Buffalo owes its evolving bike culture to a handful of people who continue to demonstrate the need for safer streets, longer trails, bike racks, etc. These figureheads include crews from GObike Buffalo, Buffalo Lazy Randonneur Club, and Slow Roll Buffalo. What we have learned in recent years is that bike-friendly initiatives from a handful of people, or even one person, can lead to significant changes.
Dániel Shafer is one of those people. Dániel – an engineer by trade – recently reached out to me, to tell me about his desire to take Buffalo to another level, when it comes to pushing the bike envelope. To start, he wants to build a brigade of bike advocates who will share their expertise, in a collective setting. Dániel feels that if bike enthusiasts can come together to make and create, in a conducive hub setting, the possibilities would be endless.
I met up with Dániel last week, to check out his home studio, where he designs and builds bike frames. It was shortly after my arrival that I learned that he was also a sculptor. One of his works – Spirit of Community – proudly sits at the entranceway of Hotel Henry.
It was Dániel’s prowess as a sculptor and engineer that led him to fashioning bike frames. As a frame builder (Maiorossé Cycles) in Buffalo, he began to look around the city, to find like-minded makers and creators that he could team up and collaborate with. What he found was a void in that realm. There was no place where people could come together, to share their interests in various elements of DIY bike culture – frame building, leather stitching, clothing designing… right down to the production of high carb foods energetic cyclists. What if Buffalo had a maker’s guild dedicated to bike culture? What if Dániel was the one to launch the project?
Currently, Dániel is looking at different spaces that could be a good fit for the makers’ guild. While he is searching for the ideal space, he’s searching for others who share his vision. That person might be a cyclist who is also a barista. Or someone that makes high carb treats, who’s happens to be a bike enthusiast. The arrangements for the space could be similar to that of a cooperative, or a sublease scenario. Dániel is open to a number of arrangements – whatever best suits the guild.
Ultimately, Dániel is a traveler. He left Buffalo in 1996, upon which time he lived in Hungary, Mexico, Japan, Italy, and Germany. These are the countries where he learned to appreciate the importance of fundamental and refined bike culture. When he boomeranged back to Buffalo, he decided that it was time to advance the city’s bike-friendly agenda. It starts by building a community of enthusiasts. Yes, there are avid cyclists who love to ride, but beyond that the experience is somewhat limiting for those who want to go further.
Dániel understands that he could go it alone, fabricating bespoke steel-framed bikes in his studio. That would be the easy, painless way out. At the same time, he would always wonder what if? What if there were others out there who were looking to part of a collaborative? What if there’s someone that wants to learn the trade? What if there are people who care about the art of the bike as much as I do? What if I could share and learn from others who happen to believe that a bike is akin to a kinetic sculpture, like I do?
As we wrapped up our conversation, Dániel picked up a lightweight frame that he was working on and tapped a tube with his finger. Then he did it again on a different tube.
“Hear that?” he asked. “They chime like bells…”
I heard it, and more. I heard a guy who is so passionate about the art of the bike that he will stop at nothing to make sure that the city where he lives moves in the right direction.
Anyone interested in being a part of a bespoke bike-forward guild is invited to reach out to Dániel, to find out how they can contribute to the mission at hand. Whether it’s an itch to construct a bike bag or clothing, or a desire to create a velodrome in Buffalo (big picture stuff), Dániel wants people to know that the movement has begun and the wheels are now turning.