Walkable Olean Replies

MS from Olean, JL from Rochester
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MS from Olean wrote:


With the traffic that goes through Olean on Rte 16, I feel that limiting it to one lane each way is going to create a terrible bottleneck (and accidents). Also, as an insurance agent, I feel that requiring people to BACK into a parking space would be a terrific mistake!


Dear MS,


The road currently serves 10,800 vehicles per day – last counted in 2010. Usage trends are actually downward! We’ve been losing population and everywhere in America, people are driving less.


The current design capacity is about 50,000 vehicles per day with no bicycle facility and poor pedestrian safety at intersections. The new design capacity will be 20 – 25,000 vehicles per day with a more equitable allocation of public space for all users.


The parking concept is controversial but consider these facts and observations:


1. On-street parking uses 50% less land than off-street parking so it is best for the environment (and the tax base) to maximize on-street parking. Angle parking provides twice as much capacity as parallel parking.

2.  Backing-in is safer than backing out – which is the current system. This is because you can see traffic and bicycles when you exit. Right now, it’s a hope and a prayer!

3.  The main objection to back-in angle parking (and parallel parking, for that matter) is the discomfort of reversing toward on-coming traffic. That’s why the lane width is at least 18-feet with 6 to 7 ft allocated to bike/multi-purpose/safety.

To park, pull onto the bike lane, let the guy behind you pass, back into your spot. Where this layout is used, people seem to like it very much and safety is much improved.

Best regards,



JL from Rochester wrote:


I was born and raised in Olean, still have family there and will be my final resting place at St Bona's Cemetery. I love Olean because I still feel part of it in my soul so I was happy to see that they will be beautifying Union Street. I liked option #1 because it doesn’t make the parked cars the object of attention and the street will have more room for moving traffic. I think the center island should have greenery that will represent flowering tree's and holly bushes. Olean has always been devoted to the Christmas and holiday season's more then most places. This was just some of my quick thoughts but will communicated again. Thank you for allowing me to contribute to this most wonderful project. Olean still in my heart.


Dear JL,


Olean’s greatest asset is her people! And, virtually everyone from Olean seems to want to come back!


The primary purpose of this project is economic development. Data is accumulating all over the country to prove that people and employers want to locate in charming, walkable communities.


Olean is lucky. The City is surrounded by natural beauty and North Union Street provides an enormously wide pallet framed by stunning historic architecture rimmed by the Enchanted Mountains.


Your points about design are very sound. We are taking a hard look at angle parking because it provides double the capacity of parallel parking. But, we don’t want parked cars to be the focal point either!


In order to reduce runoff, we need to add trees along the sidewalk edge and we’re thinking of using permeable pavers in the parking bays. These will make the parking areas more pretty and less prominent.


Thank you for writing!






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