In Sync’s short history, it’s always been a City-centric service, but bikeshare could make its biggest impact in the suburbs. That’s because Sync’s ebikes are particularly useful for travelling long distances, and—with a growing network of intermunicipal trails—they could remake the way people get around Onondaga County.
The Empire State Trail, Onondaga Creekwalk, and Loop the Lake Trail are three interconnected trail systems that pass through or near Onondaga County’s main job centers and its most highly populated neighborhoods. They are also the kind of high-quality, low-stress biking infrastructure where lots of people feel comfortable riding a bike, even if they’re not ‘avid cyclists.’ These trail systems could allow people the freedom to travel across the county by bike.
But it’s not entirely practical for many people to use these trails in this way for the simple reason that many people live very far away from the places they work or shop or go to school. Most people who already bike to work live within 2 miles of all the jobs Downtown and on University Hill because that’s about as far as a lot of people are willing to pedal to get to work. Even though a person living in Elmcrest could bike all the way Downtown almost entirely on separated bike trails, that’s a 10-mile trip with a couple of hills, and it’s too difficult and time-consuming on a regular road bike.
But Sync doesn’t use regular road bikes. Its ebikes contain motors that make it much easier and quicker to bike over long distances and steep hills. This ease and speed means that people will be able to travel much further by bike without getting tired and sweaty and without wasting too much time, and it will greatly expand the distance that people are willing to travel by bike.
This is why Sync should look to expand its service area along the Empire State and Loop the Lake Trails. These are areas where it can provide a new and competitive service that will reduce both traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions while also making more suburban jobs accessible to City residents. It is also why City Hall, Onondaga County, and New York State should continue to expand the trail system to connect more neighborhoods and employment centers across the metro area.
Taken together, the countywide system of interconnected trails and Sync’s ebikes have the potential to meaningfully change the way people get around Central New York. High-quality, low-stress biking infrastructure makes biking comfortable for people who are just getting used to it, and motorized ebikes make biking long distances easy even for casual riders. Taken together, the countywide system of interconnected trails and Sync’s ebikes have the potential to meaningfully change the way people get around Central New York.