Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Bicycle Infrastructure

“Buffalo Is Missing Out”: When Good Bike Cities Improve, It Helps Everyone

Dearborn Street, Chicago. Photo: Steven E. Gross.

PlacesForBikes is a PeopleForBikes program to help U.S. communities build better biking, faster. You can follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook or sign up for their weekly news digest about building all-ages biking networks.

If you live in an important, underrated, but perhaps economically beleaguered U.S. city, you've probably seen a local news website like Buffalo Rising: upbeat, opinionated, and really, really into its hometown.

Last week, Buffalo Rising founder Newell Nussbaumer also provided the perfect example of why constant improvements in the "best bike cities" help improve the lives of Americans everywhere.

It’s funny. Just as I was thinking about posting a link to an article in TheAtlantic.com about the benefits of the protected bike lane, Pedal Tour operator Phil Szal sent me a note saying that he had been doing some traveling to other cities, and he was amazed at how the protected bike lane had become a standard convenience.

“It’s time for Buffalo to get DEDICATED bike lanes in the city,” wrote Phil. “It’s embarrassing that ALL cool progressive cities have them everywhere… except us.”

It’s true. Buffalo is just beginning to jump on this bandwagon. Yes, there is a Bicycle Master Plan in place, but it’s not happening quick enough. ... Why the heck can’t we get Michigan Avenue as a cross-city bike corridor immediately? How long will we have to wait to get bike amenities on Delavan Avenue, from Main Street to Delaware Avenue?

This may or may not be heartening to Nussbaumer, Szal, and others fighting to improve Buffalo, but this is exactly the conversation that Portlanders were having (presumably by telephone) when they started agitating to widen the sidewalks across the Willamette River, triggering a bike boom in a decaying industrial city.

It's exactly the way Minneapolitans started dreaming about converting an old railroad bed to the Midtown Greenway, and the way New Yorkers started pushing, years before Janette Sadik-Khan ran the transportation department, for protected bike lanes along Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

It's even the way Amsterdammers gradually revitalized Jodenbreestraat, today one of that city's most bustling shopping districts.

Transit writer Jarrett Walker once wrote that when they admire a pleasant street or other public space in a city they visit, tourists should also see it in bygone political context: as "a battlefield memorial, recording a triumph that involved major pain and suffering."

Every time people in Austin, San Francisco, or Fort Collins win a struggle for better transportation, they're not the only ones who benefit. Their victories empower, inspire and inform people in San Antonio, Sacramento, and Colorado Springs, whose own successes will inspire others.

This is how good ideas spread. This is why every local battle matters.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

The Paris Plan for Olympic Traffic? Build More Bike Lanes

A push to make Paris fully bikable for the Olympics is already paying dividends long before the opening ceremonies.

July 25, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines Face Our Fears

What happens if Republicans win the trifecta in November? Judging by the GOP-controlled House budget, a lot less money for transit, Smart Cities Dive reports.

July 25, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines Are in a Good Place

How should we react to public indifference about the danger cars pose to society? Perhaps a sitcom has something to teach us.

July 24, 2024

Opinion: Is Kamala Harris ‘The Climate President We’ve Been Waiting For’?

Kamala Harris fought hard for a better transportation plan in the San Diego region despite big political risks. If elected president, will she do the same for the country?

July 24, 2024

America is Setting Micromobility Records — But That Boom Could Go Bust Without Public Funding

Shared bike and scooter trips soared 20 percent in a single year. So why are so many U.S. systems shutting down — and what will it take to keep the revolution rolling?

July 24, 2024
See all posts