This coming Saturday, May 11th, marks Slow Roll Buffalo’s first Saturday Bike Stampede of the year, as we return to Niagara Falls for a free and inclusive 10-mile ride hosted by the new African Heritage Food Co-op (2616 Highland Avenue, 2pm start), preceded by a public input session as part of GObike Buffalo’s work on the first Niagara Falls Bike Master Plan.  

Presented by Independent Health, our weekend rides are usually slightly faster and longer than Slow Roll Mondays; also self-supported, meaning without a trailing mechanic crew or a police motorcade.

With the removal of the Niagara Scenic Parkway allowing additional greenway paths in Niagara Falls, the development of a Bicycle Master Plan for the city and the launch of Reddy Bikeshare there later this year, this ride and public input session will highlight the all of the great progress underway in our neighboring city.

To learn more about the process of creating a Bike Master Plan for Niagara Falls, we spoke with GObike’s Director of Bicycle Master Planning Anthony Armstrong.

What inspired officials in Niagara Falls to create a Bicycle Master Plan?

Niagara Falls has been working for many years to create a healthier, more livable community for all of its residents – and visitors, too. This planning process follows a comprehensive city plan, and a city parks plan that helped create a shared vision for the future. We’ve heard many people in the city and in the neighborhoods who share GObike’s belief that cycling helps create a thriving, dynamic and connected city, with positive impacts on health, the environment, the streets and the overall quality of life for all residents.   

How did you begin the process?

The process in Niagara Falls actually began a couple of years ago with local schools – with on-the-ground projects like crosswalks along with education and awareness about cycling and pedestrians. The City also passed a complete streets policy, and eventually worked with GObike to secure a grant from The Verizon Media Community Fund in partnership with Empire State Development and the Community Foundation. We started the plan by talking to people who know the city best – stakeholders in city hall, local non-profits, and especially in communities. That is the start of the process and an important piece in every step – or pedal – along the way.

What have been the biggest challenges to doing this right?

Doing this right means making sure we’re living into what the community has told us they want to see. How do we build a bicycle network that works for everyone: families, commuters and visitors? How do we improve health, accessibility and create community; spur economic opportunity and inclusion; and create connections between people, local assets, and the broader region? We also need to ensure that everyone can access what will be a great new and improved greenway along the river. No small tasks, but it’s something we’re really excited about!

How can people get involved?

Coming out to the Bike Stampede and letting us know what you want to see in Niagara Falls is a great start! You can also visit gobikeniagara.org for on online survey and mapping to give us additional input. We’ll have a few more neighborhood meetings coming up so check the calendar for those, and we’ll be doing a youth survey as well. Most importantly – keep riding!