May is Bike Month, a proclamation that prompted GO Bike Buffalo to organize an ambitious series of events aimed at promoting cycling. Executive Director Justin Booth says they saved the biggest event for the last day of the month. "We're going to be doing a bicycle ride over the Skyway, the Buffalo Skyride."
The ride begins at Canalside, loops over the Skyway and will use many of the city's newer bike lanes as riders work their way north toward Delaware Park.
Using the Niagara River Greenway, the ride will return eventually to Canalside where Booth says riders can enjoy for variety of perks like "Flying Bison Brewery...their beer they started with us called 'Rusty Chain,' and we'll have a number of food trucks there."
"It's a celebration of bicycling in Buffalo. The progress that we've seen over the last couple of years," says Booth, who believes Buffalo is following a trend toward biking that has taken hold in places like Portland, Oregon, Minneapolis and New York City.
"Over the last 10 years we've seen over 270 percent increase to bicycle commute in Buffalo," Booth said.
"Out of the top 70 largest cities, Buffalo ranks number 14 in the percentage of people commuting to work by bike. We're higher than the national average."
"That actually correlates to the city's investment in adding more bicycle infrastructure. Study after study shows when you make it safe for people to ride and ride more often, you're going to get more people out in the street. When you get more people out in the street, the safety actually improves because more people are more accustomed to seeing more cyclists, seeing more pedestrians out there on the roadways."
Bike lanes are being added as construction continues on Ohio Street, Niagara Street and Ellicott Street near the Medical Campus.
"The mayor has made a commitment to adding ten more miles of bicycle lanes per year."
The inexpensive nature of cycling is motivating more people to consider commuting on two wheels.
"It costs $10,000 a year, according to Triple A, to own, operate and maintain a vehicle. That's $10,000 that can be back in people's pockets," Booth said.
That personal savings can bring about positive results for a community.
"There was a study that was done that showed because Portlanders (Oregon) drive four less miles than the average American, they are able to demonstrate $2.6 billion back into the local economy," Booth said.
"They equate that to also having the highest number of microbreweries per capita in the United States."