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GObike Buffalo, Buffalo Common Council push for safer streets statewide

Posted at 11:37 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 14:59:27-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Common Council passed a resolution supporting the Crash Victims Bill of Rights last week.

"It’s no small token at all whatsoever,” Council Member Ulysees Wingo said. “This is a big deal that this was unanimously passed, that all of a agree that these 8 bills ought to be passed through our state houses."

"That resolution doesn't move this forward, but it lets Albany know that the second largest city in the state is saying ‘let's make this happen,'" Kevin Heffernan from GObike Buffalo said.

Heffernan said the bill has three main parts:

1. To make it legal to reduce speed limits from 30 to 20 miles per hour across the state.

2. To make streets safer through design, like narrowing roads to reduce speeding.

3. Maintaining sidewalks and roads.

"Can an 8-year-old go out there? Can an 80-year-old go out there? That's a complete street,” Heffernan said. “It takes into account everyone, the transit user, the person in the wheelchair, it just doesn't only take into account car speed."

According to GObike Buffalo, 1,384 people were hit by a car while walking or riding a bike between 2017 and 2021 in Buffalo. 20 of those crashes were deadly.

Screen Shot 2022-04-11 at 9.22.20 PM.png
The data points above were provided by the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) and uploaded to Remix, a transit tool GObike uses to collect traffic and demographic data for its various projects. The map above shows vehicular crashes with pedestrians (red) and bicycles (orange) from January 1, 2017 – August 30, 2021.

"I’m pretty sure that put fear in a lot of people, not just myself,” Wingo said. “This is something that's extremely preventable."

Heffernan said crashes like these cost the state $15 billion each year and shows why changes are necessary.

"You will go slow, but you'll still flow,” Heffernan said. “So, for all the drivers who think 'this is going to double my commute time,' not really. We're talking about smart improvements."

Heffernan said he hopes to get these bills passed sometime this year.

"It’s not as if in 2023 we're going to see construction everywhere, but we are going to see it trickle through."

In a statement, Assemblyman William Magnarelli, Chairman of the NYS Assembly's Transportation Committee, said:

"The “eight bills” that comprise the “Crash Victims Rights & Safety Act” are currently under review by the Assembly Transportation Committee. They cover a wide range of topics including: the setting of local speed limits, construction of “Complete Streets” features, bicycle/pedestrian safety and the rights of victims in DMV proceedings. The Committee is working with the sponsors, advocates and relevant State agencies to address concerns. I support the overall goals of these bills to make our streets safer. However, the Committee must make sure they are drafted in a manner that will make them enforceable and avoid negative unintended consequences. That process is ongoing."

Heffernan encourages you to call your district’s assembly member to push for these bills to get passed.