By Ryan McConaghy
This year, Buffalo could be poised to improve living conditions in the city by cutting traffic and expanding transportation options – if the rest of New York State can get around a roadblock in Albany created by the Manhattan delegation.
The New York State Assembly and Senate are currently considering this year’s budget and provisions that would modernize the state’s transportation system. One such provision would authorize cities across the state to write their own rules for adopting electric scooters, opening up a convenient and affordable transportation alternative – something Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo rightly champions as a way to alleviate New York commuting problems.
However, some of Manhattan’s state senators and assembly members have banded together to stop this legislation from moving forward, driven by local political concerns unrelated to scooter and dockless bike technology. If the Manhattan delegation keeps stalling, upstate cities like Buffalo may have to wait another year before micromobility becomes available in their neighborhoods.
Shared electric scooters and dockless bikes would provide innumerable community benefits to cities like Buffalo. As safe and convenient as bicycles, electric scooters allow for commuters to quickly get to where they’re going without having to wait on public transportation schedules or pay for parking on the street. Inexpensive and affordable, they also often cost less than a train ride or ride-share car trip.
In fact, electric scooters replace car trips, taking more vehicles off the roads and reducing the congestion that personal vehicles cause. Fewer cars means less pollution and electric scooters help produce a more environmentally friendly, sustainable transportation system.
Electric scooters would help fill a vital last-mile transportation gap that exists in places like Buffalo, helping to bring commuters even closer to their ultimate destinations.
In Buffalo, congestion costs each driver more than $1,000 per year, causing unnecessary stress for commuters. Residents in cities across New York experience high delays, travel times and congestion costs that they should be able to address while New York City makes its own choices.
It isn’t the place of Buffalonians to tell New Yorkers how they can get from Delmonico’s to Radio City Music Hall. New Yorkers shouldn’t interfere with how Buffalonians can get from Gabriel’s Gate to KeyBank Center – particularly when shared electric scooter services would help boost the economy by creating jobs and increasing foot traffic for small businesses at zero cost to taxpayers.
Stalling on the authorization of electric scooters only stalls the modernization of Buffalo.
Ryan McConaghy is executive director of the Micromobility Coalition.