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Ice Bikes of Buffalo Kick Into High Gear - Made-in-Buffalo Ice Bicycles Receive National Attention

© by Mike Keenan

This waterfront city already famous for creating chicken wings has a new claim to fame: ice bikes. Ice Bikes of Buffalo have received national attention since their debut on Buffalo's resurgent waterfront in December. The bikes have a stainless steel frame with blades that allow riders to seamlessly glide and steer as they pedal on Buffalo's newest waterfront attraction, the 33,000 square foot Ice @ Canalside, one of the largest outdoor rinks in New York State.

Inventor Lisa Florczak said she believes she is the first entrepreneur in North America to rent out ice bicycles in a public space. The bikes have been a huge hit, with passengers of all ages, from 8 to over 80, giving them a try.

The Florczak family owns and operates another rental business, Water Bikes of Buffalo, which allows outdoor recreation enthusiasts to pedal up the Buffalo River and onto Lake Erie in warmer months. When officials at Buffalo's waterfront development agency came looking for fun activities for their new rink last fall, Florczak jumped at the chance.

Wanting to transition from water bikes to a frozen activity, Florczak said that an ice bicycle was a natural fit. She bought a bike at a local store, brought it in to a Buffalo-based welding firm, and told the company her idea. General Welding and Fabricating successfully designed the bike on the first try, and test runs indicated the ride was safe, sturdy and ready to go. Thousands have rode the ice bikes since they debuted on December 18; waiting lists are a common site.

Florczak said she has received interest from several other cities in Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota and Canada for next winter. The bikes were also featured in a recent New York Times travel story about Buffalo's winter waterfront renaissance.

"It's been an incredible ride so far," Florczak said. "The response we’ve received since these debuted has been phenomenal."

The Ice @ Canalside is built on a historic recreation of the Erie Canal, which flowed through downtown Buffalo and emptied into Lake Erie upon its completion in 1825. The rink is part of over $300 million in new development on Buffalo's waterfront, the focal point of a transformational renaissance. Florczak said she is thrilled that ice bikes have become a part of Buffalo's story of reinvention and rebirth.

"To know that this little invention has somehow boosted part of that resurgence is surreal. It's beyond words what it means to me," Florczak said. "I'm very grateful, proud and full of anticipation of what the future is going to bring. When like-minded people get together and pull in the same direction, really spectacular things can happen."

 

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Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune, Niagara Falls Review and Seniors Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.

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