Recently a Buffalo Public School started to enforce a policy that effectively bans bicycles. The enforcement was started in light of a bicycle being stolen as it was locked to the school’s fence, as there is no bicycle parking available. According to the student whose bicycle was stolen it was announced “that bicycles cannot be attached to school gates or anywhere else on school property, if a bike is attached, the lock will be cut and the bike taken to city hall.”
Supposedly, a previously unknown policy is now being enforced. Doing some research I dug through the Buffalo Public Schools transportation policy which can be found here. You would think that the district would have something on the books in regards to students who choose to walk or bicycle to school one way or another. I found nothing in support or against this bicycle ban.
Under the precedent being set what if a student’s sneakers were stolen? Are shoes then going to be banned or to the other extreme, if a car was stolen from the parking lot would we then ban cars? Probably not, so why bicycles?
I did find in the City of Buffalo Charter Chapter 307, Parking and Parking Lots: Bicycle Parking (effective 6-10-2005), which states: Bicycle parking facilities shall be provided for any new building, addition, parking lot or enlargement of an existing building….it goes on to say, for proposed non-residential uses…having off-street parking requirements of 20 spaces or more, a number of off-street bicycle parking spaces shall be provided equal to 5% of the automobile parking space requirement.
This would indicate, since the school has recently undergone reconstruction and there is more then 20 automobiles parking at the school that the school district is responsible for supplying bicycle parking.
Back in October of 2008 Mayor Byron W. Brown and Superintendant Dr. James A. Williams held a joint press conference announcing the city’s award of a $550,000 Safe Routes to School grant that focuses on improving traffic safety, increasing physical activity, promoting healthy lifestyles and preserving the environment for Buffalo Public School students by creating infrastructure around schools that supports walking and bicycling and developing education, encouragement and enforcement programs to enhance these modes.
This policy of banning bicycling from a school, even if on the books, is in direct conflict with the goals in which the Safe Routes to School program was established. In light of this, the Buffalo Public Schools should be called upon to adopt a pro-bicycle policy following the goals of the Safe Routes to School program so that we can begin to act proactively in caring for the health of our children, that of the environment and begin to realize the multi-faceted benefits walking and bicycling can provide our community.