To the Reader's Forum:
Drivers on West Third Street in Jamestown are most certainly enjoying the newly repaved street. We would like to call attention to a subtle yet important change that has made the area between Hall Avenue and Hallock Street better and safer for ALL users. That change is the addition of the white lines marking the existing on-street parking.
For many years, there has been confusion on the part of motorists regarding whether this stretch of roadway was one lane or two. Not realizing that the street was actually just one travel lane, drivers would sometimes try to pass other vehicles on the right, in the parking lane, resulting in harrowing near-collisions. This situation also made exiting the side streets very challenging, because it was so dangerous to pull out to see around the street trees to check for oncoming traffic that might be just inches away. The one lane-or-two dilemma made crossing the wide expanse of pavement more dangerous for pedestrians, and cyclists felt unsafe with nothing delineating where they should be riding.
Simply painting the parking lane has remedied these situations and is a great example of Jamestown's Complete Streets ordinance in action. With Complete Streets, the city takes opportunities such as these to re-think the street by asking: "What can we do to make this street safer and more accommodating for all users?" In this case, the repaving project came up quickly and unexpectedly, well ahead of New York State Department of Transportation's construction schedule, and allowing little time to react. However, thanks to the coordinated communication of staff at the City of Jamestown DPW and the NYSDOT, the city was successfully able to request that the NYSDOT paint the parking lanes, thereby improving safety for all users. It is a small change, but an important one and the best that could be done given the short time-frame.
We'd like to thank the City of Jamestown and NYSDOT for putting the Complete Streets ordinance to work and improving the safety of our city's streets!
Chautauqua County Health Network, Creating Healthy Places Built Environment Consultant
Healthy Communities Coordinator, Chautauqua County Community Transformation Grant