Embrace The Idea

Being able to bike or walk safely around Jamestown is a dream for many residents, but concerned citizens are working hard to make it a reality.

Recently, a public workshop was held at the Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center to educate residents and officials about the Complete Streets initiative and get them more involved. The workshop, which was sponsored by the Chautauqua County Health Network’s Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play initiative and presented by Justin Booth, founder and executive director of Go-Bike-Buffalo, focused on what Jamestown needs to embrace in order to adopt the Complete Streets ordinance. Jamestown Renaissance Corporation Executive Director Pete Lombardi and Chautauqua County Health Network Executive Director Ann Abdella also spoke at the workshop.

“Complete Streets are designed to enable safe access for all users – pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists,” said Janet Forbes, project coordinator for Creating Healthy Places. “The workshop is an opportunity for residents and decision makers to learn, discuss and develop action steps, and move Jamestown to become a more walkable and bikeable community.”

A recent comparison of accident reports in Jamestown revealed that pedestrian injuries are close to five times higher than the national average, while bicycle injuries are more than two times as high as the national average.

Despite those numbers, Lombardi called Jamestown “a city that really lends itself to walking and biking,” noting the city limits are no farther than 2 miles from downtown in any direction.

“Embracing a Complete Streets approach to transportation planning an implementation can improve the community’s sense of place,” said Booth. “This approach will change people’s perceptions of their neighborhood through an improved environment that encourages activity, enhances economic viability and establishes a quality of life unsurpassed, while attracting others here to live, work and play.”

Booth, who has visited major metropolitan areas around the country including Portland, Ore.; San Francisco, Calif.; and Oakland, Calif.; has a wealth of experience to draw from when speaking about bicycle- and walking-friendly cities. Additionally, Go-Bike-Buffalo played an instrumental role in allowing Buffalo to become the first city in New York to adopt a Complete Streets ordinance.

“A lot of the work being done here is really exciting,” said Booth. “A lot of communities around the country are really starting to take charge of this.”

According to Booth, a recent survey showed roughly 10 percent of the working population in Jamestown either walks or bikes to work. In comparison, a study published by Forbes Magazine in 2012 showed one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, Portland, Ore., only sees 5.44 percent of its workforce cycling to their jobs.

“(Complete Streets) is all about creating a place that people will want to bike or walk,” Booth said. “Being connected no longer means having a car – it’s all about living in a place where there are things to do. People are using their smartphones to stay connected.”

Booth invited participants to take a walking tour of downtown with him to see for themselves what Jamestown was already doing well and what it could do better. He applauded the use of extended curbs, such as the ones near the intersection of Third and Cherry streets, which increase visibility for both cars and pedestrians, making it a more biking- and walking-friendly place.

For more information about the Complete Streets initiative and the workshop, contact Jim Goodling at the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation by calling 664-2477, ext 223.