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GoBike Buffalo looks to create safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians

Posted at 6:23 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 18:23:51-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Reckless driving – something Kevin Heffernan of GObike Buffalo said has no place in Buffalo.

"It’s killing people, it's killing children, young adults, our elderly,” Heffernan said.

One week ago, 27-year-old Shauntia Dickinson of Buffalo was killed by a hit and run driver while crossing near Bailey and Broadway.

"More important than car speed and speed of commute is lives being saved,” Heffernan said.

He said pedestrian deaths should not be something that happens, even once a year. And Heffernan said facing these issues starts by doing two things: one, decreasing city speed limits and two, redesigning roads and intersections

"It’s commonsense legislation to lower the speed limit,” Heffernan said.

The speed limit at the intersection of Bailey and Broadway is currently 30 miles per hour.

According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, 50% of pedestrians survive when hit by a car going that speed. However, the survival rate jumps to 90% when the speed drops to 20 miles per hour.

Heffernan said he would like to see the speed limit reduced to 20 miles per hour, but it is illegal to do so in the state right now. So, Heffernan said redesign is the next option.

"When street is very wide and straight it feels like you should be going fast,” Heffernan said.”

Heffernan used the 198 as an example. The speed limit there was decreased from 50 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour following the death of 3-year-old Maksym Sugorovskiy. Sugorovskiy was killed in 2015 when a car veered off the roadway into Delaware Park after the driver fell asleep.

Heffernan said, the speed limit change does not dramatically impact commute times.

"People lost a total of 27 seconds end to end and acted like it was 27 minutes,” Heffernan said.

There are several bills currently on the table in Albany as part of the ‘Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act.’

The bills include making it possible to lower speed limits as well as increasing funding for street redesigns, like adding roundabouts and narrowing roads.

But Heffernan said the change also needs to be home grown with local people getting involved.

“We need to design our streets to be safer if we actually care about lowering pedestrian deaths that are dramatically on the rise,” Heffernan said.