The plan envisioned for bringing a bike share program to Buffalo was presented by students from the University at Buffalo, School of Architecture and Planning on Wednesday. Comprised of twenty undergraduates in the Environmental Design program, the class has created a comprehensive proposal for the unique program.
The class was under the direction of Dr. Alex Bitterman, where environmental design students worked with a real world client. Dr. Bitterman was approached by Creighton Randall of Buffalo CarShare with a proposal to bring a bike share program to Buffalo.
While the presentation was only a basic summary of the over 200 page document, the overall idea of how the program would work was presented thoroughly. The key point to remember is that this is only a proposal and it is not set in stone. The final product may be exactly what was proposed or may only utilize some of it.
The students worked in three research groups, the design and branding group, the infrastructure group, and the social outreach group. Every student was also a part of one of four additional administrative groups including, editing, graphic design/layout, logistics, and the final presentation group. They studied the best practices of other cities, documented the existing conditions, and explored how to promote the program.
Social Bikes (SoBi) of Brooklyn has created a unique design for the future of bike share programs. In traditional bike share programs, bicycles are rented and stored at "smart kiosks," where all the technology is located on the kiosk. The Sobi bike turns the traditional model on its head with all the technology on the bike including, a GPS tracking unit, integrated U-bolt lock, and a touch keypad. The innovative design allows for the bikes to be locked anywhere within the designated boundaries, rather than returning them to a kiosk.
Design and Branding
One of the most challenging aspects of the proposal was formulating a meaningful name and design. Ultimately, the class decided on Radial Bike Share for the name and orange for the color. The name references one of Buffalo's most distinguishable features, Joseph Ellicott's radial plan for the city. It was important not to use the over-done and cliché themes like rust-belt, queen city, nickel city, etc.
The design group determined orange would be the best color for the bikes and branding based on a color survey. Orange is one of the least used colors for branding in Buffalo so it would stand out, while also drawing attention to the bikes.
The Infrastructure Report
A key component of the proposal was studying what bicycle infrastructure already existed and where there were opportunities to extend or implement new infrastructure. Two to four students biked every bike lane, path, and trail in the City of Buffalo. Along the way a survey was filled out to document the existing conditions like the overall condition, the signage, and lighting.
With a comprehensive look at bike infrastructure, the group was able to envision where connections could be made to link the system and where to expand it. Below is a map illustrating where the infrastructure group envisioned these new connections and bike lanes.
Part of the success of the proposal relies on the connections and partnerships created for funding and promotions. The Social Outreach group made those connections and researched what organizations will likely want to invest in the program. They also looked into different ways to incentivize the program, like partnering with businesses so that members can get special offers or discounts.
While this is only a brief summary of how the class envisions the program, the full document is available for purchase by going here. There is also an option to preview a short section of the document.
The students in Dr. Bitterman's class include:
Final Image courtesy of David Torke, fixbuffalo