So, Why Are We Painting Crosswalks In Niagara Falls?
Complete Streets + Tactical Urbanism + Educational Partners
You may have noticed colorfully painted crosswalks and bike sharrows popping up on Forest and Independence Avenues and Niagara and Third Streets in Niagara Falls. Great – That’s the point. There are more coming.
Artful crosswalks and bike sharrows are designed to alert motorists and pedestrians of a safe crossing option. Sharrows are designed to remind motorists that bicyclists have the right to use the roadways too. The implementation of both are part of the “Complete Streets” strategy that has become more prevalent in recent years throughout the United States.
Complete Streets is a transportation policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation. Complete Streets allow for safe travel by those walking, cycling, driving automobiles, riding public transportation, or delivering goods.
Implementation of a Complete Streets policy in Niagara Falls has started as any successful endeavor should – with strong partnerships. Niagara Falls Community Development has partnered with GObike Buffalo, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara and the Niagara Falls City School District to use safer student crossings to prove the tangible benefits of Complete Streets. In May 2017, GObike Buffalo kicked off the effort at Niagara Street School with funding assistance from the P2 Collaborative of Western New York and the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara. GObike Buffalo hosted a Saturday neighborhood workshop to walk and analyze the needs of the neighborhood with residents, parents, members of the Niagara Street School staff, Niagara Falls Community Development staff and Mayor Dyster. The results was a report called for two clearly defined crosswalks on Niagara Street, adjacent to the school, among other features. On September 15, 2017, our stakeholders and Niagara Street students from several grade levels picked up paint rollers, and changed their neighborhood’s streetscape. On September 29, 2017, Gaskill Preparatory School was next, rethinking Forest and Independence Avenues. We excited to say that five additional Niagara Falls City Schools scheduled for artful crosswalks this fall.
Asking Niagara Falls students, of all ages, to design and paint unique crosswalks at their schools adds the all important element of local creativity. They all have done such a great job with these projects. If our goal is for students to cross streets safely, it makes complete sense to ask them to help design those crossing. While we may be focusing on students right now, that same principle can and should be applied to all citizens that want to take part in such an effort.
Too often, governments find reasons to say no. By doing so, scores of innovation opportunities and meaningful community interactions are lost. Yes, artful crosswalks require a standard way of doing business to change. Artful crosswalks take more time than a standard traffic marking. Road closures are required. People may be temporarily inconvenienced. The addition of students into a road project requires complete closures, for at least two hours. A simple task of creating a crosswalk becomes a logistical project with many more participants than usual. We believe that the colorful results are worth the extra effort.
The City of Niagara Falls is fortunate to have an administration and Police Department that sees the value of complete streets and student involvement. We have a City School District that wants to expand its curriculum into the neighborhoods. We have partners like GObike Buffalo and the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara that offer the resources and technical expertise needed to reimagine everyday spaces. These are the reasons that we are paining crosswalks in Niagara Falls.
Have an idea that could make a Niagara Falls street safer and more colorful? Please contact Seth Piccirillo, Director of Niagara Falls Community Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org