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Tonawanda rejects bike path, parking ban on Englewood

Residents came out in force Monday night in the Town of Tonawanda to object to a proposed parking ban on Englewood Avenue that would pave the way for a bike path on the heavily traveled thoroughfare.

Lawmakers rejected the proposal after a dozen residents complained about speeding vehicles and lack of parking on Englewood.

“You take the parking away, and they’re only going to go faster,” Rose Lucitt, who spoke out against the change. “I see a lot of bicycles now on the sidewalk. I know it’s illegal, but it’s a lot safer. I’ve seen cars go by 55 mph."

Lorraine Pierro, a 40-year resident on Englewood, said she has “clocked” vehicles traveling at 65 mph on the road. Still, she backed the parking restriction and offered some suggestions.

“We need stop signs, speed bumps. Have you been down Parkside lately? They have signs, maybe five lights,” said Pierro. “You need to do something about the speeding or else you’ll find yourself in the same situation on Niagara Falls Boulevard. Someone is going to get killed.”

The town had proposed a parking prohibition for the south side of Englewood between Belmont and Kenmore avenues, said Matt Sutton, town engineer. The addition of the bike lane, he said, would provide safer conditions for the cyclists who access the Tonawanda Rails to Trails path from the west along Englewood. It would also reduce the width of the driving lane to 10 feet on the south side of Englewood, Sutton said.

“That’s when a driver takes caution because he’s in a more restricted area, so he’ll slow his speed down,” said Sutton. “Currently, there are 20 feet on either side of the center double line to either park or drive.”

One resident who addressed the board stressed the need for bicyclist education.

“Until we educate them I don’t think we need to provide any more public roads to let them use that they don’t know how to use,” said Kenneth Winger of Parker Boulevard.

Residents living along Englewood were notified of the proposed change in late June by letters mailed by the town. They were also mailed a survey from the police department asking whether they agreed with the parking restriction. Of the 387 surveys mailed, 102 responses were received, with 62% of those backing the parking restriction and bike path, said Lt. Mark Shoemaker, head of the department’s Service Bureau.

During the hearing, Councilman John Bargnesi admitted he was on the fence regarding the proposed change, but he said something must be done about Englewood.

“You all agree that it does not work, that it’s dangerous and a highway. I don’t know why we would go back to what everyone said does not work,” said Bargnesi.

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