Yesterday I met up with a relatively new Buffalonian who was born in Helsinki, Finland. He told me that before moving to Buffalo, he tuned into the local media and discovered that this city was making waves in the pro cycling and pedestrian realms. He felt that Buffalo would be a good place to move to (for a job) since the community and The City appeared to care about increasing these types of efforts, which tend to make cities better places to live.
After arriving to Buffalo, my friend was surprised that Buffalo was still a bit further behind when it came to cycling and pedestrian achievements. At the same time, he noticed that there was an increase in civic engagement in these departments, which led him to believe that the city was on its way to becoming a truly bike and pedestrian friendly city.
As we talked, we discussed some of the low hanging fruit when it comes to making Buffalo a better, safer bike commuting city. While many bike lanes and paths have been added as of late, there is still a long way to go to connect the dots. There are numerous prime candidate streets that should be addressed immediately, that would drastically increase bike ridership in Buffalo. Yes, it’s great to have a bike lane on Richmond that connects to Porter, which then leads to the waterfront. But to traverse the city from Richmond is still quite a task. The bike lanes on Delaware Avenue are an incredible addition. But where do they extend to on either end?
The City needs to speed up the process of connecting the bike lanes and paths that it has already created. Buffalo is competing to retain its young people, who look to other cities for the most advanced bike and public transportation advancements.
This morning, a Buffalo Rising reader passed along a PDF called Sharing the city: How seven cities are re-inventing mobility for everyone (presented by Xerox). In the study, seven progressive cities are analyzed, to see how their respective transportation initiatives are leading to better tomorrows for their citizens.
“Cities with more bike traffic are generally cities we want to live in. Our cities were not made for automobiles, and it is becoming clear that it doesn’t work. The best thing is to have a good mix of public transportation and bicycles.” – Mikael Colville-Andersen Founder, Copenhagenize
In the study, the challenges are laid out, as are the solutions, many of which are low lifts. There are wonderful examples of how cities (much larger than Buffalo) were able to change by simply being open to the idea that people want to live in places that offer walkability, cycling resources, and dynamic public transportation options.
“It’s possible to change your streets quickly – it’s not expensive, it can provide immediate benefits, and it can be quite popular.” – Janette Sadik-Khan Former Transportation Commissioner, New York City
If you want to learn more about how enhanced bike culture and walkability can drastically change cities, be sure to read through this succinct PDF. It features seven synopsis case studies that tell the transportation tales of how each city came to see the light.