Proposal offers new path for city


The following is copy of a letter in support of the Complete Streets Resolution that I addressed to Dunkirk Mayor Dolce and all members of the City Council prior to the council meeting held May 6. It is quoted in its entirety.

Action on this resolution was tabled as a public hearing on the matter is required. This is because passage would result in a change to the city code. The public hearing on this issue is now scheduled for Tuesday at 5:20 p.m. in the courtroom on the second floor of City Hall just prior to the council meeting.

I encourage Dunkirk residents or other interested parties to support this measure by appearing at either the public hearing or by participating in the Privilege of The Floor during the council meeting proper.

Here is the letter:

I write today in an effort to urge the speedy adoption of the proposed Complete Streets resolution that is noted on the agenda for tonight’s meeting of the Common Council. For about a year, I and others in this community have been engaged in support of this multi-modal concept for the improvement of the transportation needs of all citizens making use of our streets and sidewalks.

In more than 450 communities across the United States, the Complete Streets concept has led to the vast improvement of existing conditions resulting in safer, healthier, more efficient conditions through the use of simple, cost effective measures that are often able to be underwritten through the use of private or public funding specifically keyed to improvements in health, safety and transportation measures.

As I have stated on previous occasions, most recently before the city Planning Board, the adoption of the Complete Streets resolution does not mandate the expenditure of vast sums of taxpayer dollars. Rather, implementing the initiative simply means that when any project involving repair or replacement of streets or sidewalks that would be done if any event comes along, the best practices of the Complete Streets concept will be incorporated wherever and whenever possible.

It is understood that circumstances that would preclude such consideration might exist, but the goal is to have performed due diligence in an effort to incorporate the concepts.

Very importantly, the program serves as a means to better manage the levels of risk inherent in the use of roadways and sidewalks by vehicle drivers, cyclists and pedestrians as they interact with one another. Adopting Complete Streets measures can result in calming vehicular traffic, thus creating safer access to streets and sidewalks for cyclists and pedestrians by better informing all drivers of the presence of those users. As an example, even though there are statutes prohibiting the activity, many bicyclists ride on the city sidewalks, placing pedestrians and themselves at great risk of injury through collisions that can be avoided. Why are the cyclists on the sidewalk?

Most likely they feel unsafe riding in the street because auto and truck drivers tend to look only for similar vehicles in the roadway. A solution is to better inform those drivers of the presence of cyclists through the use of lane marking and other signage as appropriate. The solution does not necessarily rely on the creation of dedicated bicycle lanes, only a better means of alerting other drivers to existence of other users.

I would also suggest that communities where Complete Streets initiatives exist are often more attractive to potential business concerns and their employees in light of the safer, healthier alternatives offered by the implementation of those concepts. Such an initiative becomes a drawing card, one that could tip a business’s decision to come to our community as opposed to another one not dedicated to Complete Streets principles for safer, and more attractive traffic management. Dunkirk can use all the drawing cards it can muster and Complete Streets can be one of them.

In conclusion, I regret that a prior commitment with another volunteer organization precludes our attendance at this evening’s meeting, but my wife, Mary, and I strongly encourage the passage of this measure for the ultimate benefit of our community, its residents and visitors.

Stephen E. Rees is a Dunkirk resident.