No Lights, No Roundabouts, No Change

21 Oct

At the corner of Greiner and Shimerville in the town of Clarence there was until recently a stupid 4-way stop. The DOT wanted to improve traffic flow there and proposed a roundabout. The title of this post is the text from a bunch of signs that popped up in the immediate vicinity, which nicely reflects WNY’s attitude about everything, everywhere. (They eventually installed lights). 

On Millersport Highway, between Sheridan Drive and Eggert, there are five lanes of traffic and not a single pedestrian crosswalk. How is this allowed to be? 

View Larger Map

On Maple at Culpepper, a middle-schooler died trying to traverse five lanes of traffic in order to reach a playground. Amherst is going to “study” whether a crosswalk somewhere nearby might be a good idea. The girl’s family is raising money for “Erin’s Crossings” to advocate for a law requiring crosswalks near every playground. Transit Road is a killing field, involving death after death after death after death. With crosswalks a mile apart from each other, it’s routine for people to just cross wherever, and it’s even more dangerous in the wintertime when no one plows the sidewalks and pedestrians are forced into the street. To die. 

Hamburg was able to get the DOT to install roundabouts and make the village more pedestrian-friendly and picturesque. Why can’t the DOT do that everywhere? 

View Larger Map

Finally, here is a map that the New Millenium Group released in 2003, showing that downtown Buffalo is made up mostly of parking. Parking downtown is still a 50s era clusterfuck, and nothing’s been done in 10 years to address it, manage it, or to provide some sort of comprehensive plan and modernization effort. 

Just make sure not to kill any hapless pedestrians trying to cross a road on your way downtown. 

13 Responses to “No Lights, No Roundabouts, No Change”

  1. BufChester October 21, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    That NMG map was inaccurate and misleading when it was put out a decade ago and it’s even worse now.

    • townline October 21, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      What is incorrect about it? And I believe this is the same map as they put out – they didn’t make it “worse.”

      • BufChester October 21, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

        Time has made it worse, because it is less accurate. So, no fault of NMG, but it is worse at accurately portraying the parking situation.

    • Chuck Banas October 21, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

      Yes, please tell us what was or is inaccurate or misleading about the 2003 downtown parking map. As one of the authors of the diagram, I’d appreciate some constructive insight.

      • BufChester October 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

        Misleading: The map makes no distinction between a parking ramp (like the one across Pearl from Key Center) that is nothing but parking and a large building that has parking beneath it (like Main Place Mall). So, the reader of this map, lacking other information would come away with a very skewed impression of the amount of land area that was devoted to parking, and its impact on Downtown.

        Inaccurate: The map shows parking in the following locations where it does not exist (and did not when the map was created):

        North side of Seneca between Pearl and Franklin
        North-East corner of Main and Tupper
        West side of Delaware between Tracy and Johnson Park North
        West side of Washington half the depth of the lots toward Main Street along 1/2+ of the block.
        South-East corner of Ellicott and Huron
        North-East corner of Ellicott and Tupper
        South-West corner of Oak and Goodell
        East side of Delaware between Tupper and Edward
        (and others)

        Of course with the passage of time other inaccuracies have crept in.

        Webster Block
        North-East Corner of Main and Chippewa
        Expansion of ramp across Pearl from Key
        Demolition of ramp across Pearl from Hyatt

      • Chuck Banas October 22, 2013 at 12:15 am #

        Ten years ago, this map was part of an NMG “Park Buffalo” press conference and subsequent Buffalo News piece, intending to show the wide availability of parking in the Central Business District, not to simply show surface parking. This was done in order to help dispel the tired but common perception then (and often today) that “there’s no parking downtown.” If I may say so, the project was somewhat successful in changing the conversation about parking and transportation. Everyone remembers this map. Not too shabby for an all-volunteer effort.

        Core data was taken from a 2000 City of Buffalo study by Desman Associates and, as I recall, the UB Regional Institute. This was augmented by our own on-the-ground observations, as we knew the map had many small inaccuracies. These errors were corrected where we noticed them—remember that this was before quality online aerial mapping was freely available—and we were well aware that a few errors would slip through. Except for a few glaring items, however, the mistakes were small, and the smaller omissions balanced out the handful of other misidentifications. The picture presented is quite accurate. There was no appreciable skew, and therefore virtually no chance of a “very skewed impression” as you put it.

        In any case, you’re correct that there were a few misidentified parking lots. But the mapping criteria we used were conservative precisely for this reason. Post event, I compiled a log of errata which revealed that there were an equal or greater number of surface lots that were not pictured on the map, including:

        * Lot on west side of Franklin, north of Edward
        * 1/3 of the lot behind St. Louis Church, NW corner of Main & Edward
        * Part of the large lot north of the Courier-Express, near NE corner of Main & Goodell
        * Entire lot between Maple & Michigan, north of Goodell
        * Small lot NE of corner of Tupper & Franklin
        * 1/2 the lot on NW corner of Tupper & Franklin
        * Entire lot SW corner of Washington & Tupper
        * Entire lot SW corner of Washington & Tupper
        * Small lot SW corner of Tupper & Ellicott
        * 1/3 of lot near and south of the Delaware Avenue Methodist Church (now Babeville)
        * All underground parking at the former Federal Building (now Avant)
        * Lot at NE corner of Delaware & Huron
        * Several small lots along east side of Michigan between Broadway & William
        * SW corner of Mohawk & Washington
        * Strip lot in front of Firefighters HQ, along Court between 7th & Staats Streets
        * 1/4 of the lot surrounding Channel 7, along Court Street
        * Lot behind post office along 7th Street
        * Lot at corner of Church & Bingham
        * Lot at corner of Exchange & Michigan
        * 1/3 of lot bounded by Perry, South Park, Columbia, & Michigan
        * Entire lot along north side of South Park, east of Michigan
        * 1/3 of lot along south side of South Park, east of Michigan

        There were others. In addition, a few small lots were misplaced, but otherwise spatially accurate. Correcting the map by adding all of the items above and subtracting the mistaken items (including the ones you listed) would produce an identical impression to any reader.

        Finally, I agree entirely that the 2003 map doesn’t reflect the realities of 2013. There has been some encouraging infill, some of the most notable examples of which you list, but certainly a long way to go if we want to eliminate a meaningful portion of the red on the 2003 map. Let’s hope this nascent trend accelerates!

      • BufChester October 22, 2013 at 7:47 am #

        Point taken. Because the map has been used so routinely to convey some variant of Alan’s “showing that downtown Buffalo is made up mostly of parking” argument I wasn’t aware that its original intent was to show how available parking was. In that context making the Rath Building look like a ramp makes sense, but it certainly opens the map to misuse of the “there’s nothing downtown but parking” sort.

        It would be great to see a 2013 version of that map that both takes advantage of advances in technology and the changes on the ground. Maybe something that could be crowd sourced via Google Maps or wiki something or other.

  2. Sean Danvers October 21, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Even with crosswalks it can get pretty dicey for pedestrians here. People just aren’t used to looking for people when they go wheeling through a right on red, or green arrow that permits crossing across the flow. OTOH, there’s plenty of pedestrians round here who just assume they are seen day or night and dont need to be aware of their surroundings.
    Looking at you, jogger on Main St. the other day who cut in front of my car without stopping when I had a green light.

  3. Tracy Diina October 21, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Awww I miss the NMG

    • Chuck Banas October 22, 2013 at 12:55 am #

      Me too, Tracy!

  4. Nate! October 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    What do you expect from communities designed based on a car culture? Sidewalks and crosswalks are a formality to be pushed down to the lowest priority. If you can’t afford a car to get around in these areas you should be prepared to take your life into your own hands dealing with crossing these streets and taking public transit. Honestly, I’m surprised there are as many sidewalks as there are on Transit and Maple.

  5. rhmaccallum October 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    “The title of this post is the text from a bunch of signs that popped up in the immediate vicinity, which nicely reflects WNY’s attitude about everything, everywhere.”
    Round-a-bouts? What did you expect Alan? Your living in the only remaining country in the world that just can’t seem to figure out the metric system. It’s not WNY Alan. You just notice it more here because you live here.

  6. Michael Johnson October 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    People were very against the idea of roundabouts in the Village of Hamburg and they have proven to be safer and more efficient in the flow of traffic along Main and Buffalo Streets. Of course, this hasn’t stopped people from complaining about them, but oh well.

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