2011 City Guide: Bike Trails

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If you don’t bike around Western New York, you should talk to a local bike enthusiast. You’d be surprised to learn that WNY, in spite of its snowy rep, is actually a great place to bike, providing riders of every skill level with a number of scenic trails. Maybe the coolest thing about traversing the region’s major trails—of which there are seven, according to the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council (www.gbnrtc.org)—is that a biker can literally take a ride through Queen City history. You can start with the new Outer Harbor Trail, the beautiful new greenway path that winds atop a former brownfield wasteland. Take the greenway south to Tifft Farm Nature Preserve, double back, cross at the Ohio Street drawbridge, and ride in the shadows of the grain elevators, those beautiful, rusty, monolithic reminders of our city’s heyday as a shipping giant.

From the Naval Park, you can take the Riverwalk Trail and follow the route of the Erie Canal, heading north to Black Rock—Buffalo’s first neighborhood—and then to Riverside, riding with the rushing Niagara before having to choose either the Riverview Trail to trek to the Falls and beyond to the escarpment, or the Erie Canal Trail, on which you will hum with the treeline along River Road, past Isle View Park, through downtown Tonawanda, and along the original canal route, all the way to the city of Lockport.

The Scajaquada route, the shortest of the major trails, originates at Hoyt Lake—the site of the Pan American Exposition and still the jewel of Delaware Park—and then dips below the Scajaquada Expressway, following the creek along a fun and speedy path that runs beside twisted fences and abandoned warehouses before depositing riders at Broderick Park. The other major options include the Ellicott Creek Trail, which connects UB’s Amherst Campus to the north towns, and the Clarence Trail, which runs all the way to Akron.

Even though the local biking community has to deal with long winters, careless and impatient motorists, and the complete absence of anything resembling bike lanes on the city’s busiest streets, the region’s major trails and all of their secondary routes—with their varied terrain and their spectacular views—make all of the inconveniences easier to endure. The Queen City could improve its bike-friendly quotient, but it’s still a great place to bike.

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