‘Map’ for Access: Complete Street Ideas Roam the Forum | News, Sports, Jobs

Kevin Kearns, right, and Rebecca Wurster both gave presentations at a Thursday forum on the Complete Streets initiatives in Dunkirk and Fredonia.

Proponents of the complete streets ideology swarmed the Fredonia Opera House last week.

A forum on improving non-motorist access to local streets featured four speakers who hopped up, down and circled around the issue of making roads and public spaces in general more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists.

Kevin Kearns, longtime administrator of SUNY Fredonia and currently special assistant to President Stephen Kolison, explained Central Connection, a local first step in the Complete Streets campaign. He called it an early example, a collaborative effort between the City of Dunkirk, the Village of Fredonia and SUNY Fredonia.

“It’s a roadmap for investment and development along Central Avenue,” and a recognition among the three entities that collaborative efforts are more likely to result in grants, Kearns said.

“The main thing was to try to co-brand the region rather than compete for resources individually,” he said.

OBSERVE Photos by MJ Stafford Dunkirk Pier forms an integral part of the central link between the city of Dunkirk, SUNY Fredonia and the village of Fredonia.

Central Connection’s goal was to increase investment, help build long-term partnerships and build excitement in the community, he said.

Kearns called it a “a successful first effort” this led to improvements at Dunkirk Pier and Barker Common in Fredonia, as well as branded signage along Central Avenue and a series of community bike rides.

Complete streets design principles should be considered for federally and state-funded New York State Department of Transportation projects, according to James Cuozzo, a DOT planner. All road users – walkers and cyclists, not just motorists – must be considered in projects that fall under this rule, approved in 2011 by the state, he continued.

Rebecca Wurster, a Chautauqua County planner, said Complete Streets initiatives are meant to provide both health and economic benefits to communities. They are meant to attract people, which leads to business investment. She touted Niagara Street in Buffalo as a booming area due to work on Complete Streets, which attracted significant mixed-use development.

The idea is to make streets less confusing and more efficient, and provide more space for cyclists and pedestrians, Wurster continued. “It’s not mandatory for all streets and roads and it really depends on the needs and requirements of the community,” she says.

The other speaker was Justin Booth, Executive Director of GoBikeBuffalo. He said preliminary projects can be done relatively inexpensively, such as painting lines to designate bike lanes. He advocated that such work be done as a way to promulgate the principles of Complete Streets before grant funding arrives.

Street design is hugely important, he said. “How can we design our streets better, but how do we maintain them once they’re built? »

The speakers answered questions from the audience after their presentations. The first question asked if Complete Streets was manageable in a winter climate, like what this area has.

“Many communities around the world invest in Complete Streets and invest in their upkeep throughout the year,” Booth said, giving Minneapolis an example. “It’s not about the weather, it’s about making sure it’s safe in all seasons.”

Kearns said, “The locality has to spend money to maintain all these projects once they are developed.”

Responding to a later question, forum members generally agreed that road markings and signage are the obvious things “ripe fruit,” the best bets for easy, cheap and quick projects.

Booth was applauded for his answers to a question about protecting pedestrians at crosswalks. “It should be about people first, not how fast we move cars,” he said, calling for a refocusing of transport policies.

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