Bicycle enthusiasts weren’t just spinning their wheels Friday morning.
About 60 of them wheeled their way to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where many of them are employees, to participate in “National Bike to Work Day” and support efforts to make the city more accommodating to bicyclists.
“There’s a big need for a bicycle friendly community. We’re way behind cities of comparable size,” said bicyclist Jim Costello of Lancaster Avenue.
Other cities, according to Justin Booth, executive director of GObike Buffalo, have hundreds of miles of bike lanes, while Buffalo has about 30 miles.
“In the last few years, New York City has created 300 miles of bike lanes,” Booth said, adding that Mayor Byron W. Brown has committed to designating 10 miles annually of new bike lanes on public roadways.
Among the big wheels in attendance were the mayor and Dr. Michael Cropp, chief executive officer of Independent Health and the founding chairman of GObike’s board of directors.
Cropp bicycles 100 miles a week even in the warmer weather.
Bicycling, he said, has multiple benefits.
By living a healthier lifestyle from the exercise biking provides, he explained, dollars spent on health care can be redirected to economic development.
“The track record shows that cities that embrace bicycling, like Portland, Ore., in and of itself generate economic development,” Cropp said.
But for a culture of bicycling to succeed, he added, a mindset of safety needs to exist.
“Bicyclists need to be respectful of the traffic laws as much as motorists,” he said.
Jamie Hamann-Burney regularly bikes a mile and a half to work at the medical campus, which sponsored the event.
Hamann-Burney said efforts have started there to create “a sustainable, transportation model that focuses on healthier, greener and more economical ways” of getting around.