Transportation Experts focused on safety, utility, parking and maintenance. All agreed that the current parking scheme is unsafe and difficult. They also agreed that there is no good way to ride a bike on North Union Street today.
They felt that a street plan with medians and roundabouts made a lot of sense. One individual suggested that the median could be made with cobblestones to reduce lawn maintenance and ensure salt tolerance. It might be a good idea to specify a 2 or 3 foot wide strip of cobblestone to outline the median and protect the grass from salt or rutting in the event that a vehicle mounts the curb. Food for thought!
Business Owners feel that the street is not working for them. One called it a “raceway”. Another argued that drivers are so busy watching for cars backing into traffic that they don’t have time to look at storefronts. Others complained that the street looks barren.
The consensus was for change. Business owners offered examples of beautiful and successful commercial districts that they have seen elsewhere in the country and hoped that Olean could catch-up.
General Users were scared to cross North Union Street. These were individuals who frequent the Street for work or school. Traffic is aggressive, drivers inattentive, crossing distances too wide. The general feeling was one of intimidation. All thought it preposterous to ride a bike on North Union. All wanted change.
In addition to these focus group meetings, Dan Burden presented “Complete Streets” to two classes of Olean High School Students and surveyed their attitudes afterward. All but one student felt that Olean needed to change North Union Street. That’s our future talking!