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UB Students Debut Buffalo Bike Share Proposal

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.

bike 2.png

The Bike

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,


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.

bike 1.png

Social Outreach

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:


Daniel Bapst


Jimmy Cai

Kate Flynn

Frank Futia

Benjamin Gembler



Eric Kenyon

Nate Kirsch


Raul Lugo

Samantha Neal


Mike Puma



Nina Rosser

Isaac Stevens

Matthew Wattles

Final Image courtesy of David Torke, fixbuffalo


Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

View All Articles by WCPerspective
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  • Random Nerd

    Will I need a cell phone to use one of these bikes? Everyone doesn’t have a cell phone. Even less people have an iPhone or anything running Android.

  • Travelrrr

    There is so much to love about this initiative: the color of the bikes, the name, the fact that UB students are engaged in game-changing concepts for Buffalo, the centralization of the districts (something will need to be done about Allen St-you can’t possibly/safely ride a bike on there), the orange ties, the logo…it’s all good.

  • grad94

    very excited to see this rolled out, no pun intended.
    a few random thoughts: the little r in the logo is pretty mysterious. it is explained in the article but if your logo needs explanation, you should probably tweak it so that it doesn’t.
    will they all be single speed bikes? if not, an internal gear mechanism will remove the hassles of derailleurs coming derailed all the time.
    also, when i was in toronto, i noticed that their rental bikes had the chain in a completely enclosed compartment. really good feature for two reasons: it keeps your pant leg from getting messed up in the chain and it keeps the chain oiled and out of the elements.

  • Mike Puma

    Yes, the bikes have an internal chain drive for all those same reasons

  • Mike Puma

    That is a great question and a concern we all had as well. Currently with the way the technology works on these bikes you would register or reserve a bike via your smart phone and/or any computer with an internet connection.
    The way almost every other program works is that you have to be a subscribed member to utilize the program and typically it is reserved only for residents, not tourists. Considering the great potential in the tourism market in Buffalo we were careful to include a way everyone can have access to the program in our proposal.
    There would potentially be different types/levels of memberships; annual, week, month. In our proposal for example, if someone is passing by one of the bikes and wants to use it, theoretically they can access the website on their phone or computer
    While this may limit access initially because not everyone has a smart phone, or even internet access we hope there is a way to remedy that issue by the future management if/when the program is officially launched.
    This was all based on the best practices from over 20 other cities around the world that have a bike share program.

  • JSmith

    Allen is a fine street to ride a bike. It’s a narrow street, so traffic is already moving slowly and carefully. You just have to ride far enough from the parked cars to avoid being “doored” and so cars behind you don’t attempt to squeeze by you too narrowly.

  • tiny

    I noticed the bike has a driveshaft rather than a conventional chain drive. No need to worry about getting grease on your pants.

  • Chris

    The bikes should be sponsored by companies. You should see logos on each bike right were they have the tail design.
    I still don’t understand why this project would be different than any other bike share that I’ve seen in any other city.
    Why not build something that you know works and pilot this new program? It is reasons like this why thinks fail.

  • Mike Puma

    We have determined that the tail space above the rear tire and the basket in the front are great places for organizations to advertise.
    The system is unique because all the technology is on the bike rather than utilizes a kiosk system which has all the technology on the kiosk. The reason the SoBi bikes model even exists is because of the drastic price difference. With all the technology on the bike, there isn’t a need to introduce/pay for the infrastructure required in other systems, i.e. the kiosks.
    Even though the technology allows the system to operate without the kiosks, the infrastructure group proposed an alternative. We have identified key locations in a number of different core neighborhoods (Allentown, Elmwood Village, BNMC, etc.)where centralized kiosks could be located for high visibility, easy access, etc.

  • brownteeth

    May I ask what the demand is expected to be for this service? I can understand sharing a car as the expenses are high to own, register, insure, fuel and maintain but you can buy a bicycle all day long for $50. walmart sells decent brand new crusier style bikes for $200. If we had a higher tourist rate I could see the potential for renting out bicycles but honestly, who can’t afford a bike?