Background

Supervisor Higgins approached GObike in 2021 (while Supervisor-elect) to begin the process of applying for a Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation grant to conduct an extensive community engagement process and develop a feasibility study that connects the Allegheny River Valley Trail and the planned Southern Tier Trail to a system of greenways that would improve access from the school to the village.

Allegany-Limestone Middle High School is 2.2 miles from the Village of Allegany along a 45mph road with no sidewalks. These conditions present a barrier for any of the 626 students, 99 faculty and staff, and the 100 households along the route who would like to choose to travel using any mode other than a vehicle. Walking, bicycling, and walking with the use of strollers or assistive mobility devices has been shown to have significant benefits for individual and community wellness, both physically and mentally.
Among the Allegany-Limestone student body, a significant number of individuals are overweight (15.9%) and obese (20.9%) impacting predicted health outcomes (2020-2021). Additionally, 17% of town residents are 65 years of age or older, which is above the national average of 15%.

 

Between the Village and the Middle High School, people who regularly walk or ride bikes must currently use the shoulder of the road, exposed to vehicles and particularly vulnerable to vehicles traveling above the posted speed limit. This is especially concerning as many of the community’s sports fields are located adjacent to the school and without a sidewalk or trail to access them.

Community Engagement

Thank you to everyone who attended the January 12th meeting to discuss the proposed Allegany School Trail project; your time and input are greatly appreciated!

GObike and the Town of Allegany kicked off community engagement efforts in full, encouraging surrounding residents to discuss desired aspects of the trail from amenities to location, along with current conditions and potential trail options.

“The Town is excited to explore safer routes to school and for area residents to access the village and beyond,” said Allegany Town Supervisor Mike Higgins.

“We are very fortunate to have such strong partners for this project. Together, we can  improve safety and accessibility in Allegany for people out enjoying their town and region on foot or on bike. This is an integral part of our broader efforts to expand bike and pedestrian options throughout Cattaraugus County,” said GObike Buffalo Executive Director Justin Booth.

The feedback received by community members and local residents will be turned into a report and a proposed trail design by spring/summer 2023.

Project Timeline

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Common Questions

Have a question that you don’t see here? Please let us know. GObike works to empower communities through our projects, so we are happy to share the materials we use to prepare project recommendations. Project notes, presentations and reports are available in the linked Document Hub above.

Projects like the proposed Allegany School Trail require layers of approvals in order to be constructed. At this time, GObike’s scope is limited to assessing feasibility and developing preliminary design, which is the earliest stage. GObike will examine a number of factors including speed studies, current roadway usage, roadway measurements, and extensive public engagement with Five Mile Road residents, Allegany-Limestone Middle High School students and faculty, and Allegany community members, in order to make a recommendation on improvements.

Cattaraugus County will be the ultimate decision-maker for whether or not any changes are made to 5 Mile Rd. Further, any changes will require significant funding, which typically comes in the form of federal and state grants. These grants require Town of Allegany approval to submit. The Town of Allegany will decide whether or not to pursue grant funding following completion of the feasibility study.

The existence of the school on a roadway with no sidewalks or bike paths presents a barrier for any of the 626 students, 99 faculty and staff, and the 100 households along the route who would like to choose to travel using any mode other than a vehicle. Walking, bicycling, and walking with the use of strollers or assistive mobility devices has been shown to have significant benefits for individual and community wellness, both physically and mentally. GObike recognizes that many residents along 5 Mile Rd did not support the school’s construction at this location. While we cannot undo the past, we can improve upon the future by studying the conditions along 5 Mile Rd and providing recommendations for community review.

The Allegany School Trail feasibility study will examine conditions along 5 Mile Rd and provide recommendations to improve both safety and connectivity. One recommendation that might result from this study is the lowering of the speed limit; additionally, other traffic calming measures instituted through complete streets design – like the narrowing of lanes or creation of round-abouts near the junction of Buffalo Road and Five Mile Road – could potentially be recommended to reduce speed, improving both safety and connectivity for alternative transportation modes.

Greenways and bike trails increase connectivity of residents to amenities. Unlike private homes and residences, roadways are shared public spaces maintained by municipalities, and are therefore required to meet certain measures of accessibility in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); in its current condition, Five Mile Rd does not meet ADA standards. Any invasion of private property by individual trespassers should be addressed with local law enforcement, and could potentially occur with or without a trail.

Our data and observations support the fact that people – including students and teachers – are already walking and biking on this route. The establishment of a bike/ped trail will make their commute easier and safer, while encouraging others to partake in healthy active transportation options.