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A Simple Six: West Virginia’s Loss is Buffalo’s Gain

I stumbled on a wonderful new blog called A Simple Six.  It is written by the mom of a family of six plus one exchange student who are new to Buffalo (2 months new).  The dad recently landed a position at SUNY Buffalo State College.  The family packed up and moved from Huntington west Virginia in August of this year. Stacy, the mom writes:

A friend: When do you need to be in Buffalo?
Me: I don’t. Brent does.
Friend: Ohhhh….
Me: Yeah, I don’t want to talk about it.
It’s not that Buffalo is going to be a tragic move. The city is wonderful, unique, diverse, and will be a welcomed challenge and experience. It’s that I have a lot going on here in Huntington personally. We have a life here, with good work, great people, a fabulous home and garden, and I find the timing of all this a bit stressful…

Picking up your life and transferring to a new city is a big deal and not easy in any way. Moving with 4 kids makes it exponentially more difficult.  The blog talks about the looming move deadline, selling their WV house, and being outbid on a Buffalo house they were interested in.   What is interesting to me about this family is that they don’t own a car and don’t intend to for as long as they can manage.  The Blog deals mainly with their efforts to simplify and downsize their lives.  They went from owning 2 cars to just 1 and now own no car.  They get around, all 6 plus 1 of them, mostly by bike with an occasional supplement using car share, Metro Rail, and Bus.  From the Blog:

We are currently doing our best to bicycle everywhere we can in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding area. We recently relocated from Huntington, WV, where we spent two-year cycling and using our only car, a Honda Odyssey occasionally. We left the van in WV and began our NY life without a vehicle. As a family we can be found reading stories in the living room on weekends. Our week days lives have us scattered to the winds. We try to make conscientious decisions that are best for the community and the planet.

Several of the Buffalo blog entries talk about discovering a new city by bike.  I found it fascinating reading.  Bikes can be an efficient and enjoyable means of transportation and recreation but a majority of major cities in this country are designed in a way that is hostile to bikes.  Buffalo has recently started improving its bike infrastructure but there is still a long way to go.  For someone new to the city  learning where the bike infrastructure is, finding support groups, and meeting like-minded people is a daunting experience.  The blog deals with these frustrations as well as the joys of a new place.  For instance, the family recently made their way by Bike to the Buffalo Museum of Science and found that Humboldt Parkway, heading south the museum, was a quiet easy to ride with few cars and well-marked with a bike lane.  The route back unfortunately was on the other side of the highway and was marked with a bike lane for only half the trip. Stacy admits that the ease of car ownership is a temptation:

I maintain that I am uncertain about any future car ownership. The temptation is strong to buy another van, giving us the “walk out the door and into the car” convenience for out-of-town trips. I think the urge might be reduced if our local car share had a van parked in our neighborhood.

Whether they end up with a car or not I am sure this family will be doing far more biking than most.  Reading through their still very young Buffalo adventure it is clear that they have already experienced Buffalo in more intimate way than most who have lived a lifetime in Western New York.  Biking will do that to you.  Going carless in American cities takes a lot of dedication and force of will. Buffalo cannot lose when it snags a family like this.  Make Biking in the city easier in Buffalo will tempt a lot more energetic, enthusiastic families like this to make Buffalo their home.

One more thing.  Stacy says that Buffalo needs to do this a kidicalmass

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

View All Articles by David Steele
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