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(Images courtesy of Insight International USA)
(Images courtesy of Insight International USA)

Buffalo United Front, Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative to test e-bike program in Buffalo & Niagara Falls

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Fri, Jun 11th 2021 11:55 am

Shared Mobility Inc. will provide 50 donated e-bikes equipped with pedal assist technology for community residents to try out or borrow this summer 

Shared Mobility Inc. (SMI), a Western New York nonprofit organization, will serve as operator to the region’s first e-bike library program, free to eligible participants interested in testing a new and innovative programming model. The E-Bike Library Project is a collaboration of partners, funders and residents to establish “e-bike libraries” through a community-led approach spearheaded by the Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative (CHNFC) and East Side Bike Club, a program of Buffalo United Front (BUF).

A press release stated, “The program’s implementation will be based on how the community sees fit to build more equitable, healthy and sustainable neighborhoods.” 

“E-bikes can have a great impact on health equity in our region by making cycling more appealing to wider audiences of varying age and skill level,” said Brian Archie, community integrator with the CHNFC. “We’re glad to work with Shared Mobility Inc. to test for the best ways to help bridge gaps in transportation and health equity in Niagara Falls, especially among Black and brown communities.”

It was explained, “The program will utilize pedal assist e-bikes that provide a gentle boost that works with the rider’s momentum as they pedal. This assist maximizes a rider’s endurance to travel farther than they would on a regular bike.”

Archie continued, “The pedal assist is a remarkable technology that can help ease someone into riding at their own pace.” 

Shared Mobility procured a donation of used e-bikes in 2020, which became the catalyst for the E-Bike Library Project. Since last summer, SMI coordinated the receival of the e-bikes, assigned a team dedicated to prepping and operating the e-bikes, as well as secured funding to make this project a possibility. The project’s funders include Ralph C. Wilson Jr. legacy funds administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo 

Better Bike Share Partnership is a collaboration funded by The JPB Foundation to increase access to and use of shared micromobility systems in low-income and BIPOC communities. The partners include The City of Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation

“This project will combine our knowledge and expertise in mobility program startups with the experience of local community leaders and the needs of the people they serve,” said Mike Galligano, CEO of Shared Mobility Inc. “It has the potential to be transformative for communities that currently lack equitable mobility options.”

The project will officially launch this summer. Until then, the project's partners are planning logistics as well as recruiting local ambassadors to support outreach and engagement efforts. The E-Bike Library Project aims to support current community programs in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and to obtain participant feedback on the use of the e-bikes. 

“In terms of uplifting our neighborhoods and in providing a healthy, fun transportation option – particularly for our weekly group rides – e-bikes have potential to really impact and connect the community this summer and beyond,” said George Johnson, founder of Buffalo United Front. 

City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said, "We know that our residents and visitors enjoy spending time outside. We saw this last summer, particularly with the pandemic, and the need for bikes across the country dramatically increased creating bike shortages. The City of Niagara Falls appreciates the opportunity to partner with Shared Mobility and Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative to offer this e-bike experience. Pairing this innovative program with the other mobile opportunities that are already available within the city allows users multiple ways to get around, exercise, and enjoy the summer. The City of Niagara Falls is pleased to continue to lead with this new mobile programming and we look forward to the success of this fun and exciting project.”

Residents of Niagara Falls are encouraged to attend a men’s health Father’s Day event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 19, at the Community Health Center of Niagara, 2715 Highland Ave. Residents can receive a demonstration, try out an e-bike, and provide feedback in a survey. An opportunity to do so in Buffalo will take place at East Side Bike’s Club’s weekly group ride starting from Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 12, and again at Broderick Park on June 26-27 for BUF’s Family Fishing Day Weekend. Instructions on how to participate in the program will be released in the next month.

While this year’s program is slated to only last a few months, according to Galligano, SMI’s vision is to establish a broader shared e-bike program in the years to come with the support of additional partners. SMI said it hopes this program will build upon the popularity of its Reddy Bikeshare program in partnership with Independent Health, and to expand the community of cyclists in WNY. 

According to SMI’s E-Bike Library Project planner, Tyler Madell, this is something completely new and never been done anywhere before: “The CHNFC and East Bike Bike Club are truly pioneers because this project will help inform similar initiatives in Los Angeles in which SMI is supporting. This is a chance to learn and share best practices of e-bike libraries with Western New York paving the way.”

For more information on e-bike technology and the concept of “e-bike libraries,'' visit sharedmobility.org or email [email protected]. For more details on the community aspect of the E-Bike Library Project, community members of Buffalo’s East Side can contact Johnson for more details at 716-818-3410. Niagara Falls residents can contact Archie at [email protected].

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