Buffalo United Front and Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative to Test E-bike Program
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
Shared Mobility Inc will provide 50 donated e-bikes equipped with pedal assist technology for community residents to try out or borrow this summer
BUFFALO & NIAGARA FALLS, NY - 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). 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.”
The program will utilize pedal assist e-bikes that provide a gentle boost which 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, or SMI, 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: 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, chief executive officer, 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.
"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," said City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino. "The City of Niagara Falls appreciates the opportunity to partner with Shared Mobility and Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative (CHNFC) 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 on Saturday June 19 from 10-1 at the Community Health Center of Niagara at 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 this Saturday, June 12, at 10 am, 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 hopes that 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Shared Mobility, Inc.
Shared Mobility Inc. (SMI) of Buffalo, New York operates Reddy Bikeshare and also serves as a transportation solutions nonprofit that focuses on cutting-edge technology and best practices to build mobility systems that serve disadvantaged communities in small and mid-sized markets. These communities are not traditional markets for shared mobility operators, and SMI’s work often requires tailoring mobility solutions to fit the needs of each area. Throughout its 12 years of experience, SMI has led efforts inthe fundraising, deployment, growth, and evaluation of shared transportation systems. This includes bikesharing, carsharing, volunteer transportation, vanpooling, and transportation demand management programs. It seeks to apply the same social-equity focused mindset to its nationwide portfolio of projects. For further information, visit www.sharedmobilty.org.
About Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative
The collaborative is organized into work groups that focus on specific areas of community improvement: Healthy Food Healthy People and Healthy Behaviors. These work groups engage community members in leadership training, community forums and special projects. The Healthy Food Healthy People work group in particular has undertaken a two-year effort to create a Local Food Action Plan for the city of Niagara Falls. The Collaborative is led by four Niagara Falls residents who currently serve as official co-chairs: Brian Archie, Keyona Dunn, Evelyn Harris, and Sarah Obot. They meet weekly and work tirelessly between those meetings (and their day jobs) to coordinate events, support work groups, and make sure residents’ voices are being heard and ideas are being implemented.
CHNFC is supported by a volunteer coach and mentor, Shelley Hirshberg. Shelley is a respected and experienced leader in non-profits, health care and community health in Western New York, and has been a part of the Collaborative from the beginning. The team couldn’t make things happen without the help of the Collaborative’s one full-time staff member, Krista Ehasz. Krista was selected from many applicants to help the Collaborative maintain momentum across all of its many projects.
About Buffalo United Front
(BUF) is located in the heart of Buffalo’s African American Community on the city’s East Side. BUF was founded in 2007 after another tragic summer that left the lives of many youths forever changed. The need for collaboration of front line organizations and individuals working to reduce youth violence in the City of Buffalo was readily apparent. As neighborhoods struggle to cope with the increasing losses of loved ones and years of disinvestment, the role of trained and knowledgeable community volunteers became critical to the mentoring and guidance of our next generation of children with a goal of violence prevention. BUF is made up of individual Community Organizations including 100 Mighty Men Ministries, Our Loving Arms, The Family, Girls Sports Foundation, Y2J Urban Youth Ministries, Teens in Progress, Friends of Broderick Park, Stop the Violence Coalition, WNY Anglers Association, East Side Sportsmen Club, FATHERS NOW Generation, ECMC Pastoral Care, and the East Side Bike Club and various Block Clubs. All of these organizations operate in different communities on Buffalo's East Side and all provide activities for youth education, engagement and mentorship. BUF provides a unifying presence to coordinate logistics, provide administrative support, and any community need. Learn more here.
About Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds were established at the Community Foundation to provide support to four areas that were important to Mr. Wilson: caregivers, community assets, design and access, and youth sports. Endowment funds, like these created to honor Mr. Wilson, are designed to grow over time and provide funding for charitable causes according to a client’s wishes.