Five Weeks of Buffalo

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Why do people keep calling us minimalists? Maybe *I* am, but those other five are clearly not.
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LtoR: Oliver, Elliot, Avery, Brent, Eiki, London. Welcome to Buffalo.

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We sold our only vehicle the weekend before we left West Virginia. It was a financial decision, but none less one we knew we can handle after two years of choosing to ride our bicycles and making efforts to live more locally. My dad came down from Ohio to help us with the move, so we packed five of us in his two door Civic and two rode in the cab of the moving truck with the crated cats. The short story goes like this….the children and I arrived, then a couple days later the truck, my dad, Brent and the cats arrived. The same afternoon we were unloading the truck, we picked up our Japanese exchange student, Eiki. We spent a few days unpacking, then we started to slowly get out and explore.

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Biked to the car share. We took the train home after returning the van.
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We were invited to pick blueberries.
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Pedestrian/cycling ramps that bridge over the highway.
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All day bus/train passes.
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A single line subway/train from our neighborhood to downtown.

We have, since that day, used the car share a few times, taken a day to go downtown on the train and buses, spent a full day going downtown on bikes, and have managed trips to the zoo, science museum, grocery, bike shops and workshops, parks, schools, farmers markets, food coop, suburban shopping plaza, tool library, bookstores, and Brent’s office, all with our bicycles. The weather has been amazing. The rental house is serving us well. The distances aren’t ideal, although manageable. The terrain is mostly level with inclines here and there, that still have me yearning for an e-assist. Diversity of language, race, religion, age, and income is plentiful. Many things cost more and taxes are higher. C’est la vie.

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Science museum. Meandered 7miles to get there and 5miles to get home.
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1 of 4 neighborhood grocery stores within a mile.
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Back to school picnic day. We were the only cyclist, and have been the only cyclists, however, there is a small bike rack. That’s something.
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Children’s area at the Elmwood Arts Festival.
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Our first dinner out, a tourist destination five blocks away from home.
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Avery’s new yoga studio, 7minute bike ride through the ‘hood.
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GOBike racks are offered up for free if you own a business. They even install. These were at the entrance to the zoo. We took the last spot and filled it up with five bikes for 8 people.
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Canalside harbor and locks area has ships, markets, festivals, monuments, music and more. It’s also clear on the otherside of town. We took the train this day, but it would likely be an 8 mile ride, if I ever get up to doing it.
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Allentown “bubble window.”
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GOBike workshop in an old station building, 2miles from home! Used parts, free help, bikey people. Although we were still “outsiders.” Cargo bikes are not common. Our two Yubas make the total Yuba population a whopping 3 in the city. I have seen one Xtracycle and a couple tandems. We have yet to see any cycling families outside the park/recreation trail.

I haven’t been tracking expenses as closely this past year, but I did start tracking transportation costs after selling the van. Since our arrival, we spent $98.50 in August, not including Eiki’s personal transportation, for which he is responsible, and $126.00 thus far into September. We have been using the bus and train more often this month (and I have sometimes been overpaying when I am not paying attention), and we had one taxi ride ($30). I suppose that number could be about $50 more if you include the new locks we bought for the bikes. I should think about how I want to track these numbers.

Enrolling the children in school was a saga, for which I have a lot a confidence will bring about a positive and rewarding outcome. Or so I keep telling myself. Eiki will be going to private school 10 miles south of our home, but using bikes and public transit (passes provided by the school). The school was arranged before his arrival. He has already been selected for the varsity soccer team and utilizes this combo of travel almost daily for practices. We had no shortage of bicycles for his use. Oliver will be staying home another year, and the boys are going to a public preK-4 school about 2 miles from home. We biked to school for about a week, then the weather got a little wet and we let them ride the bus. London was accepted into a gift and talented public high school that serves 5-12th grades after a week of delays and “navigation” of the system. The school is 2.5-3.5 miles from home depending on how you want to get there. We test rode it and were not pleased, so she’s likely taking the big yellow school bus most days until we find a route we feel is safer.

As moves go, this one has been uneventful. There are still a lot of boxes in the children’s room to unpack. I am waiting to put together their shelving.  There is a stack of art in the sunroom, where we set up our office, and a stack in the garage.  I am forward with people walking down our street, introducing ourselves as new and asking too many questions, seeking opinions and ideas. It seems we have joined every business and organization that has a membership as some effort to get to know the neighborhood and save some money on entertainment. It was less expensive to pay $60 for science museum memberships than to visit twice with seven people. The tool library was a $10 annual fee, but we would have spent significantly more on a cultivator, grass shears and an electric voltage meter. Going there to check out rubber mallets and crow bars has been better than finding a toy store for the children. Interestingly, we haven’t joined GOBike Buffalo yet. We need to. They have a workshop close by and they have bike lockers at the nearest train station.

Although we haven’t found any bicycling families yet, we hear lore of them being in other downtown neighborhoods. It’s just a matter of time. And when I do find them, I think it will be time for Buffalo to have a Kidical Mass.

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3 thoughts on “Five Weeks of Buffalo”

  1. I am from Alfred, NY, not that far from Buffalo! I love upstate NY (although all the pretty hills are a bit more inland, I’m afraid.) Must have missed the purchase of the 2nd Yuba (both identical and orange?)

    I am the reader who asked about Yuba accessories. In March, I bought a Yuba Boda Boda. Just ordered the basket for it today since they *finally* include a liner with the basket (don’t worry, they raised the price too.) I only have one Baguette, which I really like, and the double kickstand that I mysteriously got for free (although it really annoys me that the front wheel goes off the ground when you use the kickstand– why don’t they just make them a little bit shorter?) So am excited to add a sturdier basket (an old, semi-broken one is on there now.)

    I totally love it and ride it to campus every day it doesn’t rain. Have also taken for a ride my fiancé many times (he drives it too!), a coworker, a totally famous guest speaker, and a new friend.

    1. We acquired the second bike about a year ago? Maybe. I have lost track of all time. And yes, identical! It wasn’t planned, it was what was available from a friend.

      I am thrilled you got the Boda Boda! Sounds like you are using it to its potential. The double kickstands are designed to pivot the weight of the bike so you don’t roll your bike right off the stand if both wheels were down. It’s a safety feature. It also helps when parked on hills. It is strange at first, but a great thing as you get used to it. There is the little stabilizer you can attach to the front wheel and frame to hold it centered. I think Yuba calls it a deflopilator?

      Enjoy the ride!

      1. Yeah, I love the Boda Boda (and get lots of comments!) The Bread Basket is kind of ginormous and makes using old-fashioned racks difficult since you can’t get the wheel in there as well, but I don’t like those racks anyway. A bonus to having the Bread Basket is that the brake cords rub slightly on the basket, thus preventing the floppy wheel problem. So far, so good except that my front brake just started squeaking for no reason…

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