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Copenhagen transportation: A day in one family’s life

Guest blog by Doug Kelley.

A family in Copenhagen–mine.

Copenhagen is famous for having the world’s best bike infrastructure and highest rates of bike transportation. (OK Amsterdam, you’re not bad, either.) Transit nerds love to extol the engineering details, celebrate the signage, and explain the traffic patterns in excruciating detail. While I admit getting excited by those nerd-outs — I’m an engineering professor and a lifelong cyclist, after all — the real point is the beautiful lifestyle enabled when communities “Copenhagenize.” So here’s a snapshot, one typical day of the lifestyle, as lived by my family and me during our sabbatical year away from Rochester.

The bike lane on busy Lyngbyvej is wide and separated from motor traffic. At rush hour, all the lanes fill, but cycling is safe and pleasant anyway.

After a Danish breakfast of pastries, yogurt, and coffee, I hop on my bike for the morning commute. Neighborhood roads bring me to Lyngbyvej (pronounced “loong boo vye”), busy at rush hour with more car traffic than almost any road in central Copenhagen. Still, it’s a pleasant place to cycle, because its wide bike lanes are separated from the cars by curbs, and because automotive traffic is held to reasonable speeds by stoplight timing and posted limits. At rush hour, Copenhagen’s roads carry more bikes than cars, so I feel like part of the crowd. Some cyclists ride slower, and some ride faster, passing on the left, often after ringing their bells to avoid surprises. (Impatient commuters sometimes ring excessively.) As I head south, motorists turning right wait at the intersection for a gap in the long line of cyclists passing in their own lane.

From experience I know that the stoplight at Tagensvej (pronounced “tah gens vye”) is slow, so seeing its pedestrian signal turn green up ahead, I pedal harder. A green bike signal comes next, then a green signal for motorists. I sail through as the bike signal turns yellow. Arriving at work in under 10 minutes after a 1.5-mile ride, I’m invigorated and just starting to warm up. Bike parking is ample, with spots in the open by the nearby entrance, covered spots further away, and beyond them, an underground bike-only parking deck for bad weather and expensive bikes. Most folks ride commuter bikes, akin to what Americans might call hybrids, neither flashy nor expensive, just practical. I pull into a covered spot.

Cyclists and pedestrians in Copenhagen can be confident that their safe routes won’t dead-end, even when construction in booming Nordhavn gets in the way.

Meanwhile my younger daughter, age 12, sets out for school, also biking. She soon turns left from Lyngbyvej, using the usual jug-handle method: ride across the intersecting street, stop until the signals change, then ride left across Lyngbyvej and on toward school. That keeps her in the bike lanes all the time, so she doesn’t have to change lanes and cut across motor traffic. Like the Danes, she gives a hand signal beforehand. A few blocks later, road signs direct her through a slight detour. Construction is blocking the usual bike lane, so the motor-vehicle lanes have been narrowed to make room for bikes and pedestrians, protected by a steel barrier. Construction is no excuse to block important bike and pedestrian thoroughfares.

Copenahgen may have the world’s highest rates of bike transportation, but it doesn’t have the world’s best weather. Today it’s drizzling, so my daughter is wearing a shell jacket, boots, and her new waterproof pants. Danes like to say there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Sure enough, rain hardly changes the number of cyclists on the road, and today the nearby cyclists wear clothing varying from Gore-Tex to full-body ponchos to soggy blue jeans. Most of their bikes have fenders, and lights are required by law–winter nights in Denmark are long.

My daughters turn left here on their way to school. Cars, bikes, and pedestrians all have separate lanes and separate traffic signals. Cyclists can lean on the railing above the curb, and the timer (circle of white lights) tells when their signal will change. Also: Danes dress well, regardless of whether they are pedaling!

Having stuff to carry doesn’t keep people from cycling, either. I take my laptop and lunch to work in waterproof saddle bags. My daughter carries a backpack, like many of the riders around her. Nearly all their bikes have racks on the back, often bearing loads held with bungee cords. Mail, football equipment, take-out, Ikea furniture, and all manner of things get carted around on sturdy flatbed cargo bikes, sometimes with electrical assistance to make pedaling easier. Danish parents commonly carry their kids to school in cargo bikes with boxed compartments on the front. Older kids sit on tag-along bikes attached to mom’s or dad’s. Most have learned to ride solo by age 3 or 4, and are getting to school on their own bikes by age 6 or 7.

My older daughter, age 13, isn’t a morning person and leaves later, finishing her 2.2-mile commute and parking her bike just in time for class. After school, the clouds persist but the rain has quit, so she decides to bike with classmates to Stroget, one of the largest pedestrian-only market streets in Europe, to window-shop and buy some candy to share. As her dinnertime curfew approaches, she considers the headwinds and decides not to bike all the way home, instead catching the S-train, which allows bikes anytime. Metro trains also allow bikes, though not at rush hour, and only with an extra ticket. But she might be tempted to take the Metro anyway once the new Orientkaj stop opens–it’s next-door to her school.

The nearby Vibenshus Runddel metro station, which my daughters and I pass on our morning commutes.

While the rest of us are away, my wife shops for some hygge (cozy) furnishings at the neighborhood secondhand shop, then picks up groceries for dinner, including fresh-baked bread. She could bike both places, but decides to walk for exercise, and anyway the grocery store is only three blocks from our apartment. After working at home awhile, she rides the S-train to Klampenborg to jog in the woods. In summer, she might instead bike to the Nordhavn harbor for a swim, or cycle 25 miles to Helsingør, then ride the train home. Neither she nor I need to plan our day around driving our kids from place to place, since they can capably bike and navigate public transportation on their own.

Home together at the end of the day, the four of us light candles, start a fire in the wood stove, and sit down to dinner. My younger daughter is ravenous after biking home from football (pronounced “soccer”) practice. My older daughter is proud that her new fitness tracker logged 14,000 steps since the morning. We have lived another day of our full and busy lives, traveling to work and school and many other places without driving a car or wishing for one. Our daily travels have required nearly no fossil fuel and put nearly no carbon into the atmosphere. Outdoor exercise lifts our moods and keeps us fit. Alternative transportation gives the kids freedom to move about independently, making extra time for us parents. And in the summertime, when the days are long and the skies are clear, Copenhagen transportation is even more lovely.

Stroget, the pedestrian street where my older daughter goes with her friends. Cargo bikes like the one parked here can carry a couple of small kids or a lot of groceries.

Crucially, you don’t have to live in Copenhagen to enjoy this lifestyle. Ride RTS. Rent a Pace bike. Stroll to your neighborhood cafe. Bike to work and to the Public Market. Though Rochester’s bike infrastructure doesn’t match Copenhagen — nobody’s does — you can bike to many destinations without using big, ugly roads clogged with motorists. Pedal on the Canal Path, on the River Trail, on the cycle tracks along Union Street or Elmwood Avenue, on the network of Bike Boulevards, or simply on quiet streets that parallel the big thoroughfares. Teach your kids to bike, show them safe and effective routes, let them walk, and teach them to use public transportation. Tell community leaders about the importance of building alternative transportation infrastructure. And support organizations like Reconnect Rochester that are enlarging this lifestyle in Rochester. 

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The Great Things We Accomplished in 2019

As we look back on 2019, we’re amazed at what we’ve been able to accomplish together this year. The highlights below are just a snapshot of all the good work we’ve been able to do, thanks to the financial support of Reconnect members, the passionate volunteers that make our programs and initiatives run, and so many others that engaged in our work in countless ways. Thanks to each and every one of you.

Sponsored a Cornell University Design Connect project to help the Brighton community create a vision for Monroe Ave., with an improved street design and streetscape that is more vibrant and safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

For the third year in a row, we crowdsourced funds to sponsor two bike share stations on Hudson Avenue & Adams Street. Plus, this fall we broadcast a live presentation and Q&A with Pace to recap Rochester’s 2019 bike share season.

Hosted a packed Rochester Street Films screening of The Trolley that sparked community conversation about modern streetcars making a comeback in American life, and the history and future of streetcars in Rochester. 

Helped shape two transformational local planning initiatives by giving direct input and promoting public engagement:  the Reimagine RTS system re-design (coming to fruition in June 2020), and the transportation and mobility aspects of the City of Rochester’s 2034 Comprehensive Plan.

In collaboration with many neighborhood and community partners, we brought our Complete Streets Makeover to N. Clinton Ave., implementing temporary street design changes to make it safer, and building community in the process.

Weighed in on the prospect of e-scooters coming to Rochester by offering common sense, research-based input about how our community might integrate this new micro-mobility option it in a safe, smart way.

Fought for the transit dependent in our community by traveling to Albany with Our Streets Transit Coalition partners, spreading awareness of the New Yorkers for Better Public Transit campaign, and stepping into a leadership role on the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative transportation work group.

Continued working with a powerful coalition of partners on the Drive 2B Better public awareness campaign to make our streets safer to walk and bike. We collaborated with many of the same partners in the planning and implementation of this year’s Active Transportation Summit.

Gave transit riders a respectable place to sit at our 30+ seasonal bus stop cubes placed around the city. We also worked with a local fiberglass manufacturer to create a permanent cube design as a year-round solution, and have plans to get the first 15 cubes on the ground in spring 2020!

Joined forces with Rochester Cycling Alliance to work side-by-side as transportation alternative superheroes! We added power to our growing organization when we welcomed Jesse Peers as Cycling Coordinator.

Engaged with the public every day via live events, community outreach tabling, speaking engagements, media interviews, social media sharing, and blog posts about things like “sneckdowns”living car-free in ROC, and driving’s dehumanizing effect.

…And this doesn’t count the untold number of advocacy actions we take day in and day out to advocate for the things we all care about, like a robust public transportation system, streets that are safe for everyone, and a community that’s built to be multi-modal.

But now we’re just bragging.

Help Us Keep the Momentum Going in 2020!

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Opinion: Driving’s Dehumanizing Effect

Guest blog by Arian Horbovetz. Arian is the creator of The Urban Phoenix, a blog focused on conversations around the elements that create healthy cities, neighborhoods and communities today. Arian covers walkability, public transit, financial solvency, bike infrastructure, smart development, public space, public pride and ownership of our futures. While he discusses issues of public policy, legislation, statistics and money, The UP specializes in addressing public perceptions and how they affect the way we see our cities.

Not long ago, a professor at Brockport Central School teacher was struck and killed by a pickup truck about 25 minutes from my hometown of Rochester, NY. The driver was ticketed for “failing to safely pass a bicycle…” a far too familiar slap on the wrist for a deadly crime of negligence.

This is the latest in a rash of similar pedestrian and bike related deaths in my area over the last several months, a tragic but predictably dismissed epidemic that is simply accepted as “the cost of doing business” in American car culture.

This afternoon, I was riding my bike home from work when a speeding pickup truck flew by my just a foot and a half or so away. The driver was trying to make the light up ahead while avoiding the oncoming car in the opposite lane.

As is often the case, the driver missed the green light, stopping before the intersection. I rolled up behind him, calling to his open driver side window, “hope that was worth it!” I received an aggressive hand gesture in response.

This was far from the first time this has happened… I can’t count the number of times a driver has made an aggressive pass on me at an unsafe distance and speed, only to sit at a light or next several lights with me alongside just a few seconds later. But this time, I had a thought that I never did before. I’ve heard so many cyclists and urbanists talk about how many drivers see cyclists as “less than human.” Indeed, I’ve written articles talking about the lack of respect for cyclists because of the inability for drivers to see bikes as viable forms of transportation. Instead, drivers see cyclists in the road as a recreational nuisance impeding their commute, nothing more.

Today, I realized it’s even worse than that. In order for drivers to see cyclists as sub-human, they have to acknowledge humanity in the surrounding environment in the first place. Even to see someone as less than you is to see them and be aware of their existence. I truly now believe, based on everything I’ve seen in driving behavior, that most drivers don’t see the cars, bikes and other vehicles around them as being piloted by living things at all. I believe the average driver sees other motorists and cyclists simply as video-game-like obstacles that need to be overcome in order to advance in a game of speed and power. In other words, there is something about the automobile that disconnects drivers from the reality that anyone else on the road or in the surrounding environment is worthy of their respect as human beings with spouses, families, jobs and dependents. It’s not that drivers see cyclists and pedestrians as less-than-human, it’s that aggressive motorists will stop but nothing to reach their destination in timely fashion, seeing all others as sand traps and water hazards, cones and barrels, or any other inanimate barrier to success and “freedom.” It is a level of self-absorption rooted in a century of individualistically auto-centered American behavior so ingrained that it blinds the power-infused driver to the presence of potential human impact.

This might seem like an extreme assumption, and perhaps it is. But I can think of no other explanation for the incredible disregard for the physical safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers that motorists routinely display. In our eyes behind the wheel, people become objects, cyclists become hazards and other drivers become enemies.

We can’t solve the problem of pedestrian, cyclist and auto fatalities unless we get to the root of the mindset that enables their frequency. Next time you pass a cyclist, think of her family. Next time you enter a crosswalk without looking both ways, think of the young man trying to get to work or to class. Next time you move aggressively around another car, think of the children that might be strapped in the back seat. Think of the lives these people live, the people who love them and depend on them instead of the 10-30 seconds that putting them in danger may save you. We’re all in this together out there, so let’s start driving like it! Or better yet, take the bus, get on a bike or walk to where you need to go whenever possible!


We can all do our part to make our community safer by paying more attention behind the wheel.

Check out the Drive 2B Better campaign website to learn how. Watch some super cool ad videos. Test your knowledge of the rules of the road. Take a pledge and commit to doing your part.

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Rochester Cycling Alliance Joins Reconnect Rochester

We have exciting news! (It may be the worst kept transportation-related secret in Rochester, because most of you already know.) 

Reconnect Rochester and Rochester Cycling Alliance, two groups that work to promote transportation alternatives in Monroe County, are combining their operations. We will be working together as our own little dream team; wonder twins; transportation alternative superheroes. Together, we will continue striving to create a transportation network that allows all people — regardless of age, ability, income and mode of transportation — to get around safely in the Rochester region.

Reconnect Rochester was founded in 2009 by a group of ordinary citizens who saw a need to create a more multi-modal and robust transportation network that prioritizes people, regardless of their mode of transportation. Over the last decade, our organization has rallied and engaged the community and local leadership to create more robust public transportation, more complete streets, and better, safer transportation alternatives for all. 

The Rochester Cycling Alliance (RCA) began in the summer of 2008 with the goal of uniting local bicycling advocates, enthusiasts and organizations to provide a public voice for all cyclists. RCA has promoted the use of bicycles as transportation, sport, recreation and health. It advocates for improved cycling infrastructure, education, programs and legislation. It strives to help implement active transportation plans, training and outreach programs to help encourage more people to ride, and local governments to provide more complete streets to allow them to safely do so. 

This shared vision of a more multi-modal region was at the heart of the decision for the two organizations to join together. Reconnect Rochester, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, is expanding our mission and purpose. Our newly blended team welcomed Jesse Peers as Cycling Coordinator this summer. He joined our Director of Planning & Development, Mary Staropoli, as our second official employee. Bill Collins, Brendan Ryan and Susan Levin joined Reconnect Rochester’s board of directors as representatives of the RCA, whose membership will continue their bike advocacy efforts as a work group of the larger organization. Reconnect Rochester’s other active work groups will continue to concentrate on furthering bus system innovation, rail transit, and pedestrian safety.

“People tend to attach themselves to their vehicle of choice, but it’s not about bike people versus bus people versus car people,” says Mike Governale, founder of Reconnect Rochester. “Our hope is that by bringing the groups together, we can begin to break down ‘mode silos’ and encourage the community to view transportation options as an interconnected system. Transportation planning is about moving people, not vehicles.”

Dr. Scott MacRae, Immediate Past President of RCA said, “Under the leadership of the late RCA co-founder and past president Richard DeSarra, the RCA has been instrumental in helping create bicycle/pedestrian master plans in the City of Rochester and the multiple surrounding municipalities, introducing bike share to our community, and expanding bike lanes and infrastructure to keep moving us toward the goal of being a top tier bike friendly community.  It was Richard DeSarra and others who envisioned combining forces of the two organizations synergistically.”

Jesse Peers, Reconnect Rochester Cycling Coordinator: “We’re better together. The youthful energy and creativity within Reconnect’s organization, and the decades of experience in advocacy work that RCA members bring to the fore, is the perfect combination.”

As our organization evolves and learns new things, so too does our leadership team. After almost a decade at the helm as president, our incomparable founder Mike Governale stepped into a new role on our Board of Advisors. In January 2019, Renée Stetzer and Pete Nabozny moved into new roles as president and vice-president, respectively. And the tireless work of our board members picked up steam with the addition of Michael Damico as the new Pedestrian Work Group Chair. He joined longtime board members Brenda Massie, Jason Partyka, DeWain Feller, Dan Speciale, John Lam and Daniel Cordova.

It takes a village to bring about change in our transportation network. Our collaboration will give our collective multi-modal efforts a huge boost, as we share resources, infrastructure, ideas and energy.

Join us to help celebrate our growing organization on Thursday, December 12 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Frame Brewery Co. (155 St. Paul St.). No RSVP necessary. Complimentary appetizers & cake. Cash bar.



Rochester's updated bike ordinances

On September 17th, the Rochester’s City Council approved changes to the city code in regard to bicycles. The bike ordinances hadn’t been updated since the 1960s! For a full listing, see below. Of particular note is an official prohibition for cars parking in bike lanes. The city is being very upfront that enforcement will be soft and gradual and that there must be some efforts towards changing the culture and educating motorists before the prohibition is strictly enforced. The RCA and Reconnect Rochester are eager to collaborate with the city on that educational work. In the meantime, go ahead and thank council members for moving us in the right direction.
 
Amending the Municipal Code with respect to bicycle riding and bike lanes
BE IT ORDAINED, by the Council of the City of Rochester as follows:
Section 1. Chapter 34 of the Municipal Code, Bicycles, as amended, is hereby further amended to:
a. Revise Section 34-1, Definitions, to read as follows:
BICYCLE: Every two or three wheeled device upon which a person or persons may ride, propelled by human power through a belt, a chain or gears, with such wheels in a line or tricycle arrangement.
BIKE LANE: The portion of a roadway that has been delineated and marked for the use of bicycles, not including any lane specifically marked for the shared use of bicycles and motor vehicles.
CENTRAL TRAFFIC DISTRICT: The area bounded by the Inner Loop, North Union Street, South Union Street, Howell Street and Interstate 490, but shall exclude the Inner Loop, Interstate 490 and their respective frontages.
CYCLE TRACK: A pathway in the public right-of-way that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic and distinct from the sidewalk and that is marked for the use of bicycles. A cycle track may be configured for one-way or
two-way traffic.
b. Revise Section 34-6, Regulations, to read as follows:
A. Bicycle riding rules for persons 12 years of age or under. Unless accompanied by a rider over 18 years of age, children 12 years of age or under shall ride bicycles on the sidewalk, cycle track, Genesee Riverway Trail or other multi-use trail.
B. Bicycle riding rules for persons over age 12. Persons over 12 years of age shall ride a bicycle either on a usable bike lane or cycle track or, if a usable bike lane or cycle track has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along the bike lane, cycle track or right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. Conditions to be taken into consideration as potentially unsafe include, but are not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, in-line skaters, pedestrians, animals or surface hazards. Within the Central Traffic District, persons over 12 years of age shall not ride a bicycle on the sidewalk except where the sidewalk is identified as part of the Genesee Riverway Trail or other multi-use trail system, or if riding with a child 12 years old or under, or if reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions in a bike lane, cycle track or roadway. Outside of the Central Traffic District, persons over 12 years of age may ride bicycles upon the sidewalk, Genesee Riverway Trail or any multi-use trail. The prohibition against riding bicycles upon sidewalks in the Central Traffic District shall not apply to police officers in the performance of their duties.
C. Yield to pedestrians. The operator of a bicycle shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians when using the sidewalk.
D. Riding in groups. Bicycles shall not be ridden more than two abreast upon a roadway. Persons operating bicycles upon a shoulder, bike lane, cycle track or sidewalk may ride more than two abreast if sufficient space
is available. When passing a vehicle, bicycle, in-line skater or a pedestrian, persons operating bicycles shall ride single file.
E. Passengers and towing. No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped. The operators of bicycles shall not pull another person on skates, a skateboard or similar device and shall not pull or tow a sled, wagon or other item unless by the use of a bicycle trailer, trailing bicycle or other device designed and intended to be connected to a bicycle for that purpose.
F. Maintaining Control. Operators of bicycles must keep at least one hand on handlebars and both feet on pedals. The obligation to keep both feet on the pedals shall not apply to an operator who is unable to do so due to a condition or impairment that constitutes a disability within the meaning of federal. state or local law.
Section 2. Chapter 111 of the Municipal Code, Vehicle and Traffic, as amended, is hereby further amended to add a new subsection to Section 111-24, Standing or parking prohibited in specified places, to read as follows:
No person shall stand or park a vehicle, except momentarily to pick up or discharge a passenger or passengers, or when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or traffic control device, in any of the following places, unless otherwise indicated by official signs, markings or parking meters:
E. Within a bike lane, a cycle track or a trail designated for bicycles or mixed uses.
Section 3. This ordinance shall take effect immediately.

Image courtesy of New York DOT

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What I’ve Learned About Going Car-Free (And Why I Plan to Continue)

Guest blog by Calvin Eaton. Calvin is the founder of 540WMain Communiversity, a grassroots non-profit community based university. Calvin is a digital content creator, social entrepreneur, and educator whose area of expertise includes antiracism, diversity, inclusion, K-12 curriculum writing and teaching, gluten free plant based living, and higher education.

If you’ve followed my journey over the last couple of years you probably know that I sold my car in June 2018 and became a car-free professional. There are so many reasons why going car-free was the best decision for me and I want to share a few things I’ve learned over the past year and why I plan to continue my car-free lifestyle.

Like every typical American teen I couldn’t’ wait to get my drivers license so I could enter into grown up world of driving. Like most youth I had been indoctrinated to believe that getting my drivers license at the ripe old age of sixteen was the consummate mark of becoming an adult. American culture worships the car and the transition from child to pre-teen to adult is distinctly marked by getting a drivers license and soon after getting your first car. I admit that for me a drivers license (and by proxy a car) represented freedom, independence, and adulthood. At no point in my adolescence did I question this societal standard, ask why car ownership is idolized, or ask if youth in other cultures are cultivated to own a car at the stroke of sixteen like we are here in America.

After years of driving and adulting; last year I came to the strong conclusion that I honestly do not enjoy driving. In actuality, I hate driving. Driving for me is a sometimes necessity to get from point A to point B or take care of very specific tasks in life. Generally speaking, for me the process and responsibility of driving and more importantly being a responsible driver is stressful. After years of being car payment free and then bucking to societal pressure and getting a lease for a new Honda in 2016, last year I came to a dramatic conclusion that none of it was worth it. Not the maintenance, not the insurance payments, not the monthly car payments. I realized that I do not enjoy driving enough to own my own car and it was this realization that served as my primary reason to get sell my car and become car- free.

What I’ve Learned

Since then public transportation has become my primary means of mobility throughout the City. For me, public transportation works great. I live on a main bus line, work remotely and spend most of my time in the inner city going between the east and west parts of the City via Main Street. Most of my deviation from this daily norm is my travel to area colleges for co-working and meetings. For these times I use Lyft. In addition to these methods of mobility, I walk and sometimes bike. Walking and biking would be more part of my daily regimen if I did not have to deal with the ill and daily effects of living fibromyalgia and chronic pain which sometimes make walking and exercise difficult. Still since ditching my car I am happy to get in more daily steps and see more of the City. When the weather is clear walking is so beautiful and it has been a great way to place myself in spaces and places that I would never enter into if I commuted by car.

I understand that my work and and life affords me privileges that make going car free much easier for me than others. Still I am glad that I am in the position to bring more awareness to public transit, biking, and even walking to get around the City. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that for many young professionals like myself it is really about having a repertoire of easy to access mobility options at the ready when I need them. For me, having a car every single day is just not necessary. However it is necessary for me to be able to have a roster of easily accessible mobility options at my beck and call when I need them. There are some days that I will take the bus in the morning and then take a Lyft back home. Sometimes I borrow a family member’s car when I need to transport something then I drop it off to them mid-day and walk to the bus stop to get to my next destination. Just today, I took the bus downtown, took two meetings, then walked back home. I had my mother drop me off at the public market and then hailed a Lyft to 540WMain. This type of multi-mobility has become just as common and seamless for me as jumping in a car was just a few years ago.

I’ll admit that sometimes planning out my transit in advance can be a minor annoyance and every now and then after a late night class at 540, I wish I didn’t have to wait for the next bus; but for me these moments are few and far between. Because I have designed a highly dense life where everything that I need is within close proximity a car is not only impractical for to get around Rochester but burdensome. I just do not need a car every day and when I do need one, I have the access for that specific occasion and once that is fulfilled my needs are met.

I recognize that going car-free is not the lifestyle nor an option for for everyone but for those that are able to ditch the car or use their cars less, tapping into the biking community is not only good for the earth but good for our City. The more folks that use RTS the more services and infrastructure that will be created to accommodate a more comprehensive system. This will normalize public transit as a viable and accessible mobility option. The more folks who bike for commute the more biking will be normalized on our City streets and force officials, planners, and policy makers to make spaces and communities that support intentional bike infrastructure and design. As we travel deeper into 21st century living we need to be less reliant on cars and more reliant on urbanscapes that make mobility easy and accessible for everyone. Owning a car should be a choice not a necessity to tap into all that our City has to offer.

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Announcing the Winner and Finalists of the 2019 Complete Streets Makeover

(Drumroll please…)

Announcing the Winner and Finalists of the 2019 Complete Streets Makeover

In March, we asked you to help identify the intersections and trouble-spots where you live, work and play that could be redesigned to make them safer for everyone.

The community response was tremendous, and we thank all those who took the time to submit nominations! We received a total of 159 nominations for 31 locations in Monroe County.

Click here to view in Google Maps

The Steering Committee had a tough task to choose from so many quality submissions and deserving locations! A set of established judging criteria helped guide us through the selection process. Here we are, hard at work examining each and every submission:

 

So What’s the Good Word?

In the end, we selected the following locations for this year’s project:

  • N. Clinton Ave. in the El Camino neighborhood – WINNER
  • S. Clinton, S. Goodman & Henrietta St. – FINALIST
  • Monroe Ave. & Sutherland St. (Village of Pittsford) – FINALIST
The block of N. Clinton Ave. between Hoeltzer St. & Sullivan St. will be the project focus area

The North Clinton Ave. location presented the right mix of community support, evidence of safety concerns, and potential for a street re-design that would create real, transformative change for the community through our project. A Complete Streets Makeover will also be perfectly timed to dovetail with plans already underway for this corridor.

We are eager to get to work with Ibero-American Development Corporation and other community partners in the El Camino neighborhood to be part of the exciting development of the International Plaza (see rendering below), which recently received funding from the City of Rochester that will drive the project forward.

What Happens Now?

The Complete Streets Makeover will kick off with a community input session in June (facilitated by the Community Design Center) to hear from the residents of the El Camino neighborhood about their experiences and ideas. No one understands what it’s like to use our streets better than those who walk, bike, roll and ride along them everyday.

Parsells Avenue Redesign Event, Beechwood Neighborhood
Last year’s community input session in the Beechwood neighborhood.

Based on feedback from this session, the complete streets design team at Stantec will draft conceptual design improvements of an improved streetscape. The design will be brought to life through a temporary on-street installation in September. We will rely on people power from the neighborhood community, and equipment from the Healthi Kids traffic calming library to lay down the temporary design on the street. Stay tuned for project updates as we go along!

What About the Finalists?

Our finalists won’t walk away empty-handed! The design team at Stantec will provide each of them with a conceptual drawing of street design improvements. The neighborhoods can use these illustrations as a launch pad for community discussion, and a tool to help advocate for changes that would make these streets safer for everyone

S. Clinton, S. Goodman & Henrietta St.
Monroe Ave. & Sutherland St. (Village of Pittsford)

Bike Week 2019 Gets Riders Out in Rochester

Cycling advocate Richard Fries, in town to serve as announcer for the Twilight Criterium, also led a slow ride highlighting bike infrastructure around Rochester.


Rochester’s Bike Week 2019 was a huge success! Thanks so much to the ride leaders and organizers for collaborating with us. Bike Week kicked off Friday, May 10th with the RCA’s annual Light Up The Night Ride. The weather was a little chilly but everyone had a good time decorating their bikes with glow sticks and riding around town. Saturday was area cyclists’ favorite day of the year: the MVP Twilight Criterium put on by Full Moon Vista. Kecia and Black Girls Do Bike went on a ROC Urban Slow Ride with announcer Richard Fries. At the same time, Jesse Peers led his first George Eastman Bike Tour of the year for George Eastman Museum. Families converged on downtown for the Criterium races in the evening.
Weather was awful for Mother’s Day so rides resumed Monday with Flower City Bike Party’s Welcome to Rochester Ride. On Tuesday, riders got their pick between the city’s Tuesday Guided Bike Tour and the Rochester Bike Kids’ Taco Tuesday Ride. The biggest ride of the week, the annual Ride of Silence, occurred on Wednesday as area cyclists rode for safer streets in solidarity with those harmed and killed while riding their bikes. The weekly Unity Rides resumed on Thursday, this time with a couple RPD bike patrol officers accompanying us.
Friday morning the RCA conducted a Bike To Work Day bagel & coffee giveaway beside the Union Street Cycle track to give commuters the chance to fuel up for their commutes. Deputy Mayor James Smith and many commuters from City Hall were present for Mayor Warren’s Bike Week proclamation. That evening, riders got to choose between the annual Beechwood Ride and the Tryon Bike Social Ride. Cyclists headed over to the Flower City Arts Center on Saturday for the free bike wash. Though the thundershowers postponed Sunday’s annual Seersucker Ride, 15 riders chose to ride anyway before the storm hit. Join us Sunday June 2nd at 10am at Abundance Food Co-op for the Seersucker Ride makeup date.

Upcoming: Rochester Women's Bike Festival

Don’t miss this year’s Rochester Women’s Bike Festival on 15 June! Focused on beginners, the event is overflowing with talks and workshops about how to bike safely and enjoyably around Rochester. Learn about traffic rules, gear, maintenance, routes, and more. Breakfast and lunch are included, ASL interpretation is provided, and daycare is available. Lucky attendees will win bikes from Yellow Haus, DreamBikes, and a personal donation. Admission is free, so register now. The event runs 9-4 on 15 June at the Adams Street Recreation Center, 85 Adams Street.

In the News: Bike to School Day 2019

Rochester-area media outlets are noticing the growing momentum of bikes in our communities, if their coverage of Bike to School Day is any indicator. WHAM aired this segment focusing on the Bike to School Day event at School 23 in Rochester, and WHEC aired this segment giving an overview of the event.
It’s no accident that Bike to School Day is getting noticed–lots of schools are hosting events, and lots of community leaders are participating. At Indian Landing School in Penfield, more than 150 people rode in last Wednesday’s Bike to School Day event, including Penfield Town Supervisor Tony LaFountain and Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle. Penfield school superintendent Dr. Thomas Putnam greeted riders at the school as they arrived. At Jefferson Road Elementary in Pittsford, more than 150 people biked, including Town Supervisor Bill Smith and two members of the Town and Village Boards. At School 23 in Rochester, more than 60 people biked, including Principal John Gonzalez. The group was greeted by Interim Superintendent Dan Lowengard as they arrived at the school. At Manor Intermediate School in Honeoye Falls, 100 people biked, including Superintendent Eugene Mancuso and Principal Jeanine Lupisella. (See more about their event on this post on facebook, and this one and this one on Twitter.) In Brighton, Council Rock Primary School, French Road Elementary, and Twelve Corners Middle School all participated. Twelve Corners had about 150 riders, French Road had even more riders than last year’s count of 240, and Council Rock has expanded their event to span the whole week–nice. Big thanks go to all those leaders for their support of bike transportation!
Bike to School Day is a national event held the first Wednesday of every May, with thousands of schools participating. Its goal is to highlight biking and walking as great ways to get from place to place, not just one day each year, but every day. Biking and walking improve our physical fitness, make us healthier emotionally, reduce climate change, cost less than driving a car, and build community by putting us closer to our neighbors. And teaching our kids to go places by walking and biking lets them take on freedom and responsibility gradually and in age-appropriate ways. A kid with a bike isn’t stuck in his room with video games and social media all day!
Organizing a Bike to School Day event at your own school is really easy, and the Rochester Cycling Alliance would be glad to help–just send us an email. You can also bike with your own kids on the way to school, start a bike train with lots of kids biking to school and a few parents taking turns riding along, or let your older kids bike to school on their own. (My friends and I started in third grade.) You can also talk to your school about incorporating bikes and bike safety into physical education classes; the New York Bicycling Coalition has a curriculum ready to go.

Rochester Bike Week 2019

It’s Bike Week in Rochester! In fact, Bike Week is so full of great events that it’s swollen to more than a week, running 10-19 May, 2019. So whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a curious new rider, you can get involved in lots of events to kick off the summer cycling season and explore Rochester on two wheels. All of these events are on the RCA Calendar, which includes more details (click the + at bottom right to get them on your calendar, too). Get a load of them:

  • The Light up the Night Ride, with glow sticks and prizes, starts 10 May at 7:30 pm at 131 Elmwood Ave.
  • The George Eastman Bike Tour, rolling through Rochester history, starts 11 May at 10 am at George’s place (900 East Ave).
  • The Twilight Criterium will race through the streets of downtown Rochester at breakneck speed on the evening of 11 May.
  • Kidical Mass will take a family ride for Mothers’ Day on 12 May at 10 am.
  • The Flower City Bike Party Ride will cruise through the southeast neighborhoods on 13 May, starting at 6:30 pm at 275 East Main St.
  • The City of Rochester will start its Tuesday Guided Bike Tours on 14 May at 6 pm at the Lake Riley Lodge in Cobbs Hill Park.
  • Rochester Bike Kids will stage their first Taco Tuesday Ride of 2019 on 14 May at 7 pm at 489 South Ave.
  • The Ride of Silence will have cyclists riding in solidarity for safer streets with better bike infrastructure on 15 May, starting at 7 pm at 275 East Main St.
  • The first of this summer’s Unity Rides will begin at 7 pm on 16 May at 855 West Main St.
  • It’s national Bike to Work Day on 17 May, and RCA will be offering free coffee and snacks through the morning at Union and Broad Sts.
  • The Beechwood Ride will tour that neighborhood on 17 May, starting at 5:30 at 530 Webster Ave.
  • Meanwhile, the Tryon Bike Week Social Ride will start at 6 pm at 80 Rockwood Place.
  • Get the grime off your ride at a free bike wash, 18 May 10 am to 3 pm at 713 Monroe Ave.
  • The Reconnect Rochester Beechwood Complete Streets Makeover will turn a dangerous intersection into a welcoming place for bikes, pedestrians, and drivers; help make the makeover happen 10 am to 2 pm on 18 May at 441 Parsells Ave.
  • Last but not least, the Seersucker Ride will take us out in style on 19 May, starting at 10 am at 571 South Ave.

Check out the RCA Calendar for links, contact information, descriptions, and more!

Help keep bike share on Hudson Avenue

It’s April in Rochester, so our Pace bikeshare program has returned from hibernation, and bikes are back on the streets. In fact, I took my first bikeshare ride of the season yesterday, and it got me from a lunch meeting at U of R to an afternoon meeting in the East End for just $1, in less than 15 minutes, on a warm and lovely day, when I didn’t have my own bike with me.
As maybe you realize, $1 per ride isn’t enough to support the bikeshare program. Each of the dozens of Pace docks in Rochester exists because city government, businesses, community organizations, and citizens have come together to provide $9000 per year. Some docks bring customers and are enthusiastically supported by businesses whose earnings increase much more than the cost of the dock. But to really grow active transportation in Rochester, we need the bikeshare network to cover lots of places people go, and to extend to under-served populations for whom low-cost bike transportation is not just a novelty, but a true economic opportunity.
That’s why I urge you to help keep bike share on Hudson Avenue by making a donation for the dock there. Our friends at Reconnect Rochester fund the dock with a yearly campaign. You can read their well-stated explanation (and also find out about the perks of becoming a supporter). Donate here. I did!

Support the Active Transportation Summit

The Rochester Cycling Alliance is co-sponsoring the 2019 Active Transportation Summit, organized by Common Ground Health. Scheduled for May 23, 8:30-4 at the Rochester Riverside Hotel, the summit is themed “Ideas into Motion”. It will feature consultant and activist Mark Fenton as the keynote speaker, New York State Department of State Director of Smart Growth and Planning Paul Beyer as the plenary speaker, and sixteen breakout sessions. You can learn more and get tickets here. And you can support the summit with a donation using the button below. Hope to see you on 23 May!




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Join Our Team!

Part-time Cycling Coordinator Position Available

Do you get excited by the sight of cycle tracks and trails? Do abruptly ending bike lanes and hazardous intersections make you crazy? Are you organized, resourceful, self-motivated and flexible?

Your dream job awaits.

Reconnect Rochester is searching for an individual to spearhead all cycling related events, advocacy, education, and outreach activities for our organization. This person will work closely with our volunteer Cycling Work Group in running all aspects of our cycling efforts, and will work out of our office in the Hungerford building on E. Main St.

The job may be part-time, but the benefits are endless.

To apply, email a cover letter and resume to info@ReconnectRochester.org by March 15th.

 

Speak up for cycle tracks on Main Street

The City of Rochester is planning work on two sections of Main St.: from St. Paul St. to State St., and from Goodman St. to Culver Rd. Cycle tracks (bike lanes separated from motor traffic by a curb) are included in one of the design options for each section. The Rochester Cycling Alliance supports cycle tracks for these projects! Cycle tracks promote the highest level of safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicles including buses.
We hope you will take just a minute, right now, to send letters expressing your support of cycle tracks. We’ve written this draft letter about St. Paul to State, and this draft letter about Goodman to Culver, which you can use as templates to get started. Be sure to insert your own name and address where appropriate, and send both letters to the Hon. Norman Jones, the City’s Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services, who is overseeing the design process. You could also send copies to Mayor Lovely A. Warren, Deputy Mayor James P. Smith, Councilman Malik Evans, and Project Manager Jeff Mroczek. Happy letter writing! Happy citizenship!

Canal Path + Riverway Trail = 10,000 users weekly

We posted a few weeks ago about great new data from the Genesee Transportation Council showing just how much the Riverway Trail gets used–a lot! Now we can share preliminary data, also from GTC, about usage of the Erie Canal Path. During the week of 1 September, more than 4000 people used the Canal Path at the NY-15A bridge. Add that to the Riverway Trail numbers, and you find more than 10,000 users of these great community resources. Let’s make sure they are supported and expanded!
For all you wonks, here’s the data:
Sat, Sep 1, 2018: 800
Sun, Sep 2, 2018: 603
Mon, Sep 3, 2018: 683
Tue, Sep 4, 2018: 519
Wed, Sep 5, 2018: 400
Thu, Sep 6, 2018: 478
Fri, Sep 7, 2018: 653

Teaching English and Cycling in Kazan

Karen shows a student in Kazan the finer points of bicycle maintenance.


An update from Karen Lankeshofer, longtime Cycling Alliance member and Henrietta resident who is teaching in Kazan, Russia:
In July 2017, I got an email from a former ESL student of mine asking me if I wanted to teach English at her friend’s private school in Kazan, Russia. I jumped at the chance and was here within 7 weeks. If any of you are soccer fans, you will know that Kazan hosted many of the World Cup matches during last summer. The city lies about 500 miles east of Moscow and is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, a state in the Russian Federation.
The population is about half Tatar and half ethnic Russian. Signs are written in the Tatar and Russian languages, sometimes also in English. The city is dotted with mosques and orthodox churches and without a doubt is the most tolerant city I have ever experienced.
Tatarstan is a very wealthy area with oil and chemical production. Being so far from Europe, it has been mainly influenced by Persia, Mongolia, China, and other eastern parts of the world throughout its history. Genghis Khan controlled the area for many years.
With its considerable wealth, Tatarstan realizes it needs to have more people who are proficient in English to function better in European marketplaces. That’s why my school has me teaching a group of 3- and 4-year-olds English. It is a total immersion program; my aides and I only speak English with these children. It was difficult at the beginning last September because the kids knew no English and were used to getting their own way. Parents were also skeptical until they started seeing results about this time last year. Now they are true believers. The older kids use full sentences which are sometimes grammatically incorrect, but still perfectly understandable. Even the younger ones understand everything and repeat individual words or phrases. It’s been a rewarding one and a half years in the classroom, but it’s also strenuous.
My first purchase in Kazan was a folding bike, which I take on the subway when I’m headed downtown and use to get all over the city, except in winter. The weather is extreme here and, even if I could ride through the deep snow, I don’t relish slipping on the ever-present ice and breaking a leg.
Last February I attended the Winter Cycling Conference in Moscow and met some officials from Kazan who are really motivated to improve the cycling scene here in the city. I thought, “If they can do something, so can I!”, and convinced my school to let me start a bike club.
It’s been a huge success. The mountain biking champion of Russia gives bike lesson to the littlest kids on small bikes without pedals, and I give lessons to the first graders, mostly talking about safety but also taking excursions on trails in the woods. We involve all the kids and have had a family riding day; plus, the head of the Rotary Club here, who just completed a bike trip around the world, has come to talk to our kids. He and I are now working together to spread my school’s program to other schools. And the parents are ecstatic that their kids are leaving their bikes at school all fall to ride on the track we painted on the school courtyard. One parent told us his kid’s bike usually sits in the cellar all summer.
All in all, this has been a great experience for me. I have friends from around the world with whom I undertake a lot of different adventures here in Russia, and I see that they bike revolution is truly an international phenomenon.
I’ll be home in August to start patching inner tubes again. Keep up all your good work and I’ll see you then.
Karen L.

Riverway Trail getting lots of use

The Genesee Riverway Trail is getting lots of use, as shown by new data from the Genesee Transportation Council. Check out the chart: at the Ford Street Bridge, the east and west branches of the trail together support as many as 6000 pedestrians and cyclists each week! In a city of 210,000, that’s a tremendous number of people. We at the Rochester Cycling Alliance are cheering that the Rochester community has these great trails for pedestrians and cyclists, and we’re cheering that so many are making good use of them. Keep it in mind next time you talk to elected officials and city/county/state employees: people use these trails, and expanding the trail network will bring even more users.

Weekly counts of pedestrians and cyclists using the Genesee River Trail near the Ford Street Bridge since October 2017. The total count (pedestrians + cyclists) is also plotted. A counter on the west branch was installed in September 2018.


This rich set of data tells many stories about the Riverway Trail. Usage varies with the weather, as you’d expect: many more people are on the trail in the summer months than in the winter. (But the count can’t be entirely accurate, because I personally biked the trail on the east side twice a day all winter, on my daily commute.) The east side supports more cyclists than pedestrians, except in winter, whereas the west side supports more pedestrians than cyclists.
To gather this data, GTC installed counters on both branches of the trail. As you can tell, the counter on the east branch was installed months before the counter on the west branch. The counters have infrared beams that are interrupted whenever anybody passes, indicating a trail user. The counters also have hollow rubber tubes across the trail, so that when passing cyclists run over the tubes, the counters can sense puffs of air. These counters are great for urban planning because they give us real information about trail use, so we can plan and advocate accordingly. Big thanks go to GTC for gathering the data–the counters are still there, and the counts are still running. We at RCA will be glad to share the data as it comes in.

Over 1000 ride with Bike to School Day

Here’s a great perspective on school.


Here’s exciting news for those of us who promote bikes and alternative transportation: more than 1000 people, including many community leaders, rode in Bike to School Day events at ten different Rochester-area schools on 9 May. Those events were among thousands nationwide, all held on the same day to promote biking and walking as great ways to get to school.
Biking to school has lots of benefits. At a time when childhood obesity continues to grow as one of our country’s greatest health risks, getting kids biking regularly can keep them in better physical health and form habits for a lifetime of good health. Biking is great for emotional and mental health, too. Biking builds community by allowing neighbors to get to know each other and see the impact schools have on neighborhoods. Biking is brilliant for sustainability because it burns no fossil fuels and emits no carbon dioxide. And of course, biking is fun–one student rider in Brighton said, “Biking to school is so much better than riding the bus!”
Bike to School Day rides took place all over the Rochester area this year. In the city of Rochester, School #23 drew 55 riders, and School #58 drew 50. In Honeoye Falls, Manor Intermediate School had 70 riders. In Pittsford, Calkins Road Middle School had 25 riders, Park Road Elementary School had 40, and Jefferson Road Elementary School had 150. In Brighton, Council Rock Primary School encouraged students to ride all week, French Road Elementary School had 240 riders on 9 May, and Twelve Corners Middle School had over 300. Finally, Indian Landing Elementary School in Penfield had nearly 300 riders.
Community leaders came out to support Bike to School Day in a big way. Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams of the Rochester City School District rode in the event at School #23 and invited her entire cabinet to ride along. Many did, including Carlos Cotto, RCSD Director of Physical Education. RCSD School Board President Van White joined the School #23 ride as well. Penfield Town Supervisor Tony LaFountain and Brighton Town Supervisor William Moehle both greeted students at the event at Indian Landing, along with Penfield School Board President Catherine Dean and School Board Member John Piper. Principals and teachers rode along at many of the events, too. We are grateful to our leaders for taking the time to support kids biking and walking to school!
More thanks go to the area police departments who accompanied riders to ensure traffic safety; to businesses and organizations that donated snacks or prizes, including Park Avenue Bikes, Wegmans, and Common Ground Health; to Zagster for providing Pace bikes, and to school staff who supported the events.
Over 1000 people rode last Wednesday and had a great time. Let’s capture the momentum to get more kids biking and walking to school in the Rochester area! Think about organizing a Bike to School Day event at your own school sometime soon. Organizing requires surprisingly little work, and those of us who’ve done it before would happily serve as resources, so send us an email. Help your own kids bike to school everyday. If the ride seems too much for them to handle alone, talk to neighbors about organizing a bike train: a group of five or ten kids can ride safely together with a couple of grownups to guide them. Ask teachers and school leaders to include bikes in the physical education curriculum if they aren’t already included. You can contact the New York Bicycling Coalition for a ready-made curriculum. And consider doing more of your own daily travel by walking or biking. One teacher in Honeoye Falls said, “I’ve started biking to school myself because I’ve seen your kids doing it.” There’s a great example to follow.