The Bike Friendly New York program has certified over 150 businesses since 2017. These accommodations, retail stores, restaurants, and other establishments are no strangers to adapting to welcome their customers. These businesses help enhance the cycling experience and promote self-propelled travel, especially during the summer months when the canal corridor is especially busy.
However, this has been an unimaginable summer for everyone, including businesses that normally happily open their doors to two-wheeled travelers. While outdoor recreation and bicycling has been extraordinarily popular for mental and physical health (and for many, just a way to get out the house), certified Bike Friendly establishments have not been able to greet them as gladly as they would like to. As more bicyclists become active, establishments along the Erie Canalway Trail have not been able to embrace this increased use.
Luckily, Bike Friendly businesses have thought of creative ways to comply with state regulations and have implemented safety precautions. The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens in Buffalo reopened in mid-July but, with a thorough sanitation plan in mind. With staff and visitor safety in mind, they have installed touchless sanitizing dispensers and signage. For cyclists, they offer an identified bike parking area and are committed to becoming more accessible for everyone. Both locations of The Downtown Browsery in Albion and Medina have implemented new ‘sidewalk sales’ where patrons can safely shop outdoors. Both locations are very close to the trail, making it even easier for bicyclists to bring their new finds home with them. The RailYard Taproom & Taproom in Whitehall has decided to welcome their hungry guests again. They, however, ask that customers are patient with their staff during this time and wear a mask when they are not sitting at a table. Although they are only open for in-restaurant service with a 50% capacity, they continue to serve cyclists better by offering public charging stations for electronics.
The Bike Friendly New York program is continuing to accept new applications. Becoming certified helps you get recognized by the constantly growing market of outdoor recreation tourism. It also creates a better experience for Canalway Trail users who tell their family and friends about all the great times they had stopping at the establishments during their travels. Everyone wins! Interested businesses are encouraged to visit ptny.org/cycle-the-erie-canal/bikefriendly for a full list of requirements and to apply.
Thank you to our ‘essential’ Bike Friendly New York businesses and their, in many ways, essential employees. You have made these unprecedented times better. We can all do our best to honor these establishments by shopping, eating, and drinking locally. Please remember to protect yourself to protect the hardworking employees that continue to keep our bellies full and our wheels turning.