In March of 2021, the Erie County Department of Health applied for team membership for the New York State Department of Health Physical Activity and Nutrition Program and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) who were collaborating on a New York State Virtual Walkability Action Institute (WAI) in April – August 2021. The Erie County WAI team members included Julia Gruspier, Public Health Educator Frank Cammarata, Kelly Dixon and myself through Mode Choice Engineering, PLLC.
The purpose of the Walkability Action Institute (WAI) is to prepare interdisciplinary teams to pursue policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) supports for walking and walkability. This action institute will provide teams with the most up-to-date academic and applied learning methods and will reinforce and support implementation of significant national public health policy statements promoting walking and walkability, such as the The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, Step It Up! Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities (SGCTA) and the Community Preventive Services Task Force’s Built Environment Recommendations.
The outcomes identified by the ECWAI team included, walkability policy education and awareness within Erie County and its municipalities and implementation of a project which demonstrates walkability. The team identified the intersection of Parkside Avenue and Linden Avenue as their collaborative choice for the demonstration project and were awarded $15,000 for implementation. The project was developed with City of Buffalo approval and an additional $15,000 from the Delaware district council.
The project will address the existing lack of ADA accessibility and excessively wide pavement radii at the intersection to provide safer continuous passage for pedestrians to the adjacent intersections of Depew Avenue and Crescent Avenue and the substandard sidewalks along Parkside Avenue as in passes underneath the Beltway-Subdivision railroad bridge.
The project will include extensive pavement markings that will narrow the vehicular travel lanes, add buffered and protected multi-use pathways and temporary ADA curb ramps connecting to existing sidewalks, protections at the intersection for bicycles, crosswalks and stop lines.
Initially, one of the proposed partners for the ECWAI team was the former Greater Buffalo Wellness Institute which was a primary advocate for walkability however due to personnel changes. My previous involvement with the Institute as well as me working with GObike and their experience with quick-build project implementation, communication and outreach led to Erie County contracting with GObike to implement the project and related components.
GObike will prepare various communications materials including project website, posters, flyers, pre and post data collection, project implementation and performance reporting.
GObike’s contract with the GBNRTC for providing assistance implementing the Bike Buffalo Niagara master plan and our expanding role in leading walkability advocacy throughout the region will help strengthen our choices in human powered mobility.