BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Six west side neighbors and a group of volunteers say they accomplished something the city has failed to do for years — paint crosswalks to make it safer for the community.
“The city has had ample time and opportunity to invest in our streets,” declared Jalonda Hill.
A small group of West Side residents & volunteers painted these cross walks over the weekend on Hampshire Street to make it safer for pedestrians. They responded after the death of 12-year-old boy struck & killed outside his oh d school last week. @WKBW pic.twitter.com/3i6IJIxulD— eileen buckley (@eileenwkbw) November 23, 2021
Hill is with Colored Girls Bike Too and is an advocate for street infrastructure in communities that historically don't get attention.
“I am outraged. I am angry and I really think it's time for the city to take action,” Hill remarked.
This past weekend, a neighborhood team borrowed a striping machine from a church and spent about $200 on paint to stripe four Hampshire Street intersections near Buffalo Public School 18 where 12-year-old Marcell Yanders was a student.
Marcell was struck and killed last week while crossing the street outside his school. This tragedy prompted residents to take action, saying they want to make the streets safer for pedestrians.
“We would like to see the city prioritize our students and the health of pedestrians and make it a walk-able city,” explained Elizabeth Meg Williams, president, Upper 14th Street Block Club.
Williams says the group researched federal rules on how to paint the stripes legally and no one stopped them, not even Buffalo Police.
"Actually, two patrol cars drove by while we were working — one of them waved,” replied Williams.
“If a group of volunteers, with no training, can show up and put the money together and create all this signage, just image what the city could do,” reflect Matt Kenyon, resident.
Kenyon, who lives in the neighborhood helped with the striping project, even stenciling Marcell's name on the sidewalk.
“It’s just heartbreaking that students are left to their own devices to cross streets in the busiest rush hour of the day,” Kenyon noted.
Loved ones gathered to say goodbye to Marcell at his funeral service Tuesday at True Bethel Church in Buffalo.
City spokesperson Mike DeGeorge issued this statement Tuesday, saying "hearts and prayers remain with the family.”
The statement also noted at this point, investigators say they believe the boy did not cross at the intersection when he was struck.
"The fatal accident was a tragic incident. Our hearts and prayers remain with the family during this most difficult time. Accident investigators have said speed does not appear to be a factor at this time and the accident did not occur at the intersection. The City always makes things that can improve public safety a priority."
Mike DeGeorge, City of Buffalo
Although the city says they believe Marcell crossed in the middle of the block, it didn't deter these volunteers from making those crosswalks safe for everyone.
“However, had there been crosswalks maybe he wouldn't be crossing in the middle of the street,” said Williams.
“It shouldn't take a tragedy like this for the city to take action,” stated Hill.
But neighbors say the city needs to do more to improve all Buffalo streets and has a strong message for the mayor.
“Get up — take a walk, a drive, a bicycle ride around your city and see what's going on — on the ground and invest in your community — invest in your city,” Hill replied.