March 16, 2021

My 15 Minute City: Peter McCarthy Celebrates Buffalo via Bike

Our Peter McCarthy has authored a new piece for Common Edge on the city of Buffalo during the pandemic as part of the publication’s immersive 15 Minute City series.

in the piece, Peter documents how the pandemic afforded him unique opportunities to explore his home city by bike. The full photo essay is available online. Here is an excerpt and images from Peter’s piece:

Long before the pandemic, I fell in love with bicycling in Buffalo. Each spring, as soon as the cold abided and the snow melted, I’d spend as much time on my bike as possible. Most of my rides are for fitness, and over time I’d developed fairly habitual 15- and 22-mile routes. As the pandemic began to grip my city last March, I spent my time like most everyone: inside, working from home, waiting to learn more about the virus. It wasn’t until the weather warmed and we began to learn more about how wearing masks and being outdoors could slow the spread that I began to bike again. And while the first few rides were those same habitual loops, I soon realized the pandemic offered an opportunity for me to alter my routes in unique ways.

With the shut down in full effect, there were essentially no cars in downtown Buffalo. Suddenly, all of the roads and routes I’d never ridden along due to traffic and safety concerns were open for exploration. One of my first discoveries came when I realized I could now bike up and down empty parking garages at will. I started riding to the top of each one, calling them my urban hills. Each ramp provided a unique view of the city that I’d never appreciated before. It was incredible to take them all in, sun shining, then speed back down and continue exploring.

The rides were still about exercise, but I began to meander more intentionally. Some days I spent hours exploring my city from new vantage points, essentially unavailable to bikers when cities and their traffic patterns are fully alive. Buffalo has an amazing history that remains very much present in its neighborhoods, something pedaling through those streets helped me appreciate. The experience reminded me of when I lived in Japan for six months and did most of my travel on bike. In both cases, I realized how much more I learned about a city on a bike. Every trip to a destination becomes about the journey, the experience of the little things: an unnoticed corner of a public park, a new coffee shop, a random alley that makes you stop and snap a quick photo. I spent a great deal of the past year trying to notice those things as I biked through Buffalo.

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