Pedestrian crossings needed at Gates Circle

The announcement by Kaleida Health to transform the former Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle into a vast mixed-use housing complex is indeed exciting news for Buffalo. An important issue that should be addressed during the environmental review process is the almost total lack of safe pedestrian crossings in Gates Circle and other immediate areas of the project. Currently, it is virtually impossible to safely cross the circle to any of the adjacent streets, including Chapin Parkway, one of the city’s most attractive Olmsted parkways. It is also difficult to walk safely from the hospital site onto Delaware Avenue in the direction of Forest Lawn, another prime nearby walking, biking and jogging destination.

This project should include a multitude of well-marked crosswalks and appropriate signage allowing walkers, bikers and joggers to cross at each of the spokes of the traffic circle, with short crossing distances and refuge islands provided. It must be made clear, through signage, pavement markings and other means, that pedestrians have the right of way and that vehicles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Since there will be a diversity of residents in the project, including active seniors and even children, walkability and pedestrian safety should be of paramount importance to the developers and city officials. Making this a truly walkable community is a goal well worth striving for. In fact, it’s imperative for the success of the endeavor.

Jim Koelmel