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Ghosts of Buffalo, Show Yourselves
by Suzanne Toomey Spinks
As a pedestrian and bicycle advocate, I spent too many frustrating years trying to nudge and shame the City of Buffalo into accepting their responsibility to enforce the sidewalk snow clearance ordinance.
Realizing that this is a lost cause, I conclude that the best approach is to educate the pedestrian and cycling population to be as visible as possible and walk and cycle defensively. With this in mind I offer the following letter as a plea to the Ghosts of Buffalo:
One evening at dusk, while driving home, I was startled by a shadow of a cyclist darting in front of my car. The rider was taking all the wrong chances, as if determined to cause a crash—going the wrong way, trying to beat a light and wearing dark clothes with no reflectors. Luckily, because of the snow and messy road conditions, I proceeded slowly into the intersection and stopped before any harm was done except for my heart rate and adrenalin rising to the alarm.
Especially this winter I have been aware of such darkly clad shadow people walking in the streets, darting across roads seemingly oblivious to their ghost-like appearance. Thus, I began seeing them as the Ghosts of Buffalo.
I realize that lack of cleared sidewalks, and snow clogged intersections make it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists, but if I have one bit of advice for these ghosts, it is be to be as visible as possible. No it’s more of a plea, I beg them—wear reflective vests if necessary.
Knowing that the city will not enforce the sidewalk snow clearance ordinances, the fall back position has to be to cast as much light on those ghosts prowling the streets so that they live to experience the life giving light and warmth of spring.
Suzanne Toomey Spinks, Buffalo
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