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Chippewa meter poles targeted

Some people who visit the Chippewa Strip on busy bar nights are bumping into parking meter poles that protrude from sidewalks.

The city removed meter heads to make way for a new pay-and-display parking system, but the poles remain. Chippewa Street business leaders warned someone could get hurt.

"Without the tops on the meters, when the sidewalk is crowded, they are nearly impossible to see until you walk into them," Chippewa Entertainment District Association President Hames Alfieri said in a letter to city officials. "This is not only a hazard to the patrons, but a lawsuit waiting to happen against the City of Buffalo."

Alfieri urged the city to abandon its plan to leave the meter poles in place to accommodate new bicycle racks. Facilities to accommodate bikers are a great idea for other parts of the city, he said, but not along the curbs of Chippewa.

"The sidewalks are too narrow to sustain a bike rack and still provide ample space for our patrons to pass by without injuring themselves," Alfieri said.

He added that having bike racks on a commercial strip dotted with outdoor patios would make it tough for pedestrians to get by in some spots.

City officials met Friday with Chippewa business people to discuss concerns. Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak briefed the mayor's office Monday, then announced that the city is going to remove the meter poles along Chippewa.

"We're going to be looking for strategic places where we can put in bike racks -- places that will be less of a problem for pedestrians," said Stepniak.

City officials have committed to making Buffalo more user-friendly to walkers and bicyclists. One strategy involves providing more bike racks, especially in busy business areas.

Crews could begin removing meters this week as they start installing new trash receptacles on Chippewa, Stepniak said.

The city has been expanding a pilot project that began nearly four years ago that involves new computerized "pay-and-display" parking machines. Old-style meters are being replaced in many neighborhoods with solar-powered machines that are typically installed curbside in the middle of city blocks.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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