May 23, 2018
More than a dozen Western New York communities have passed laws to strengthen road safety.
Originally published by wgrz.com.
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A number of factors can contribute to any crashes involving a bicyclist or pedestrian, such as Tuesday's tragedy in North Tonawanda.
But more than a dozen cities, towns and villages in Western New York in the past several years have now implemented "Complete Streets" policies, part of a larger effort to create more safe roadway designs at the local level. Communities in nearly every corner of the region have joined the Complete Streets wave, ranging from Jamestown to Cuba to Niagara Falls. The plans are not necessarily binding, but they encourage lawmakers and decision-makers to carefully consider all road users -- not just drivers -- in their transportation designs and new construction projects.
The city of Buffalo was the first in New York to create a Complete Streets plan. More than one hundred municipalities across the state have now passed their own resolutions and laws.
Justin Booth, the executive director of GOBike Buffalo, said it's encouraging to see local governments make a concrete effort to reduce pedestrian deaths.
"It's not about restricting car access," he said, "but about creating equity in transportation system and making sure that however you choose to get around, you can do so safely."
Buffalo also developed a "master plan" to make itself one of the top bike-friendly cities in the United States. The plan, which includes design measures like adding dozens and dozens of miles of bike lanes on city streets, lists one of its goals as aspiring to "reach zero pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on an annual basis."
In many cities -- from Denver to Cleveland to New York City -- that goal is known as "Vision Zero."
"Which means one fatality is too many fatalities upon our roadway," Booth said. "And a lot of that comes down to designing our streets in the appropriate way to make sure everyone has safe access through it."