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A plan to expand transportation and commuting options in the Buffalo area by establishing a 610-mile bike path system got mostly a positive reception Wednesday night at a hearing on the proposed system at the Channel 17 building in downtown Buffalo.

The meeting, sponsored by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Committee, was held to get public reaction to the Regional Bikeway Implementation Plan, which was the result of a $170,000 study begun 15 months ago by the Bicycle Federation of America.

The study concludes that a bike route system following existing roads could create a 125-mile web in the City of Buffalo linked to suburban routes along major thoroughfares to outlying areas of Erie and Niagara counties.

The creation of the system does not involve construction or major reconstruction of roads but would be completed mostly with redrawn highway lines and signs. The estimated cost would be $3.4 million to $4.9 million.

"I don't see this going away. This is something that can be done once people are aware," said Tim Trabold, NFTC consultant for the study.

Trabold noted that the study incorporates bicycle master plans already adopted by suburban communities. Because of its wide streets, Buffalo could easily implement the system within the city.

He added that a Common Council committee recently cleared a master bike path plan for the city and that a full vote on it is expected within the week.

Bicyclists at the meeting raised a number of concerns, ranging from the care and maintenance of bicycling lanes to a proposal that the city consider establishing a bicycle freeway.

"Most motorist don't have an awareness of bicyclists. I don't think we have a high level of bicycle riders," Steve Lakomy said.

"But this plan should go forward as a way to increase bicycling. When people see this, then they'll make demands," he added.

Wintrop Allen, who stopped riding his bicycle in the city after an accident, noted that different forms of transportation are separated, and the same ought to be done with cyclists.

"We don't let planes land on the Thruway," he said. "Anything less than a class-A bike lane is a waste of money. Why not look into a bicycle freeway?"

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