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West Side block club goes DIY on street crosswalks

Crosswalk lines across a street
Mike Desmond

Four intersections on Hampshire Street on Buffalo's West Side now have proper crosswalks, painted according to federal rules.

Upper 14th Street Block Club President Elizabeth Meg Williams said that means they are more visible than the crosswalks the city paints, since they are painted six inches wide as the feds require, while the city only does four inches.

White crosswalks at a Hampshire Street corner
Mike Desmond
White crosswalks at a street corner
Mike Desmond

"The lines are only four inches wide and they need to be, according to federal guidelines, six inches wide. So we just amended the city's old lines, where you can see the raised tape. Now our markings will need to be redone in the spring, after the winter. The city has resources that can make these crosswalks and the stop lines permanent," Williams said.

It required a borrowed line striper, some volunteers, $200 in pavement paint from Lowe's and yellow safety vests for worker protection in the West Side's notorious traffic.

Williams said anyone could do it.

"Any block club could do this, any association of people. We had six people out there in the morning. More came later. We ended up sending them home because we didn't need all of them. Federal rules are online. All of it is on Twitter, linked to the materials that you can use and the guidelines from the federal government on what needs to be included," she said.

Williams said the streets are unsafe for the kids and for the local immigrant population, which is heavily pedestrian because of bad drivers. It's an especially noticeable problem because School 18 has kids coming from all direction.

She said the project was triggered by the death of a 12-year-old hit by a car while crossing the street and an elderly pedestrian hit a few days later.

"We've had multiple pedestrian accidents on 14th. At the intersection, a car drove into a house. At the intersection, when I first moved here about five years ago. It's absolutely insane and people don't let their children be children because it's so unsafe," Williams said.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.