Bicyclists celebrated the end of “Bike to Work Week” on Friday by heralding a planned bike path that will link Canalside to the Outer Harbor and also a master plan on making Buffalo more bike-friendly.
“I’m really enthusiastic about where we’re headed,” said Anthony Armstrong, 36, who rides a mile and a half to work every day, no matter the weather. He said the ranks of cyclists on area roads are more diverse, and he has also noticed drivers are generally more accommodating.
“With more cyclists on the road it’s gotten a bit calmer out there,” he said.
A few dozen who rode bikes and braved the rain Friday gathered under a tent on the Buffalo Medical Campus to mark the national ride-to-work event.
Justin Booth, executive director of Go Bike Buffalo, told them Buffalo has made strides at becoming an easier city for bike riding. The city ranked 14th in the United States for residents who commute to work by bike, according to 2012 Census data analyzed by the League of American Cyclists.
About 1.6 percent of city residents commute by bike regularly, and 100 cyclists on the Medical Campus participated in Bike to Work Week, Booth said.
Despite the cold weather, the city is appealing to cyclists because it’s flat, said Booth, who commutes by bike all year long.
“It’s easier to add more clothes than to take too many clothes off,” he said. “It’s really a matter of having the right gear and really preparing yourself for it.”
Booth said Buffalo’s reputation as a bicycle-friendly city will continue to grow as more bicycle lanes are added.
A new bike path, separated from the roadway, is being added to Ohio Street, where a $11.3 million transformation is taking place between Michigan Avenue and Route 5/Fuhrmann Boulevard. The new streetscape is expected to be ready by summer 2015.
The city has committed to adding 10 miles of bicycle lanes per year. By next year, the city will have 70 bicycle lane miles, Mayor Byron W. Brown said.
Alta Planning and Design, a consulting firm, will work on a bicycle master plan over the next year.
“The goal would be to add more lanes, to make the city more bicycle friendly, to look at infrastructure improvements we need to continue to make in the city to ultimately make the process of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians co-exist better in the city,” Brown said.
The study will seek input from riders at all levels and look to identify routes that are friendly to families and those routes that are more appropriate for advanced riders.
The Medical Campus has embraced alternative forms of transportation in its planning, from emphasizing Metro Rail to instituting a bike-share program on the campus.
Matthew K. Enstice, president and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc., said more bike lanes will make it easier for people to commute to work.
“It really is that infrastructure that’s going to change the mindset,” he said.
Tim Staszak, 30, whose 2-mile commute takes him from his home on the West Side to his job on Main Street downtown, said education of drivers and cyclists on the rules of the road would be helpful.
Cyclists are “human beings with families,” he said, adding that drivers are “in a giant machine that could crush them.” Cyclists will also be able to ride on the Skyway, which will be closed to traffic May 31. Registration for the ride is available at www.gobikebuffalo.org/skyride.