Saturday, May 12, 2018

Biking making a path in Buffalo’s culture

By Marcus Darby
Bengal News West Reporter

As you drive down Elmwood Avenue, you might notice the presence of a huge cyclist culture. Blue bike racks decorate each block and even the ones outside of coffee shops have sometimes three or four bikes locked in them. As you turn down Lafayette Avenue and reach the intersection with Grant Street, you’ll also see a row of red bikes lined up for rent.
All over the area you’ll notice sharrows and green bike lanes that make a way for cyclists to safely travel. This is when you realize it’s just as popular to ride a bike as it is to drive a car.
         The cycling culture is becoming a huge trend in cities all over America and leaders are making it easier and safer for those who choose it as their primary means of transportation.
Buffalo is becoming the latest city to make the adjustments, in an effort to attract the younger demographic to the city.
Cycling has become a huge trend in the area over the past decade. The city has made the roads and neighborhoods more bicycle friendly.
Not only do these changes promote the culture of cycling but it makes the city more eco-friendly too.

Kowalik, on the growing popularity of biking in the city:

“The city has definitely done a lot to make the roads safer for cyclists,” said Jenn Kowalik, manager at Campus Wheelworks. “We are all really excited about the plans the city has come out with.”
Bike lanes and sharrows have been installed throughout the city to promote awareness to motor vehicle drivers that the road is to be shared with cyclists.
Sharrows are simply decals on the road as opposed to bike lanes, which give cyclists their own lane of traffic which they can safely travel on.
In the summer and fall seasons there are numerous events that cater to the cycling community such as the Slow Roll and smaller community events that involve physical fitness and more.
Bikes for rent on Grant Street and Lafayette Avenue
Rick Cycle Shop, 55 Allen St., has been involved in the growth of community events.
“We help plan and hold numerous events that include cycling such as women only events as well as numerous charity events,” said Tom Azzarella, manager.
Events like these attract people to the cycling culture. In fact, that is one of the goals for another local bike shop.
Campus Wheelworks located at 744 Elmwood Ave., is also an important catalyst in the cyclists’ culture on the West Side.
“We definitely want to promote the cycling culture. The community events we hold help people realize that there are groups in the area they can join in on,” Kowalik said.
Campus Wheelworks is looking to expand the cycling trend further into the West Side with plans to build a new facility on Niagara Street to create a safer environment for cyclists in the lower West Side.
Bike lanes and sharrows on Niagara Street
“The new building is an addition to the Wheelworks family. There is a lot of misinformation regarding that, but the Elmwood location will remain open,” she said.
Niagara Street is a wider road, which makes adding protected bike lanes easier for the city without squeezing traffic as opposed to Elmwood Avenue, where the space is limited and adding actual bike lanes may be impossible without making significant changes to the area.
The cyclists culture has become an integral part of the West Side neighborhoods. No matter what culture, religion, or ethnicity you identify with cycling has brought them all together.