The residents of Buffalo have managed to make the best of the chilling winter by riding ice bikes.
Ice bikes were an instant hit with Buffalo, New York residents when they glided onto the ice at Canalside the day the new skating rink opened on the city’s waterfront late last year. Since that December day, locals have braved the bone-chilling weather to rent an ice bike for fun and exercise. Devotees of the ice bike even managed to convince the inventor of the two-wheeled wonder, Lisa Florczak, that she created something truly unique and marketable.
Ms. Florczak has been inundated with inquiries from several other cold-weather cities in Wyoming, Michigan, and Minnesota. Evidently smitten by social benefits and commercial potential of the ice bike, a Canadian organization expressed interest in deploying these eco-friendly commuters next year when the winter starts. Still astonished by the sudden success, Ms. Florczak said, “I had no idea if this would work or how people would respond. I thought I might end up being the laughingstock of the city.”
Interestingly, apart from their utilitarian purpose, ice bikes are being used for other purposes as well; the most notable being exercise. Apparently, those suffering from Parkinson’s disease have been extolling the virtues of the human powered vehicle. Since they are well balanced, there’s virtually no chance of the rider falling off, and that’s another powerful factor making everyone interested in the ice bike.
Buffalo had been trying hard to revitalize its waterfront and draw people year-round. However, come winter, the breeze on Lake Erie is rather difficult to bear, and except for the dedicated winter sport enthusiasts who enjoy ice skating, the waterfront is not a popular destination in the freezing cold.
Now, the ice bike offers an enjoyable recreational activity for those who cannot skate. Moreover, Lisa Florczak’s invention is helping to bring back tourists and regulars to the lakefront. There, they can try out the ice while snacking on warm nuts, hot cocoa and craft beer sold at nearby kiosks. Best of all, ice bike users can enjoy the outdoors without the fear of landing hard on their behinds while trying to skate.
Earlier, Florczak’s family business, Water Bikes of Buffalo, was renting pontoon bikes that let riders pedal the Buffalo River in warmer months. At the same time, economic development officials appealed to the residents for ideas for the 33,000-square-foot ice rink being built nearby on a modern restoration of the famous old Erie Canal.
Seizing the opportunity, Florczak bought a bike off the rack at Wal-Mart and worked with General Welding and Fabricating in Elma on a design. What she ended up designing was a sturdy and mobile contraption that would never tip and would happily co-exist with ice skaters.
The sleek ice bike is quite fast and riders brake by pedaling backward. Be sure to give one a try the next time you visit Buffalo in the winter.
[Image Credit | JVL Photography, WGRZ]