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Niagara Falls offers more than the Cataract. So won't you stay another day?

The mist of Niagara Falls can be seen behind a bridge over the Niagara River.
Mike Desmond

Niagara Falls is in the tourism business and has been for a very long time, back to the days of railroad trains thundering in. It still is, and Amtrak still arrives, although most traffic today is by car.

What tourism officials are always trying to improve that long quest to persuade people to stay long, ride bicycles, visit the Wine Trail and visit the Flight of Five in nearby Lockport.

On Monday, another piece of that puzzle was released: "Bike There, Niagara," five self-guided bike tours on the expanding network of bike paths in the region.

Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Executive Director Sara Capen said a goal is helping locals and visitors understand the region.

“If sometimes that we have forgotten who we are and the tremendous history that we have in our backyard," Capen said. "And so, through that work that I just described, we can reconnect with who we are, what built this place, the type of people who traveled here. In this very location, Harriet Tubman crossed this bridge to get to freedom.”

Officials stand around a brown wood podium with a map and shuttle bus in the background.
Mike Desmond
Officials hope tourists will stay longer and learn more about Niagara Falls with the new bike paths and shuttle buses.

Rep. Brian Higgins has been a strong supporter of the Heritage Area group and its plans, and has legislation in the hopper to extend its life another 15 years and continue federal dollars coming in.

“The success of the Discover Niagara Shuttle, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, the Niagara Falls Mural Project and the Discover Niagara app, we are thrilled to add the new Bike There, Niagara guide to that list, which just adds critical mass of projects and designations that will be helpful in drawing more people,” Higgins said.

On Sunday, Assemblymember Angelo Morinello had a chance to spend time with his 4- and 7-year-old grandchildren and see how the free shuttle works.

“We did the shuttle. We took the shuttle from my place in Niagara Falls," Morinello said. "We went down to Youngstown, got off, went over to the Ontario House, had lunch, took a walk along the river and then drove back. It was a delightful afternoon. But what was important was there were individuals getting off and on, going areas that they would have never seen before.”

Morinello said his office checked the shuttles for several years before the pandemic and found businesses seeing customers getting off the buses and spending money.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.