By Eli George:
Our world is constantly growing more advanced. The digital
age is upon us and good, old-fashioned hard work can only take you so far. It costs millions of dollars to become
president. Businesses are almost always expected to have a website available to
the public on the Internet. But
even with protests all over the country, there doesn’t seem to be much ability
to really change anything. Enter Newell Nussbaumer–a passionate individual and Board Member of Go Buffalo!, who
simply wouldn’t take no for an answer.
When Nussbaumer marched into City Hall with fellow bike
enthusiast and Blue Bike Founder Justin Booth at his side, he had but one goal in mind–to make the City of
Buffalo leaders see the light of reason and to have them stop removing parking
meters. Those parking meters could instead have their tops removed and be left
in the ground; from the existing poles, bike rings, conveniently located in
front of businesses, could be born.
“We believe the bike ring idea to be very progressive,” says
Nussbaumer, “The city needs to offer amenities that make bike riding an
advantage. We’re trying to get Buffalo to be a bike-friendly city. It’d be
great to have places to lock your bike. Cyclists shouldn’t be considered broke
hippies–people are cycling because they want to cycle.”
Nussbaumer and his colleagues from the bike community
managed to convince the city to stop taking down the parking meter poles. They
managed to show the city leaders that other cities, like Toronto, were doing
the same thing. The main thrust of his argument was that removing them is
needless if they can be reused. Although Chippewa business owners still had
theirs removed, it was because they specifically requested it, and other than
those removals, there have been no other parking meter poles removed since Nussbaumer’s
meeting. That leaves 50 percent of the parking meter poles still standing.
Stopping the parking meter pole removal is just one thing
the city is doing to improve bike relations. Currently, the city offers bike
racks to interested businesses. The demand was so overwhelming, that the city
has a backlog of orders. The downside to using a bike rack as opposed to a bike
pole is that there is typically one bike rack on each corner. This makes it
harder to protect your bike as it may be out of your sight, along with ruining
the convenience of being able to bike to your exact location. With a growing
body of people who are conscious of the environmental threats of motoring, not
to mention the health benefits of cycling, biking is becoming evermore popular.
Nussbaumer wants to see that trend grow with the city’s help, and removing
places to lock your bike could only serve as a deterrent.
After convincing City Hall, the next obstacle was the cost
of the bike rings, which comes to $125/per. That’s a lot of money to some
businesses, especially since there may be more than one parking meter pole in
front of their store. Not wanting the movement to lose momentum, members of Go! Buffalo
decided it was time for a fundraiser. Nussbaumer, along with Justin Booth, Wayne Magyar, Jay McCarthy (Buffalo MicroParks) and Christian Schmidt held a
fundraiser at Campieri’s, 888 Main Street, on October 23rd and
managed to raise almost $5,000. That wasn’t going to be enough on its own, and
that’s where the birth of Rusty Chain Beer comes in.
This would be a different kind of beer. Part of the proceeds from the sales of
each glass would go right to bike culture. The beer debuted around Thanksgiving
in twenty local restaurants–the pre-sale number Flying Bison Brewery felt
necessary in order to craft the rich, amber ale. Nussbaumer and buddies had to get 20 restaurants to agree to
purchase a half-barrel, which is equivalent to a keg. Though the sale of the
beer will benefit bicyclists, it will also benefit Flying Bison because the
cyclists managed to garner new accounts for the brewers with restaurants that
previously didn’t carry any of their products.
Nussbaumer says the beer is modeled after Fat Tire Beer from
Colorado. They wanted Rusty Chain to be a delicious beer that’s easy to drink.
“If people are happy with it and continue to drink Rusty Chain beer, we’ve gone
out and created a way to generate funding for bicycling in Buffalo. Plus, it’s
really delicious,” says Nussbaumer.
The beer already has a graphic design, donated by Neil
Carroll of Nickel City Graphics. If it grows enough to be bottled instead of
just on tap, that graphic will be synonymous with the beer. For now, look for
the custom tap designed by Atlas Steel–also donated for the biking cause.
Amazingly, a new beer was brewed for the sole sake of making the City of
Buffalo more bike-friendly– including helping to purchase the bike rings that
started the mission to begin with.
With dedication, Nussbaumer and his biking pals have managed
to accomplish a lot. He says, “It goes to show you what a few people can do. In
a matter of a month’s time, we’ve come up with a pretty good solution and we
did it with no money. Businesses that have a bike ring will benefit from that.
If you have a bike-friendly restaurant, cyclists will want to go there. It’s
really crucial at this stage in the game to realize that bike culture is a
progressive culture. Other cities have got it, and we need to understand it.”
To learn more about Rusty Chain beer, visit their website at