Buffalo Leads the Bicycle Friendly Community Charge!
By Harvey Botzman & Justin Smith
Yesterday, we joined bicycling advocates from western New York and across the State to gather in Buffalo to hear Bill Nester, V.P. of programming for the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), explain the importance and benefits of participating in the Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) program. The gathering, which was organized and facilitated by local bicycle advocacy organization, GO Bike Buffalo, also highlighted the city’s pedal-powered prowess and growing number of impressive achievements – many of which are a result of the hard work and dedication of GO Bike Buffalo.
The Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) program is truly a great tool and “opportunity to make your community a vibrant destination for residents and visitors — a place where people don’t just live and work, but thrive.” The beauty this program is that it provides a road-map for local leaders and residents to better understand where the community currently is and where it needs to be. The program provides a means to document what exists and what is being done effectively in addition to helping to figure out what is missing and what needs to improve.
We think that it’s very important for each community to use the BFC program while at the same time forging their own distinct vision for achieving safe and enjoyable places for everyone to bike and walk. After all, while there is usually a lot of overlap, every community is different and has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.
By taking key steps to become a Bicycle Friendly Community, like adding and improving bike infrastructure such as protected bike lanes and trails, the BFC program benefits not only residents of your city but it also helps to attract people from other states and nations. Multiuse paths, rail trails, protected bike parking, great events like Buffalo’s Skyride and much more, are all BFC developments and activities that make people feel comfortable while biking in your town and region.
Likewise, there are a slew of studies that show the positive economic impact that results from people who bike as well as the infrastructure that is built for them. From spending money at local businesses, to increasing home and property values and improving employee productivity and lowering healthcare costs. Both residents and tourists who ride a bike will often visit more retail establishments and spend just as much or more than people who use other modes of transportation.
Overall, it was a great day and coalescing of advocates, local leaders like the Mayor of Buffalo, and many other awesome folks. It was inspiring to see the hard work, dedication and passion that is making Buffalo one of New York State’s leading cities for biking. The event attracted a lot of well-deserved media coverage. Justin Booth, executive director of GO Bike Buffalo, said the inspiration behind bringing everyone together was to encourage municipalities and counties to observe and exchange ideas which will contribute to the success of existing developments as well as spur new progress throughout New York State.
John Lam & Kristana Textor represented the Rochester Cycling Alliance; Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller, Harvey Botzman, along with President, Paul Winkeller, represented the New York Bicycling Coalition and rounded out the NYS representatives from areas outside of the Buffalo region.
The next exchange of observing bicycling facilities to encourage municipalities and counties to increase their commitment to providing bicycling facilities and qualify for the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Cities status will be hosted by the Rochester Cycling Alliance in 2016 – the final date and time are still to be decided.
Buffalo, Rochester and NYC are New York State’s only Bicycle Friendly Cities (All of which are bronze level). There are five different levels of Bicycle Friendly Community status; Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond.
Are you interested in helping your community achieve Bicycle Friendly Community status? Check out the important information and details below:
- Read more about the attributes of a Bicycle Friendly Community.
- Check out this infographic on the building blocks of a Bicycle Friendly Community.
- Here is the full list of Bicycle Friendly Community Application Questions (these questions may change to some degree after the 2016 deadline)
- The next application deadline is February, 11 2016 – the online application is available here.
- If you have any questions, contact Bill Nesper at the League of American Bicyclists by phone: 202-621-5444 or by email: [email protected]
- If you need any help and support with your application throughout the year, please email us at: [email protected] and list “Bicycle Friendly Community” in the subject line. We’d love to help promote your communities bicycle friendly efforts in any way we can, so feel free to contact us about what your community is doing.