Credit is due to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus for encouraging employees to use greener and healthier means of getting to and from work by taking advantage of public transportation and pedal power.
It is a good strategy for easing the parking crunch that will only get worse with thousands more workers about to join the workforce. And it will help those employees and medical school students develop lifelong habits that will benefit themselves and the environment.
The grounds of the Medical Campus have been bustling. Gates Vascular Institute and the University at Buffalo’s Clinical and Translational Research Center opened in 2012. Conventus Medical Office Building and Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Clinical Sciences Center opened within the past year.
The John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences are scheduled to open by the end of the year.
There will be an astounding number of people in a relatively small space. It would be virtually impossible to create the parking infrastructure that would be needed if everyone drives to work.
Instead, the BNMC is taking a proactive approach in getting its expected 15,000 employees to work each day. The nonprofit umbrella organization coordinates transportation and other neighborhood initiatives on the 120-acre Medical Campus.
Officials recently hired a new program manager, Thea Hassan, to work on neighborhood transportation initiatives. Hassan is trying to get folks out into the sunshine and fresh air by persuading them to bicycle to work.
For those concerned about which route to take or who want to brush up on the rules of the road, Hassan is creating the Bike Sherpa. It’s an ingenious buddy system designed to ease the nervousness beginners might feel about a bicycle commute.
GoBike Buffalo and Reddy Bikeshare have been an integral part of the effort to replace pushing the gas pedal with pushing the bike pedals. Reddy Bikeshare had more than a half-dozen rental bikes on campus last year. This year a second station on the Medical Campus is being added, bringing the total to 200 bikes at 35 stations throughout the city. The bikes rent by the hour or through a yearly $55 membership. There will be a free trial membership to encourage employees to bike to work.
The Bike Sherpa service would be available once every few weeks for a limited time and is free and open to Medical Campus employees.
The nonprofit will also work to make it easier for commuters who want to use Metro Rail. The newly renovated Allen-Medical Campus Station is inside UB’s new medical school building, making it very convenient for workers, students and visitors. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is providing even more incentive to take public transportation with a six-month trial of a corporate discount program that could cut the cost of a $75 monthly pass to as low as $38.50 for some bus and rail commuters.
Parking crunches are signs of the growing importance of the Medical Campus. Plans to ease them show forward thinking.