Opening Main Street to traffic is a mistake
Buffalo has recently embarked on an aggressive citywide program designed to make our neighborhood streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. For what it’s worth, it seems to me that the car-free, downtown pedestrian mall, already in place, would fit in very nicely with those lofty plans, but ironically, in this key area, our civic leaders are pursuing just the opposite approach. Their outdated project, now in its infancy, to return vehicle traffic to Main Street will seriously endanger public safety and no aggregate of fences, electric gates, caution signs, “sharrows” or striped pavement markings will mitigate the problem.
Opening Main Street to traffic, I believe primarily to accommodate delivery trucks, makes about as much sense as dredging the harbor to facilitate access to the Commercial Slip. The department store era on Main Street is long gone, but restaurants, drugstores, groceries and limited small-scale retailing can still exist today. Their success will depend almost exclusively on foot traffic generated by the recent influx of residents, tourists, commuters and patrons of the arts and entertainment venues.
Preserving and enhancing a relaxed atmosphere, where those folks can move about safely to shop, arrive at work, meet for lunch, attend theater or board the metro, should be our primary concern, not promoting the ease of truck delivery.
Michael J. Zobel