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Watch for cyclists in new bike lanes

Cyclists in Buffalo have a problem. Don’t get me wrong – the recent Complete Streets legislation has resulted in miles of new street markings, signs and dedicated lanes. That is wonderful! The new southbound bike lane on Linwood Avenue, for example, gets me downtown much more easily; it has changed my life.

However, the other day I almost collided with a car on Linwood. As I was blithely sailing along, a driver who was parked on my side of the road and facing me pulled out right in front of me. Fortunately, we both hit our brakes in time to avoid actual contact. I guess I was not so blithe after all. Even in a bike lane, constant vigilance is essential. OK, so far so good. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Next, the driver and I exchanged words. I asked him to look next time before pulling out. His response: “Shouldn’t you be on the other side?” In spite of the many signs and arrows and images of bikes stenciled right on the street, he was not yet aware of the months-old change in the traffic pattern.

We need more education so that drivers of cars will see us, and even when we are not there will watch for us. The new bike lanes on lower Delaware Avenue are another recent asset, but they will not be totally safe for cyclists until automobile drivers get accustomed to their presence. Right now, the only place where I feel safe riding a bike in traffic is on Elmwood Avenue near Buffalo State College, where bikes are actually separated from the traffic by a strip of grass. The future looks bright for bicycles in Buffalo, but it is not here yet.

Lynn Magdol

Buffalo