The City of Buffalo Department of Public Works has proposed a temporary restriping project for Gates Circle on Delaware Avenue as part of a larger project between North Street and Forest Avenue, with a permanent design recommended in the future after they identify additional funds. After reviewing the proposed plan, community members hired an outside engineering firm to conduct a peer review of the proposed plan. Their recommendations: do not proceed with the current striping plan.

Tune in on Monday, February 1, at 5:30 pm, to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board to learn more about the peer review recommendations via GObike’s Facebook page.   

Gerald Kelly and George Grasser are both residents at Canterbury Woods Gates Circle, Buffalo’s newest urban continuing care retirement community. Canterbury Woods boasts the Gates Circle location is “urban, contemporary, and close to everything, this is a community that confirms what you already know: how you live has everything to do with where you live. Your downtown Buffalo lifestyle is intimately linked to the city itself, the restaurants you enjoy, the shops you frequent, and the neighborhoods you stroll.” In summary, it’s a walkable, urban location, a perfect scenario for its senior residents. 

The only problem, of course, is Gates Circle itself. Wide travel lanes with poorly designed motor vehicle approaches and exits encourage high vehicular speeds, resulting in high crash rates for motor vehicles and highly uncomfortable to downright dangerous for people walking and biking. Additionally, the poorly located pedestrian crossings are unsafe, inconvenient, and unfriendly. Access to the historic circle and foundation is unsafe to impossible. The pavement to greenspace ratio does not honor Olmsted’s vision.

Thus, when the City of Buffalo’s Department of Public Works outlined a redesign of the historical circle, many community members were excited at the opportunity to fix this long-standing dangerous area. The City of Buffalo put forth a temporary restriping plan, with intended implementation for 2021, with a long-term design expected sometime in the future once funds are identified. Due to the high crash rate at the circle, a specific federal funding program that would provide 100% of the funding to address this type of issue has been presented to the city. It is up to the city to prioritize and program that additional funding source.

After reviewing the city’s plan, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Grasser did not feel the proposal sufficiently addressed improving walking and biking safety.

The two hired Dan Burden of Blue Zones, the firm responsible for the national award-winning redesign of the Village of Hamburg, to provide an engineering peer review of the restriping plan. 

Blue Zones recommendation–do not proceed with the city’s proposed interim design.  

Notes Blue Zones:

“Given the current risks associated with Gates Circle due to high speeds and crashes, the Blue Zones Built Environment team does not recommend that the restriping project proceed.”

Additionally, “reducing crashes should be the overriding issue at this intersection and proceeding with the current striping plan may increase the City’s liability. The Blue Zones Built Environment team recommends that the City apply for a change order, removing Gates Circle from this project, and begin engaging with the Federal Highway Administration as the number of crashes warrants an intervention.”

However, the City of Buffalo is still on track with their 2021 striping plan. Notes the DPW:

“the City of Buffalo believes the City’s planned striping incrementally improves the area, to the fullest extent of our existing contracting mechanism and funding source, and leads to the Blue Zones concept in the future.”

Thus, the question is this: should the cheaper and mediocre design be striped while more comprehensive funding sources are secured, or should the City of Buffalo wait to identify the resources to do it right? 

View the Blues Zones entire recorded presentation here.