The Buffalo bike landscape is beginning to change, thanks to the ongoing equity and sustainability efforts of Shared Mobility Inc. (SMI), a Western New York nonprofit organization. In July of 2020, I wrote about “The Future of e-Bikes in Buffalo,” with plans to roll out free “Transportation Libraries.” Now, that vision is here in WNY, thanks to an effort spearheaded by the Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative (CHNFC) and East Side Bike Club, a program of Buffalo United Front (BUF).
The program’s implementation will be based on how the community sees fit to build more equitable and sustainable neighborhoods.
“E-bikes can have a great impact on health equity in our region by making cycling more appealing to wider audiences of varying age and skill level,” said Brian Archie, community integrator with the CHNFC. “We’re glad to work with Shared Mobility Inc. to test for the best ways to help bridge gaps in transportation and health equity in Niagara Falls, especially among Black and Brown communities.”
It is widely known that Buffalo is not the most progressive city when it comes to public transportation. If you compound that with a segment of the population that does not own, or have access to cars, then there’s an equity issue that must be addressed. By providing easy-to-access, free and inexpensive means of transportation to underserved community members, SMI hopes to level the playing field in WNY – whether that playing field is work-based, or recreational-based.
By making available pedal assist e-bikes to residents throughout WNY, riders will be able to go further, faster, while getting fit and enjoying the ride along the way.
“The pedal assist is a remarkable technology that can help ease someone into riding at their own pace,” Archie explained.
Shared Mobility, or SMI, procured a donation of used e-bikes in 2020 which became the catalyst for the E-Bike Library Project.
In order to bring this project to fruition, SMI has received donations from the following sources:
- Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
- Better Bike Share Partnership: a collaboration funded by The JPB Foundation to increase access to and use of shared micromobility systems in low-income and BIPOC communities. The partners include The City of Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation.
“This project will combine our knowledge and expertise in mobility program startups with the experience of local community leaders and the needs of the people they serve,” said Mike Galligano, chief executive officer, Shared Mobility Inc, “It has the potential to be transformative for communities that currently lack equitable mobility options.”
“In terms of uplifting our neighborhoods and in providing a healthy, fun transportation option – particularly for our weekly group rides – e-bikes have potential to really impact and connect the community this summer and beyond,” said George Johnson, Founder of Buffalo United Front.
According to SMI’s E-Bike Pilot Project Planner, Tyler Madell, this is something completely new and never been done anywhere before: “The CHNFC and East Bike Bike Club are truly pioneers because this project will help inform similar initiatives in Los Angeles in which SMI is supporting. This is a chance to learn and share best practices of e-bike libraries with Western New York leading the way.”
The project will officially launch this summer. Until then, the project’s partners are planning logistics as well as recruiting local ambassadors to support outreach and engagement efforts.
“This program is a key step in introducing electric micromobility (EMM) to Buffalo and the broader Western New York region” said Galligano. SMI is currently working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to research and demonstrate EMM technologies, including e-bikes. “The launch of the E-Bike Library Project is a huge step forward to helping uplift communities through equitable and sustainable mobility options.”
The e-bikes and Transportation Libraries is just another facet – a spoke or cog – that will help to drive equitable public transportation in WNY in years to come.
Galligano hopes that this pilot launch will lead to more long-term programming efforts, which is why it is so important for community members to voice their support for the project.
SMI hopes that this program will build upon the popularity of its Reddy Bikeshare program in partnership with Independent Health, and to expand the community of cyclists in WNY.
To take part in the NYSERDA electric micromobility (EMM) project, residents are now invited to participate in group rides, attend demonstration events, and hop aboard a revolutionary movement that is gaining speed (and ground) throughout the world.
Residents of Niagara Falls are encouraged to attend a men’s health Father’s Day event on June 19 at the Community Health Center of Niagara, at 2715 Highland Ave. From 10-1, residents can receive a demonstration, try out an e-bike, and provide feedback in a survey.
An opportunity to do so in Buffalo will take place at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park this Saturday, June 12 during East Side Bike Club’s weekly group ride starting at 10 am and at Broderick Park on June 26-27. Instructions on how to participate in the program will be released in the next month.
For more information on e-bike technology and the concept of “e-bike libraries” visit sharedmobility.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details on the community aspect of the E-Bike Library Project, Community members of Buffalo’s East Side, can contact George Johnson for more details at 716-818-3410 and Niagara Falls residents can contact Brian Archie at email@example.com.