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Tonawanda Town Board agrees to form ‘Complete Streets’ panel on bike lanes, pedestrian access

The Town of Tonawanda could soon be seeing more bike lanes and safer pedestrian access to roads under a “Complete Streets” initiative endorsed by town officials.

The Town Board on Monday night agreed to form a committee to make safe travel policy recommendations for all modes of transportation on projects and programs under review or consideration across the town.

“There’s a lot of benefits to this,” James D. Hartz, director of community development, told the Town Board during its afternoon work session.

“Obviously, there’s an obesity epidemic. It’s supposed to increase public health in general by providing different modes of transportation access. And it’s an amenity for a lot of younger families looking to locate in an area. They want to have these different travel options available to them.”

Buffalo was the first city in the state to adopt a Complete Streets initiative in 2008, when city leaders pledged to add features to help bikes and pedestrians whenever they reconstructed a road. The city also committed to adding 10 miles of bike lanes a year.

Earlier this year, the Town of Tonawanda adopted a comprehensive plan that includes a recommendation to adopt a Complete Streets policy.

Forming the committee is the first step toward adopting that policy, Hartz said. In addition, a team of architecture students from the University at Buffalo this fall will help the town develop a bicycle master plan.

Hartz noted that a Complete Streets initiative looks at all aspects of a roadway, including sidewalks, landscaping, parking, bike lanes and motor vehicle traffic. The committee will also be able to address accessibility issues for people with disabilities. According to one design rendering, a residential Complete Street in the town might have two 6-foot-wide bike lanes painted green, two lanes for motor traffic and a single parking lane.

The new committee will fall under the town’s Planning Board, which had requested the subcommittee, and include members of various town, village, county and state departments.