Look at that view!

Joel Giambra tried to get back into the headlines again by starting a Change.org petition (WHOAH!) to “Restore the 198 to 55 miles per hour.” Cool! Cue the armchair experts to chime in from 20 miles away with, “YEAH! I want to cut through the city faster!” “Cuomo sucks!”

Joel’s wrong.

The 198, despite a Bernsta(e)in Bears-style groupthink conspiracy theory, was never 55mph. It was 50. And even that was just as stupid as this petition. There should be a petition to make the speed limit 0 mph and tear the damn thing out. It’s in the middle of a city park! A park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, for, you know, people. Not cars. But this is Buffalo and we like to destroy the best things we have for shorter commute times.

How much shorter?! If Mr. Giambra could get to god knows where he has to be in such a hurry at 50 miles per hour, he could travel the 198 from Parkside to I-190 in 3 minutes, 14 seconds. At 30 miles per hour, the travel time is 5 minutes, 24 seconds. We’ve wasted a whopping 2 minutes, 10 seconds of his time. Go tell the mother of the child who was killed while walking in the park you want those two minutes back. She wants her son back and doesn’t give a shit about your stupid commute.

Again. A three-year-old was killed. Right in front of his mother. Walking home from soccer practice.

“It had nothing to do with the the speed limit,” say those who also value 2 minutes, 10 seconds over children’s lives. But in actuality, if that guy wasn’t flooring it to get back up to 50+ while he fell asleep or whatever the hell he did, that poor boy would likely be alive. We should have torn 198 out right then and there to honor this young life cut short. Instead, we told that mother, “Sorry – cars are obviously more important than lives. We’ll lower the speed limit for you though, how’s that?”

“It feels like I should be going fast though.”

It’s true, not only did we put a highway through the middle of the park, but we designed it to mirror the I-90 between Buffalo and Rochester. Every lane is wide enough to text, sleep, eat and think about driving with two hands, but decide against it to go on Instagram instead with no consequences. There’s some beautiful smashed to pieces guard rails covered in rust, and oh, some new paint jobs on the shoulder. That’s no excuse for breaking the law and speeding.
(If the city’s in such a fiscal crisis, could we not solve it by actually handing out tickets to every other person deciding they’re above the law on this thing?)

If going 30 is so maddening, then start a Change.org petition to get the thing torn out. Or don’t drive on it. Or put your time to better use combatting climate change, being nice to someone, or prioritizing what you allow to make you upset.

We can do better, and think bigger than this, Buffalo.