant, positive shift from business as usual.