GOBike Buffalo is continuing its effort to make our streets safer and more accessible. 

GOBike Buffalo, which moved its headquarters from 98 Colvin Street to 131 Broadway in April of last year, is a bustling sphere of activity and collaboration. Rows of bikes, equipment, and tools line the walls and shelves of the shop. Up a spiral flight of stairs, in the GOBike office space, 12 full-time employees work the various functions of the two shops. Mechanics, engineers, and program coordinators work together with a shared goal in mind: A safer and more accessible network of transportation for all Buffalonians. 

131 Broadway – Project architect Abstract Architecture

The organization was founded in 2010 by Justin Booth and a small team of organizers. Beginning as a form of rideshare, similar to the Ready Bike stands we see spotted around the city, GOBike Buffalo quickly transformed into a broader biking resource. As the years went on the team grew, along with their ability to meet the needs of Buffalonian commuters. 

Each Wednesday and Saturday GOBike opens its doors to all riders needing mechanical care, technical guidance, and community engagement. The Youth Recycle-a-Bicycle program and the Youth Bike Giveaway, in addition to the various pop-up mobile repair tents set up around the city, highlight the authentic desire of GOBike to not only service cyclists but also to help them learn the skills necessary to sustainably and safely bike the streets of Buffalo. Open access to both tools and mechanics is key for riders who would otherwise deem their bikes finished at the snap of a chain or the pop of a tire. 

Photos courtesy GOBike Buffalo

“The whole thing is about accessibility and mobility,” Adam Lanni, the Community Workshop Director for GOBike Buffalo, said about the program. “Everybody needs to get somewhere. To the store, to school, to work. We just try and make that process more accessible.”

98 Colvin Street

98 Colvin Street remains as the donation drop-off center and is open every Tuesday from 5-8 PM. Fleets of donated, repaired, and recycled bikes fill the old building and are consistently wheeled back into the community for use on the road. 

The uphill battle fought by the employees of GOBike Buffalo consists of challenging a car-centric city and culture by illustrating the undeniable needs of those without a vehicle.  “The roads are built for speed,” Kevin Heffernan, Communications Director for the organization, said when discussing the issue of road collisions and fatality within Erie County. 

“The heights and speeds of the cars, their visibility, and wariness or lack thereof for pedestrians and bikers are just a few factors.” So, as a city, how do we counter these oftentimes colliding modes of transportation? According to GOBike Buffalo, we start with “Creating road and intersection designs that automatically slow drivers down and make them pay attention.”

GOBike Buffalo’s planning department is made up of several dedicated individuals, including Jim Jones, a licensed traffic engineer who helps with the structuring of the safe zones. 

Photo courtesy GOBike Buffalo

They have started with simple but effective improvements to sections of Buffalo streets which see large numbers of both vehicles and bicycles. ‘Bump outs’ on intersection corners in addition to brightly painted bike lanes are used to curb the speed and lack of visibility of drivers. ‘Sharrow’ signs painted on the asphalt and erected on signposts help indicate to commuters that the road they drive on is shared. Modifications like these help put intersections and roads one step closer to complete streets. “Paint on the ground doesn’t stop cars from driving over them, but they help, and they are a start.” Kevin said. These additions are followed by detailed surveys of the neighborhood response, all in an attempt to heighten the standard of separation between cars, bikes, and pedestrians.

Photos courtesy GOBike Buffalo

The finalized analysis by GOBike Buffalo is then handed over to the city, where it is considered for long-term application. “It makes it tough because we are often working on streets which are in some state of disrepair,” Kevin said. 

Snow in the winter and potholes in the summer, combined with the lack of DUI, speeding, and hazardous parking ticketing by the Buffalo PD, demands more sustainably established roadways and accountability for dangerously neglected intersections. 

In 2022 the Buffalo Common Council detailed the offense of parking in a bike lane, but despite the law, according to the city’s public data portal, not one ticket for bike lane obstruction has been issued in the 2 years the statute has been in place. 

Not one ticket for bike lane obstruction has been issued in the 2 years the statute has been in place. 

One example of GOBike Buffalo’s substantiated effect on public roadways can be seen at the intersection of Parkside and Linden. Referred to as the “First protected intersection in Western New York”, the 2023 protected crossway project was a definite success, with resident support outlined in GOBike’s Post-Implementation Report published in October of last year. 

“We’ve put everything we know about beautiful spaces that are also safe for children, the elderly, commuters on bikes and in cars, all into the planning process. It not only results in a safer city but a stronger and better connected one as well.” 

“We are not out to eradicate cars. We are out to promote the other realistic and sustainable options.” 

Kevin Heffernan

This community-influenced organization is set on shifting the conversation around the street and transportation infrastructure, specifically in correlation to public health and welfare. 30% of Buffalonian drivers, each time they get behind the wheel, drive no more than one mile. Relying on community input from surveys and conversations, GOBike believes that “So many community members would bike if they could, or if they had access to a bike, or if they felt safe.” All members of GOBike Buffalo own a vehicle. “We are not out to eradicate cars,” Kevin said, “We are out to promote the other realistic and sustainable options.” 

SkyRide 2023 – Photo provided by GOBike Buffalo 

The avenues for engagement within the Buffalo biking community are far and in between. On July 21st, just like last year and the year before that, Buffalo’s Skyway will be shutting down to make room for an enthusiastic crowd on wheels. The 10th annual SkyRide is expected to have the biggest turnout yet, launching from the Outer Harbor and lasting the whole morning. Families and solo riders alike are invited to take laps on the Skyway North and South, which offers an exciting high-rise view of downtown Buffalo. The post-ride party will include concessions and plenty of energy through the sets of DJ Milk, a longtime DJ for the Buffalo Bills. 

If you are looking to service your bike or learn more about GOBike Buffalo’s pending projects, stop in at the Broadway location, where the GOBike staff is continuing its effort to raise awareness in the community and enact change in our city. 

The post GOBike Buffalo is continuing its effort to make our streets safer and more accessible.  appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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