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Care urged in starting pedestrian, bike plan

A master plan calling for bicycle routes and improved pedestrian safety throughout East Aurora already is generating concern about designated bicycle lanes proposed for both sides of Girard Avenue.

Many village trustees praised the pedestrian and bicycle master plan being crafted for the village but thought the proposal should not be rushed because the school district is drafting plans for a capital project that calls for expanding Parkdale School and athletic fields along nearly 40 acres of vacant land on Girard.

"I think it's premature to pursue this until we know what the school district is doing," Mayor David DiPietro said Tuesday during a board work session. "That will be a big component. We need a lot more information before we do anything."

Girard resident Peter Calleri expressed concerns about the bike proposal, questioning how it would affect the street and the additional traffic that would be generated by an expanded Parkdale School campus. He asked that the bike plan be tabled until the school project is finalized.

"I am not against the bike path, but we should not rush into this," Calleri said. He also was concerned about the proposal's plan to ban parking on the south side of Girard. "If we get athletic fields there, you'll need parking on both sides of the street for events there."

The Pedestrian & Bicycle Board proposal calls for bike lanes on both sides of Girard that would lead bicyclists up to Knox State Park soccer fields by tying into a separate Knox trail proposed at the park entrance.

Initially, the plan called for keeping parking on the south side of Girard, but fire officials had concerns about access to hydrants along that side. The latest change calls for parking to remain only on the north side of Girard.

Trustee Libby Weberg, a member of the Pedestrian & Bicycle Board, said it is critical that the community try to tap into federal grants to fund the project. An even bigger challenge will be securing funding for Center Street sidewalks.

"It's critical to get sidewalks on Center Street up to the high school," she said. "Center is too narrow for bike lanes."

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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