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In embracing the bicycle, Buffalo reaches for a cleaner, healthier more inviting future

Imagine wending throughout the City of Buffalo on a bicycle, comfortably navigating streets that were once the sole haven of gas-powered engines.

In this new world order, drivers of vehicles make way for a steadier increase in bicyclists. Both realize sharing the road is easy. One slows down to make way for the other.

That is exactly what is happening in different parts of the city, where roads have been reconfigured as necessary so that bicycle lanes could be added. And the result is encouraging.

Quality of life – not to mention air quality – is improving as more opportunities arise to exercise and stay fit while reconnecting with friends and family. Businesses benefit as potential customers slow down long enough to browse stores. Parking is never an issue.

Thanks to visionary bicycle enthusiasts pushing for years for more lanes and the political will to make it happen, the new bicycle master plan offers an even greater infrastructure and facility to put Buffalo more firmly on the map of bicycle-friendly cities.

The bicycle master plan found on Gobikebuffalo.org recommends 300 miles of bike lanes throughout the city, which is more than triple the current number. The result will make bicycling a safer and more viable option.

The plan was released by Mayor Byron W. Brown in partnership with Gobike Buffalo, whose champion, Justin Booth, has been a stalwart leader in the effort to make the city more bicycle-friendly. The mayor, as the city’s top elected leader, has been consistent in his support, committing to adding 10 miles of bicycle lanes each year. Since 2008, the number of miles has increased from 20 to 83.

Although the master plan recommends a total of 300 miles of bike lanes across the city over 10 years, the city is already on pace to reach 150 miles by 2018. New lanes will be added this year along Niagara, Pearl and Carolina streets and Kenmore, Forest, South Elmwood and Parkridge avenues. Just that work alone will bring the number of bicycle lane miles to more than 90.

The bicycle master plan brings many parts together – roadways and greenways, incorporating summaries of existing plans from the Queen City Hub to Complete Streets to Olmsted to the Green Code and imagining how it all fits together.

The plan leverages “Buffalo’s radial grid street pattern to propose a complete and connected network of on-street bikeways to complement the existing greenway trails. This network will connect the many destinations within the city to places where people live, learn, work and play.”

One of the major strengths of the plan is that it focuses on “diversity, inclusion and equity” and includes the Buffalo Opportunity Pledge, led by the mayor and signed by those dedicated to working toward a more “diverse, inclusive and equitable” community.

Growing the city’s reputation as a walkable community, in which non-motorized transportation is supported, serves the greater good. The result will make people want to locate here, helping companies to recruit while improving conditions for those already here.

This new master plan will be the catalyst to ensure Buffalo becomes a world-class bicycling city.