Wednesday, March 1, 2017

EDITORIAL: More Safety Needed on Chestnut Street

My two favorite places in Lockport share the same parking lot. I have loved the Lockport Library since I was in kindergarten. For the last three years, Cornerstone Ice Arena has been almost like a second home. I’ve been there hundreds of times since it opened, and even several times before it opened. It is a wonderful addition to Lockport.

There a couple issues, though, that I would like to see addressed with regard to the safety of the patrons of the arena. The biggest safety concerns I see deal directly with the roadway in front of the arena and the parking lot.

Far too often, I have seen cars fly down Chestnut Street with no regard to speed limit or pedestrians. Now that the curbing has been eliminated from the east end of the parking lot, the street is a thoroughfare. People exiting the arena, children and adults alike, leave the building thinking that it’s a parking lot instead of a roadway. They are unprepared for the speeds they encounter in front of the arena.

The speeds in front of the arena need to be adjusted. Maybe make it a 20mph zone from Charles Street to Market Street. Or maybe they could add some speed bumps or rumble strips as they close in on the crosswalk in front of the doors (The crosswalk should also be clearly denoted in paint.) Another option would be to make a “Yield to Pedestrians” in a zone by those doors.

Exacerbating the issue comes when people are picking up their kids from the public skate. They line along the north side of the road, hindering a pedestrian’s vision as they leave the arena. Now they have to walk into the roadway to see if any traffic is coming. There should be a better way than lining up in the roadway to pick kids up from the skating. It is a roadway, not a parking lot.

There needs to be a clear demarcation between the parking lot and the roadway. There needs to be curbing at the ends of the parking lanes and Chestnut Street. People are diving in and out of the parking lot through those parking spaces. Other people are getting their equipment out of the back seats or trunks, and have to contend with drivers barreling through the lot at roadway speed. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

There could be further improvements to the city lot between the library and arena. One of the easiest things to do would be to repaint the lines for parking. That would make it much easier for people unfamiliar to the area to park carefully. Right now, people are making their own spots when they don’t want to walk quite as far. That makes it difficult for others to get out of their parking spots.

I love having an ice arena downtown. I think it is a very good thing for downtown Lockport. I’d like to see get even bigger and better. However, there are a couple things that need to be addressed so that it is just as safe as it can be. I want to see hockey and skating at the Cornerstone Arena for many, many years to come. I only offer suggestions to make it the best that it can be.

There are simple fixes that the City of Lockport could offer. They probably don't actually have to, but I sincerely hope that they at least take some suggestions under advisement. My ideas likely aren't the only ones that could be made. I just wanted to offer some constructive ideas that may make our downtown even better.

Craig Bacon is a hockey nut who loves to read. He spends a lot of time in the lot between the arena and the library and has seen some craziness from drivers. He’s also almost been hit by a car leaving the arena, and he is very careful since he knows the dangers.