2013 is going to be a big year for Buffalo CarShare and Buffalo BikeShare. Both of these "share" organizations are starting to hit big growth strides, with CarShare reaching over 500 members, while BikeShare readies bikes for its fleet in preparation for a Spring launch. CarShare has just announced that it has partnered with Buffalo State, and will be introducing an initial two vehicles to the campus, while BikeShare is beta-testing its program with the University at Buffalo in order to achieve its goal of expanding the program city-wide. Both Buffalo-born share models are strong partnerships forged from collaborations between Buffalo CarShare, GO Bike Buffalo and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, with each organization lending a strong support network to navigate the roads of Buffalo.
On individual fronts, both CarShare and BikeShare are holding their own respectively. CarShare's partnership with Buffalo State College allows the organization to get a stronger foothold on the campuses of higher ed institutions; something that is an important component to the growth of the organization. Without these types of community partnerships, the "share" model wouldn't be nearly as effective. "These partnerships are a great model for our future collaboration with community institutions," said Carrie Merritt, Business Development Director at Buffalo CarShare. "We are always open to ways that we can expand the impacts of our work." It is important to understand that while CarShare is busy partnering with the businesses and organizations within the community, it is continuing to build a diverse membership base and leads the car sharing industry in meeting both environmental and social goals. Buffalo CarShare identifies transportation needs within the community, and continues to roll out in neighborhoods where that need is most prevalent. Founded in '09, 70% of 500 members are also Metro Rail riders.
It was Buffalo CarShare that ultimately took the lead on implementing and running Buffalo BikeShare. It was a natural fit for the organization, although at first I was under the impression that BikeShare was a GO Bike initiative. "We were already set up to handle the service side," Creighton Randall, Executive Director at Buffalo CarShare told me. "The hardest task with these "share" programs is getting them up operationally - it's not an easy task, but through our experience with CarShare we figured 'why not give it a shot in partnership with GO Bike?'. Expanding BikeShare city-wide will be a tall order, so we have formed a strong partnership with GO Bike Buffalo and the Medical Campus, and now these other partners. Go Bike Buffalo is all about bike advocacy, bike safety, education and infrastructure. They also have a dynamite community bike workshop, and will be behind the scenes working on the BikeShare fleet, making sure these bikes are runnning smooth. If it were not for GO Bike's continued push for more bike lanes, racks, and greater safety on the roads, we wouldn't be able to offer BikeShare members safe streets to travel upon."
Moving forward, Buffalo CarShare continues to plug away, by drawing community partners to its side. In order for Buffalo BikeShare to do the same, the organization needs to identify additional partners that understand the community benefits of the service. So far, The Medical Campus and Seneca Gaming Corporation, and University at Buffalo have each partnered with BikeShare in order to get the first 75 SoBi bikes
out on the road later this Spring. Eventually, there will need to be several hundred bikes out on the road in order for it to be a properly functioning city-wide system. It's time that higher ed institutions, progressive hotels, downtown businesses, growing commercial districts, and waterfront proponents follow the lead of Buffalo State, UB and the BNMC. With BikeShare, there are no infrastructure needs and no risk of failure with its hub-based model... it's all upside for a healthy and green Buffalo.
Let's start to look at the big picture, and support a bike-share model that is already being beta tested in Greater Buffalo. After all, as Buffalo BikeShare grows, so does Buffalo CarShare and vice versa. Let's make sure that we take care of our own, as these Buffalo-centric organizations continue to take care of our needs.
Find more information about Buffalo Carshare at:
14 Allen Street
Buffalo NY 14202
Lead image: Stacy Sauvageau, CarShare's BikeShare Coordinator. Stacy is an employee of both CarShare and long time employee of GOBike Buffalo.
*Purchased through West Herr Auto (a strong community partner), with the support of the Oishei Foundation. The foundation sponsors a "challenge match" to businesses and institutions, which allows Buffalo CarShare to expand its footprint. In the case of Buffalo State College, Oishei matched the college's commitment.
**The bikes are being stored at 928 Main Street - soon to be unveiled as the new home for Buffalo BikeShare - approximately 1500 square feet that is adjacent to its current offices - see Red Jacket building below.