Published on December 4th, 2015 | by Bradley Cantor0
Innovation Spotlight: GOBike Buffalo
In the lead up to our Western New York Environmental Alliance 2015 Congress we launched a blog series aimed at highlighting and celebrating our local climate innovators. Today’s innovator: GOBike Buffalo
Written by Shannon Trubatch
In 2013, the EPA estimated that greenhouse gas emissions from transportation accounted for about 27% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the second largest contributor of U.S. emissions after the electricity sector. Passenger cars accounted for over half of the emissions from the transportation sector. Transportation continues to be one of the largest contributors to climate change.
A number of individuals and organizations within Western New York are seeking solutions and alternatives to address the complex issue of how people move throughout our region. GOBike Buffalo is one such organization that is working to develop healthy, environmentally sustainable, community friendly transportation options within the city of Buffalo.
In the early 2000s, Justin Booth, Executive Director at GObike Buffalo, says he first noticed how alternative transportation methods were lacking the infrastructure to make them feasible for everyone. “I started riding my bike every day to work, and I realized how challenging that was,” says Booth. Working with others who sought to create a bike-friendly city, Booth started what would eventually become GObike Buffalo.
In 2004, GObike started a community workshop called Buffalo Blue Bicycle, which provided the first bike share system in our region and gave people the tools and knowledge to repair and maintain a bicycle. Their goal was simple, says Booth. “We wanted to get people out of their cars and get them to ride their bikes more often.”
GObike quickly grew from teaching people how to fix and repair their own bikes, to trying to work with the city to develop policy and infrastructure to support safe cycling. By 2005, GObike Buffalo had worked with the City Council to establish a Bike Pedestrian advisory board to review on-going city projects, and developed their Complete Streets policy, the first of its kind in New York State. The Complete Streets policy works to ensure that when a roadway is constructed or repaired in the City of Buffalo, equal consideration is given to commuters of all kinds – including bicyclists, pedestrians, public transportation users, children, people pushing baby strollers and the disabled.
Buffalo is currently certified as a bronze-level bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. GObike Buffalo has launched a new campaign, the GOsilver campaign, in order for Buffalo to achieve silver-level bicycle friendly community by 2017. This would include installing 150 miles of bike lanes by 2017 and providing safe bike riding education to kids at 30 city schools and 100,000 adults.
Despite the work that GObike Buffalo is doing to take climate action and reduce the carbon footprint of transportation in the city of Buffalo, there are still a number of challenges faced when addressing a city’s needs in relation to the climate threat. One of difficulties of addressing our role in climate change, says Booth, is the number of people who still choose not to believe that there’s a problem.
“There’s a level of unknown [with climate change]. Worst case scenario, if we follow all the measures that would make our environment better, that would reduce our emissions, we’d have a healthier, more vibrant city, and society,” says Booth. “Even if we’re wrong, it will still do a world of good.”
To read more about the 2015 Congress or learn about other local innovators click here.