The American Society of Civil Engineers grades the condition and performance of America’s transportation infrastructure as a ‘D’ or worse. Our roads and bridges are crumbling; Over 35,000 people are killed on our highways every year; Our transit systems are unable to keep up with demand. And the U.S. lags behind the rest of the developed world in infrastructure investment.
This week Reconnect Rochester hosted a screening of Be Prepared To Stop, a documentary film that talks about these challenges from the perspective of the freight transportation industry. We asked a panel of local experts in infrastructure policy and sustainability for their views on what America needs to do to put ourselves on the road to sustainability.
Watch the trailer and panel discussion below…
Senior VP for Television & News
WXXI Public Broadcasting
Senior Sustainability Advisor
Rochester Institute of Technology
Principal & Office Leader
Director of Planning (eastern U.S.)
T.Y. Lin International
Genesee Transportation Council
Guest essay submitted by: Evan Lowenstein, Reconnect Rochester Member and Assistant Market Supervisor for Communications and Special Events/Projects, City of Rochester Public Market…
The City of Rochester Public Market is an endearing, fascinating example of the many things planners value and work for: successful public places and spaces; sense of place; mixed use; real and working diversity; pedestrian-focused; linkage of city, suburbs, and rural areas; supportive of the local economy.
While the Market has made strides in multi-modal transportation access by creating a pedestrian, bicycle, and transit-friendly Market, there is a lot of work to do. The Market can and should be a true leader in moving the community forward in its transportation mindsets and methods.
If you’ve recently made a contribution to Reconnect Rochester thank you for reaffirming your commitment to our mission. But even if you haven’t contributed dollars, we want to take a moment to thank you for all you’ve given this year in other ways.
Maybe you’ve given to one of our programs or another similar cause. Maybe you tried riding your bike or taking the bus to work for the first time and encouraged your friends to try it too. We know many of you have helped to educate others by writing, making phone calls, speaking out publicly and even running for public office. And some of you right now are leading efforts to improve people’s lives by serving from a position within local government or at RGRTA.
We thank YOU!
Now is the perfect time of year to take pause and recognize our collective efforts (large and small) because frankly, the results have been nothing shy of astounding. And imagine, we still have next year to do even more!
Fighting for our community through countless advocacy actions including: Traveling to Albany on Transit Awareness Day to help make a compelling case for local transportation funding; Rallying support for traffic calming measures (most recently on East Avenue); continuing to promote the Pace Car driver pledge program; Pushing for lower speed limits in City neighborhoods; Opposing Federal cuts to public transportation; AND lending support and input into local planning initiatives like Rochester’s Comprehensive Access & Mobility Plan, Climate Action Plan, Mobility & Enhancement Study, and the Shared Mobility Program. We also love engaging with the public EVERY DAY via live events, speaking opportunities, media interviews, social media and our blog… but that’s already like 11 things right there, so moving on…
Helping voters stay on top of the races for Rochester Mayor and City Council with our Transportation & Mobility Questionnaire which invited the candidates to communicate their position & understanding of mobility issues.
The loooong awaited opening of Rochester’s new train station which we celebrated with a “behind the scenes” tour guided by representatives from Amtrak and hosted by our Rail Transit Workgroup.
Our volunteers who built and placed 20 new Bus Stop “Cube” seats in and around Corn Hill, Union Street, Saint Paul Street and Monroe Avenue. Since 2016 we’ve more than doubled the number of cubes out there to give bus riders a respectable place to sit at 34 bus stops. And with plans underway for a permanent fiberglass cube, we’re also within reach of a year-round solution.
Our Rochester Street Films which drew hundreds of people to The Little Theatre for inspiration and thought-provoking discussion on a broad range of topics including the relationship between transportation and poverty, getting around with a disability, “car culture”, sustainability and community design. These films will continue to inspire people online and at future neighborhood gatherings.
Our Complete Streets Workgroup team who participated in the planning of a Traffic Safety Public Education Campaign convened by Common Ground Health. Watch for the campaign in 2018!
The wild success of Rochester’s new bike share system and our partners at Zagster and the City of Rochester. And all of YOU who helped us raise over $18,000 to sponsor bike share stations in less affluent neighborhoods (on Hudson Avenue in Upper Falls and Adams Street in Corn Hill). We’re gearing up to do it again in 2018!
The launch of our Transportation & Poverty initiative to place focus on transportation as a key barrier for people living in poverty and to inform community action. We produced a 30 minute documentary film on the subject and recently commissioned an in-depth report by Center for Governmental Research which will feed into the Rochester and Monroe County Anti-Poverty Initiative. Look for that in early 2018.
And the #1 thing
we’re most proud of in 2017…
Helping our community to Reimagine RTS!
We don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that this may be a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to reposition our public transit system for a very bright future. If you haven’t already, we invite you to read our suggestions for a better transit system compiled by our Bus Innovation Workgroup. Reconnect Rochester is one of many groups serving on the project’s Community Advisory Committee and we’d like to remind you to share YOUR input on this important project. If you missed the public input session we co-hosted, there is still time for you to take the Reimagine RTS Survey.
But most of all,
we’re proud to be partners with YOU and all of our new members this year.
The Trump Administration has released its full fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget proposal and it includes significant cuts to public transportation including…
- Eliminating Federal funding for all 15 long-distance passenger rail routes, including the Lake Shore Limited that stops here in Rochester each day
- Eliminating the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program (New Starts) that helps cities of all sizes build new transit lines
- Eliminating the competitive TIGER grant program which has helped fund previously unattainable local projects such as Rochester’s new Amtrak station
Transportation professionals and advocates around the country are sounding the alarm…
For Rochester Street Films this year we asked local filmmakers and ordinary citizens to share their perspective on what it’s like to get around Rochester without a car. No rules; No restrictions; No filter.
Nate Butler grew up around cars. Learning to work on them with his dad as a kid, he just figured that cars were the only way to get around. Now a student at R.I.T., Nate has taken up cross-country running and he’s learning something new about his community with every step…
We’d like to ask for your help getting these films in front of as many people as we can. If you would like to host a mini screening of Rochester Street Films in your neighborhood, please
We are all very busy. Our days are filled with places we need to go, people we need to see, things we need to do. Almost like a movie, we bounce between different scenes of our daily lives. But unlike a movie, we can’t simply edit out all of the time in between those scenes. We don’t think much about our time in transit. But the way we use that time may say a lot about who we are.
Are you the type of person who takes time to enjoy the journey? Or is the journey something you’d rather fast forward through?
What if you could bring a film crew with you on your commute to work? What if a camera man followed you on a trip to the grocery store, or to pick up your kids at school? What might we learn by watching that movie? Would it be something you’d want to share with your friends on Facebook? Or would it make better material for an upsetting Michael Moore documentary?
That was the idea behind the latest installment of Rochester Street Films. We asked local filmmakers and ordinary citizens to share their perspective on what it’s like to get around Rochester without a car. No rules; No restrictions; No filter.
Last night 200+ people gathered at The Little Theatre for the kickoff of Rochester Street Films 2017 season. Over the next few weeks we’ll share those films with you here.
And we’d like to ask for your help getting these films in front of as many people as we can. If you would like to host a mini screening of Rochester Street Films in your neighborhood, please
Guest essay submitted by: Ericka Jones, Systems Advocate at Center for Disability Rights…
Imagine you found out Uber was coming to your town. The typical response is to be really excited and relieved that a lower cost and convenient ride service was coming to your area. You no longer have to deal with the stress of how you will get to work on time or if a ride is even available!
Posted by: Mike Governale
Greetings. I’m Mike Governale, founder of Reconnect Rochester. I’m a graphic designer, originally from the NYC area and I now live in Rochester, NY. I have a deep fascination and love of cities – how they are formed over time and the way they continue to evolve.
Dense urban places have proven themselves, over tens of thousands of years, to be arguably the most sustainable form of human habitation. But over the past 70 years many cities—especially those in the U.S.—have lost this edge.
I write a blog, RochesterSubway.com , that explores Rochester, “America’s first boom-town,” and how it suburbanized itself to near extinction. The site looks at the amazing physical and social history of this place. And what it needs to do before it can become urban, sustainable, and relevant, once again.
Last November I gave a talk at TEDxRochester. The talk focuses on how our transportation choices impact land use, and ultimately the health and sustainability of our community. I think the presentation serves as a good introduction to who I am and why Reconnect Rochester is so important to me…
Earlier this year, Reconnect Rochester teamed up with Tri-State Transportation Campaign and other transportation advocacy groups from around New York state in an effort to mobilize support for, and urge Governor Cuomo to sign New York’s first Complete Streets law. Thousands of you and other New Yorkers signed petitions and wrote and called your representatives. It made all the difference, helping to get this issue onto the agendas of elected officials and making sure it passed during a busy legislative session.
Earlier this week Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill that will make streets safer for everyone. The law will ensure that major road projects take into account the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and people of all ages and abilities.
Whether young or old; on foot, in a wheelchair, on a bike, or in a car, everyone is safer when roads are designed so everyone can use them. Roads designed according to complete streets principles are safer and encourage walking and cycling, leading to healthier neighborhoods and better quality of life. This is an extremely important reform that will save lives.
Thank YOU for helping to win positive change!
Yesterday morning House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman John Mica unveiled his proposal [PDF, 3.6mb] for t-bill authorization, which amounts to a 33-35% cut to federal transportation spending. Below is a quick thumbnail sketch of his proposal, responses/reactions from other lawmakers & advocacy groups, and three things YOU can do to help stop this train wreck…
Project Selections Will Expand Obama Administration’s Livability Initiative Agenda, Fuel Economic Recovery for Local Communities
A $293 million investment announced today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood means that residents in dozens of communities nationwide will soon enjoy major transit improvements, including new streetcars, buses, and transit facilities.
The nearly $300 million investment is part of the Obama Administration’s livability initiative to better coordinate transportation, housing and commercial development investments to serve the people living in those communities. It is being made through two competitive grant programs, the Urban Circulator Grant Program and the Bus and Bus Livability Grant Program.
*Cross Posted by the Moderate Urban Champion
Members of Reconnect Rochester had a unique opportunity Monday afternoon. We were invited to sit in and participate in a roundtable discussion featuring representation of the Genesee Transportation Council, the Empire State Passengers Association, the Rochester Rail Transit Committee, and the keynote speaker of that evening’s lecture, John Robert Smith.
Not all of the biggest statements came from Smith himself, but his insight into federal agencies and funding acquisition from said agencies was very valuable to our coalition. Also heartening was the recognition by all parties of potential energy realities. This acceptance set the imperative tone regarding the necessity for improved transit in the region.
Smith’s greatest criticism, one that was repeated during the public lecture, was a lack of obvious attraction marketing, and the associated transportation options, to downtown hotel guests and travelers who arrive by train. The implication is that we aren’t successfully steering travelers with money to spend to restaurants and other cultural amenities. A set of newer signage as part of an enhanced wayfinder system was installed recently, but it is proving to be geared toward motorized tourist travel.
Rochester’s dazzling urbanites, development gurus, transit afficionados, preservation honchos, political luminaries, and architectural stewards are all very pleased that the Rochester Regional Community Design Center’s final lecture of the 2009-2010 season brings John Robert Smith to the Memorial Art Gallery on May 10th at 7PM. This enthuasism will surely spread like wildfire once the community at large understands what a tremendous impact this man has had in the realms of community revitalization and improving housing and mobility choices for citizens in communities with situations similar to Rochester.
The future of this or any community hinges on the following concepts, all of which are likely to be discussed at the speech and reception:
If you were at the Circulator Study Public Meeting tonight, THANK YOU! Turn out was good. It could’ve been even better… but there were plenty of people there asking questions and giving input and the room had a constant buzz. Even the media thought enough to make an appearance. There will be another public meeting in June/July to share the preliminary findings of the study so stay tuned and continue to share this story with friends and neighbors. We’ll need even more of you at the next meeting.
The City has partnered with C&S Companies to analyze and make recommendations to enhance commuting, circulation, and parking in Downtown Rochester. Among the potential enhancements under consideration is a circulator transit service—a.k.a shuttle buses or streetcars. Listen carefully Rochester…
The following article was published at RochesterSubway.com on 2010/02/16. Two weeks later 6 citizens got together and Reconnect Rocheseter was born.
America seems to have taken a renewed interest in mobility. Maybe due to President Obama’s recent commitment to high speed rail—or perhaps the positive results seen in towns like Portland and Denver have caught our collective attention. Whatever the reason, from the top down, people are rethinking our automobile-oriented culture—and getting excited about the possibilities.
There’s also good reason to focus on transportation as a way of jump-starting economic development. Industry requires access to people. And people need to have easy access to centers of employment. Continually improving access makes further development possible. Interrupting access will have the opposite effect. Likewise, doing nothing or simply maintaining existing infrastructure for an extended period of time will also hinder development.
For 30+ years Rochester has relied on the infrastructure choices it made in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. At that time we made development choices that encouraged our population to emigrate from the downtown core. We scrapped our extensive streetcar system, choked off downtown with the construction of the inner-loop, and paved super highways to take us from the city to the NY State Thruway and beyond. Since then that’s exactly where our money, our workforce, and our future have gone—down I-490 and out of state.