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Bicycle Boulevards: A Quick Fix

It’s been a long time since I’ve provided an update on cycling in Buffalo – maybe it’s because this year we made a lot of headway as far as the recreation is concerned (see Year in Review below). At the same time we need to make steady improvements in the new year so that we can alleviate some of the safety hazards that go hand-in-hand with biking in Buffalo. Having plenty of places to lock a bike up is one thing – to provide bike lanes that connect the four corners of our city is another. With that in mind, I spoke to Justin Booth at Green Options Buffalo who had this to say:

“Our most recent initiative is to implement Bicycle Boulevards as they do in cities like Portland and NYC. Niagara Street is identified as a bicycle route in the 1996 Master Plan… that’s a joke. That plan was mandated by the federal government, which meant that The City had to do it. But creating a Master Plan and following through with a Master Plan are two different things. Nobody was held accountable for following through on anything. Back in 1996, Elmwood and Delaware were designated future ‘bike lane’ streets. Are they remotely safe to bike down 15 years later? No.

“Bicycle Boulevards can be implemented without expensive infrastructure. We are going to be identifying the safest streets to bike on, and then we need to implement maps, signage and paint – that’s our goal for the near future. While we wait for more bike lanes, we need to make biking safer for those already rising. I am happy to see that South Park Avenue is getting a bike lane thanks to Complete Streets legislation. My understanding is that Porter Avenue will be getting a bike lane as well. I would like to see another bike lane on Prospect that would be an alternative to taking Niagara Street to get downtown. We are trying to create more awareness at the present time, so please be sure to tell BRO readers to attend this following ‘Bicycling As A Resource’ presentation.”

BICYCLING IS A RESOURCE THAT CAN ENHANCE OUR QUALITY OF LIFE AND
ATTRACT OTHERS TO WESTERN NEW YORK TO LIVE, WORK AND PLAY.

Presenting Speaker, Jeff Olson
Principal, Alta Planning and Design
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
12 p.m. Lunch
1 p.m. Presentation and Live Broadcast
WNED Studios: 14 Lower Terrace, Downtown Buffalo
$15 Leadership Buffalo and WNED Members ($20 Non-Members)

Jeff Olson is an architect and planner who has been involved in greenways, open-space, active-living and alternative-transportation projects for more than 20 years. He has had a diverse career, with experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. His unique vision and leadership ability are important assets to projects ranging from regional planning to site-specific projects and programs. He is also an avid bicyclist and skier who has the perspective of a parent with three young children.

Following is a Green Options Buffalo 2009 Year in Review:
 
BICYCLE PARKING PROGRAM:
177 new bicycle racks were installed across Buffalo through GO-Buffalo’s Bicycle Parking Program in 2009. Through partnerships with Buffalo Rising, Flying Bison Brewery and the City of Buffalo, this program was launched in-part to help compensate for the thousands of lost bicycle parking spaces that resulted from the removal of parking meters across the city. Through a Buffalo Rising media campaign, it was recognized that parking for bicyclists was being threatened and we have been able to prevent the removal of a number of parking meter poles, in addition to installing entirely new racks across Buffalo. Funding from the sale of Flying Bison’s Rusty Chain Beer has been an essential element in getting these racks installed. In addition, GO-Buffalo was successful in getting bicycle racks installed at Buffalo Public Schools this year. After an incident of bicycle theft at Hutchinson Central Technical School, claims were made that there was an official policy banning public school students from commuting to and from school by bicycle. Through some investigation, GO-Buffalo discovered that no such policy existed and was able to build enough momentum around the issue to rapidly get a single bicycle rack installed at the school. More racks followed and over the summer, Public Schools across Buffalo installed bicycle racks for student use.

BUFFALO BLUE BICYCLE:
Buffalo Blue Bicycle saw a very smooth year through increasing focus on hubs that have seen steady activity in past seasons. The program has been very popular at the University at Buffalo North & South campuses, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the Buffalo State College campus. In 2009, 75 Blue Bicycles were made available to the community, generating 272 transactions by 38 active members.

COMMUNITY BICYCLE WORKSHOP:
2009 has been the best year to date for GO-Buffalo’s Community Bicycle Workshop. The Workshop has been renovated and expanded, and has been open for three regular days per week throughout the majority of the year. We have brought in hundreds used bikes, and have refurbished more used bicycles than previous years. Along with our most committed and productive workshop mechanics to date, GO-Buffalo has been able to secure our first Workshop Manager through a partnership with Buffalo Americorps.

COMPLETE STREETS:
GO-Buffalo has been successful in getting Complete Streets legislation passed on our citywide and countywide levels. 2009 brought our city’s first “Complete Street” on the 700 block of Main Street in downtown, equipped with bicycle lanes, crosswalks, pedestrian scaled lighting, neck-downs, benches, trees, signage and other safety aids. With Safe Routes to School funding secured from the Department of Transportation by Green Options Buffalo, “Complete Streets” will soon be appearing across the city.

RECYCLE-A-BICYCLE:
GO-Buffalo’s Recycle-A-Bicycle program finished a surprisingly successful first year at the Harvey Austin Middle School, cumulating with the program being featured on WGRZ Channel 2. In October, a promising new Recycle-A-Bicycle program was launched at North Park Academy, working with groups of students in the 7-8th and 5-6th grades. Recycle-A-Bicycle programs with youth from Baker Victory Services have continued to take place throughout 2009.

RUSTY CHAIN:
Flying Bison Brewery’s draft, “Rusty Chain” has continued to grow in popularity and has been picked up by the Brewery’s distributor, Try-it. This increase in distribution has brought the beer to well over thirty area establishments, increasing the revenue and exposure that the beer generates for GO-Buffalo. “Biketoberfest” at the Lafayette Tap Room was a huge success, and plans have begun for regular Rusty Chain fundraisers each spring and fall.

ORGANIZATIONAL GROWTH:
One of the biggest things to happen with Green Options Buffalo in 2009 was sowing the seeds for organizational growth. Under the guidance of a partnership of local business leaders, GO-Buffalo has taken the first steps towards becoming its own non-profit organization. An initial board of directors has been identified and by-laws have been drafted towards this end. GO-Buffalo has tripled the number of Recycle-A-Bicycle instructors on payroll and started its first full-time Americorps staff member in the fall of 2009. Green Options Buffalo has transitioned from a being a “program” of The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo to an “affiliate” of the Institute. The Wellness Institute has served as an incubator for GO-Buffalo, as it has for other organizations in the past, and both parties are readying for the changes and challenges ahead. With a number of significant funding opportunities on the horizon, 2010 promises to be an exciting year for Green Options Buffalo.

Donate Your Old Bicycles!
We are always accepting used or damaged bicycles. If you have an old bicycle that you would like to donate please feel free to drop it off to us at a
ny of our regularly scheduled workshop dates. The Buffalo Blue Bicycle workshop is open on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7pm to 10pm and on Sunday afternoons from 1pm to 5pm. All donations are tax-deductible. If you have any questions on donations, please feel free to contact us:

Green Options Buffalo
c/o The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo
65 Niagara Square Room 607
Buffalo, NY 14202
Phone: (716) 851-4052
Email: info@greenoptionsbuffalo.org 

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