ASHFORD – The Town of Ashford Planning Board heard a presentation at its regular meeting on Oct. 4 in regard to making the town more accessible and safe for drivers and pedestrians.
Executive Director of GObike Buffalo Justin Booth talked to those in attendance about Complete Streets and how it can be beneficial for Ashford. Complete Streets is a nationwide movement in which roadways are designed for the convenience and safety of users of all types, ages and abilities from pedestrians to motorists, bicyclists and public transportation riders. GObike Buffalo is funded to do work on Complete Streets through the New York State Department of Health, Booth said, and it has been working with communities across Western New York for this initiative.
Complete Street roads use numerous design features including sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, bump outs and curb cuts to help keep everyone in the community safe, while also helping promote walking and other healthy forms of transportation in communities.
“The goal of Complete Streets is how can we design our transportation system to accommodate all users safely and does so in a way that is not just moving vehicles from point A to point B,” Booth said. “But how do we build health in our community, how do we build health in our economy and how do we build health in our environment and how does that build quality of life for all residents.”
When talking about the benefits of having Complete Streets, Booth said there are advantages that can affect a town on many different levels, including providing healthier ways of travel to help fight obesity, helping reduce vehicle speed in communities to prevent injuries and fatalities and saving residents money caused from excessive vehicle use and being able to put it back into the local economy.
After a large Complete Street project in the Town of Hamburg, Booth said vehicle crashes have decreased by 66 percent, injuries have decreased by 60 percent, there have been increases in private investment within the community and increases in property values. Ashford Supervisor Charles Davis said that is what they are hoping to get done throughout Ashford to hopefully see the same effects, especially at the intersection of Peters Road and Route 219.
“That is where our firemen go and respond to calls,” Davis said. “That to me saves lives.”
A stakeholders workshop will be the next step to help formulate ideas on how to utilize Complete Streets in Ashford. The town is currently working on setting up a workshop in the coming months.
“The biggest part on all your end is to identify what you want to do and build the community support for it because that is going to be the key to being successful,” Booth said.