Shifting Gears: Promoting Rochester's Two-Wheeled Revolution

Introducing the most amazing final publication from the Genesee School 6th graders.
Shifting Gears: Promoting Rochester’s Two-Wheeled Revolution!
A Project of the
Genesee Community Charter School
Sixth Grade Class of 2013
Read the entire report here, find out how these students disprove the 11 myths of bicycling in Rochester, and most importantly join in on promoting Rochester’s Two-Wheeled Revolution!

Advocacy Advance Action 2020 Workshop

On October 17, the RCA-sponsored Advocacy Advance Action 2020 Workshop helped over 40 advocates, agency staff and elected officials to brainstorm local strategies for increasing bicycle and pedestrian programs and projects in the region.   Many thanks to Brighid O’Keane, of the Alliance for Biking & Walking and to Darren Flusche of the League of American Bicyclists who provided such wonderful guidance.  The following note comes to us from them.  

Now it’s our turn to carry the momentum forward!


There were two exciting announcements at the workshop. First, Rochester was awarded Bronze-level status from the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community program – the only city in the state other than NYC to receive a BFC designation. Second, the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency announced the much-anticipated Transportation Specialist position, funded by the Center for Disease Control. This position focuses on engaging, organizing and educating the community to achieve public policy and practice changes that promote active transportation in Monroe County.  Click here for more information about the position and application process.
Here is the list of local priorities that were developed at the workshop. The Rochester Funding Profile and slides from the presentation can be downloaded from the Advocacy Advance website. Click the links below for additional Advocacy Advance resources:

On Monday, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued an interim guidance to state departments of transportation on the Transportation Alternatives program (TA). The guidance provides specifics for state agencies and resolves any ambiguities in the complex legislative language. Read more about the good and bad news for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Thank you again to the workshop hosts:
City of Rochester, contact: Erik Frisch
Genesee Transportation Council, contact: Rich Perrin
Rochester Cycling Alliance, contact: Scott McRae
Senator Kristen Gillibrand, contact: Sarah Clark
We encourage you to continue collaborating with workshop participants. Contact the Rochester Cycling Alliance for additional notes from the workshop and to get involved in local advocacy efforts. To learn about your important role in New York’s Navigating MAP-21 state campaign, contact Brian Kehoe, Executive Director of the New York Bicycling Coalition.
Thank you from the Advocacy Advance Team:
Brighid O’Keane, Alliance for Biking & Walking
Darren Flusche,   League of American Bicyclists

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Getting the word out

Mostly, I just wanted to hightlight the GRATS idea with the article below that I have posted in various venues–and to mention that I hope the next meeting of the RCA includes some time devoted to communications–getting the word out about RCA’s mission alternative transporation as a real option in our area.

So, here’s the article:

Rochester bike commuting, the tipping point

Remember when you were a kid and used to watch water drops form? You’d stare at a point where a water drop was building, then after a while a tipping point would be reached and the drop would, well…, drop. Magic didn’t cause it; it was physics and surface tension and (not to bore you) things were building up.

Something like that is occurring in Rochester, NY on alternative transportation. Things are building up. 1. The public’s desire to do something about Climate Change. 2. Rochester, NY’s location at the confluence of several major off-road trails. 3. Many influential organizations willing to work together to solve the transportation conundrum facing us. 4. A five-mile direct trail from Rochester Institute of Technology, Genesee Valley Park, the University of Rochester, and downtown Rochester. All of this is coming together in a new concept by Professor Jon Schull, interim Director, Center for Student Innovation at Rochester institute of Technology. The concept is called GRATS: Greater Rochester Active Transportation System.

Here’s the skinny on the GRATS project: “Rochester has an enviable network of bikeable and walkable trails and boulevards that connect neighborhoods, campuses, and natural attractions. Connect the dots and a few gaps, and give Rochesterians, visitors and businesses new options for local travel, regional recreation, and economic development. With intermodal links to bus stations, train stations, waterways and airports, GRATS gives us a sustainable transportation system. Over half of our trips are under 5 miles. Why not bike? Why not walk? HELP MAKE GRATS A REALITY.” GRATS.

What’s compelling about GRATS is the map. Instead of the usual busy road/bike map, you see a lean, instantly comprehensible grid that conveniently intersects our community north, south, east, and west. You spot your house, your job, or your local grocer and you see how close you are to GRATS. You and GRATS will get you to those important short distances without polluting the planet or costing you an arm or a leg.

Of course, there will be much resistance to the kind of changes needed to seriously change direction on transportation and mitigate its effect on our environment. Some resistance will come from those of us disinclined to change our driving habits. It’s convenient to simply hop or jump into our car and buzz down the road. But the personal fossil fuel vehicle is expensive. The sticker price is only a fraction of the cost of a car. You have to ask yourself: How much did your vehicles cost? The second car? How much does it cost to run it? How much of your taxes go for the upkeep of the infrastructure for your vehicle? How much for insurance? How much do you pay to park? Repairs? Inspection? Insurance? Accidents and deaths? How many jobs do you work to pay for your vehicle? Subsidies to the oil industry? What if gasoline prices start to reflect their true cost—some say $10 per gallon?

More resistance will come from the car and fossil fuel industries. They’ll feel threatened by a public willing to forgo the car for the bike, though that’s a great big hypocrisy: When you’re an employee and your job is being replaced by outsourcing or by new technology, they tell you to get over it. Get retrained and deal with it. But if you are an industry that pollutes and compromises our environment, they don’t succumb to reason and deal with it, they hire lawyers to fight it. They spend a zillion bucks on advertizing and influence peddling to convince you and your representatives that life without a car is unthinkable.

So, what’s the tipping point? What will it take for us to adopt an alternative transportation system like GRATS? What about bicycling in winter? What about getting sweaty and going to work? What about bike storage? The answer is: The tipping point is you. Get involved. Go to Rochester Cycling Alliance and chime in.

2 Comments

Getting the word out

Mostly, I just wanted to hightlight the GRATS idea with the article below that I have posted in various venues–and to mention that I hope the next meeting of the RCA includes some time devoted to communications–getting the word out about RCA’s mission alternative transporation as a real option in our area.

So, here’s the article:

Rochester bike commuting, the tipping point

Remember when you were a kid and used to watch water drops form? You’d stare at a point where a water drop was building, then after a while a tipping point would be reached and the drop would, well…, drop. Magic didn’t cause it; it was physics and surface tension and (not to bore you) things were building up.

Something like that is occurring in Rochester, NY on alternative transportation. Things are building up. 1. The public’s desire to do something about Climate Change. 2. Rochester, NY’s location at the confluence of several major off-road trails. 3. Many influential organizations willing to work together to solve the transportation conundrum facing us. 4. A five-mile direct trail from Rochester Institute of Technology, Genesee Valley Park, the University of Rochester, and downtown Rochester. All of this is coming together in a new concept by Professor Jon Schull, interim Director, Center for Student Innovation at Rochester institute of Technology. The concept is called GRATS: Greater Rochester Active Transportation System.

Here’s the skinny on the GRATS project: “Rochester has an enviable network of bikeable and walkable trails and boulevards that connect neighborhoods, campuses, and natural attractions. Connect the dots and a few gaps, and give Rochesterians, visitors and businesses new options for local travel, regional recreation, and economic development. With intermodal links to bus stations, train stations, waterways and airports, GRATS gives us a sustainable transportation system. Over half of our trips are under 5 miles. Why not bike? Why not walk? HELP MAKE GRATS A REALITY.” GRATS.

What’s compelling about GRATS is the map. Instead of the usual busy road/bike map, you see a lean, instantly comprehensible grid that conveniently intersects our community north, south, east, and west. You spot your house, your job, or your local grocer and you see how close you are to GRATS. You and GRATS will get you to those important short distances without polluting the planet or costing you an arm or a leg.

Of course, there will be much resistance to the kind of changes needed to seriously change direction on transportation and mitigate its effect on our environment. Some resistance will come from those of us disinclined to change our driving habits. It’s convenient to simply hop or jump into our car and buzz down the road. But the personal fossil fuel vehicle is expensive. The sticker price is only a fraction of the cost of a car. You have to ask yourself: How much did your vehicles cost? The second car? How much does it cost to run it? How much of your taxes go for the upkeep of the infrastructure for your vehicle? How much for insurance? How much do you pay to park? Repairs? Inspection? Insurance? Accidents and deaths? How many jobs do you work to pay for your vehicle? Subsidies to the oil industry? What if gasoline prices start to reflect their true cost—some say $10 per gallon?

More resistance will come from the car and fossil fuel industries. They’ll feel threatened by a public willing to forgo the car for the bike, though that’s a great big hypocrisy: When you’re an employee and your job is being replaced by outsourcing or by new technology, they tell you to get over it. Get retrained and deal with it. But if you are an industry that pollutes and compromises our environment, they don’t succumb to reason and deal with it, they hire lawyers to fight it. They spend a zillion bucks on advertizing and influence peddling to convince you and your representatives that life without a car is unthinkable.

So, what’s the tipping point? What will it take for us to adopt an alternative transportation system like GRATS? What about bicycling in winter? What about getting sweaty and going to work? What about bike storage? The answer is: The tipping point is you. Get involved. Go to Rochester Cycling Alliance and chime in.

No Comments

Beyond The Motor City Screening Monday, June 28th Dryden Theater George Eastman House 7pm Open to Public

Below please find info about a free documentary screening at the George Eastman House’s Dryden Theater on Monday, June 28. This film and the panel discussion that follows will address issues pivotal to the future of our region. This is a film about the past and future of transportation. Info requests to RRCDC phone 271 0520.

We hope you can attend the screening and panel discussion on June 28. Please forward and post to your Facebooks, Twitters, etc. etc. etc.!

Evan Lowenstein
Empire State Future (www.empirestatefuture.org)

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Beyond The Motor City Screening Monday, June 28th Dryden Theater George Eastman House 7pm Open to Public

Below please find info about a free documentary screening at the George Eastman House’s Dryden Theater on Monday, June 28. This film and the panel discussion that follows will address issues pivotal to the future of our region. This is a film about the past and future of transportation. Info requests to RRCDC phone 271 0520.

We hope you can attend the screening and panel discussion on June 28. Please forward and post to your Facebooks, Twitters, etc. etc. etc.!

Evan Lowenstein
Empire State Future (www.empirestatefuture.org)

No Comments

Rochester Bicycle Master Plan

The first “pre kick off” meeting of the Advisory Committee met on Friday. RCA members Andrew Dollard, Bill Collins, Richard DeSarra also representing Rochester Bicycle Club and myself (representing U. of R.) as well as others, were there as well as city representatives Chuck Thomas, Steve Beauvaias, Pete Siegrest and Erik Frisch. Scott Leathersich represented Monroe County and a proxy GTC rep was there.

This meeting was to prepare for the outside national bicycle planning/consultanting group Sprinkle from Tampa, Fl. who will be coming the week of May 24-28th to do their preliminary assessment. This visit will overlap with bike week and we are planning to see if we can get Mayor Duffy and Sprinkle to participate in some of our Bike Week activities. The details of this need to be worked out but it looks encouraging that this will fall into place. Local firms ERD a landscape design and engineering company as well SRF, which offers expertise in transportation planning, pedestrian and bicycle safety, traffic calming ect. will be assisting Sprinkle. They want to do this plan expeditiously in 8 months since all parties are eager to move forward because of potential funding opportunities.

We discussed a variety of issues which need to be addressed by the master plan including how to meter progress, weather, representation of low income groups and the format of the upcoming meetings. Overall everyone involved seems committed to making a difference in making Rochester a more bike friendly town. More later.

Scott

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Rochester Bicycle Master Plan

The first “pre kick off” meeting of the Advisory Committee met on Friday. RCA members Andrew Dollard, Bill Collins, Richard DeSarra also representing Rochester Bicycle Club and myself (representing U. of R.) as well as others, were there as well as city representatives Chuck Thomas, Steve Beauvaias, Pete Siegrest and Erik Frisch. Scott Leathersich represented Monroe County and a proxy GTC rep was there.

This meeting was to prepare for the outside national bicycle planning/consultanting group Sprinkle from Tampa, Fl. who will be coming the week of May 24-28th to do their preliminary assessment. This visit will overlap with bike week and we are planning to see if we can get Mayor Duffy and Sprinkle to participate in some of our Bike Week activities. The details of this need to be worked out but it looks encouraging that this will fall into place. Local firms ERD a landscape design and engineering company as well SRF, which offers expertise in transportation planning, pedestrian and bicycle safety, traffic calming ect. will be assisting Sprinkle. They want to do this plan expeditiously in 8 months since all parties are eager to move forward because of potential funding opportunities.

We discussed a variety of issues which need to be addressed by the master plan including how to meter progress, weather, representation of low income groups and the format of the upcoming meetings. Overall everyone involved seems committed to making a difference in making Rochester a more bike friendly town. More later.

Scott

No Comments

Google Maps – Bikes Is Working & Responding To Route Recommendation

Google maps bikes is now up, working and responding to suggestins. It is in beta testing so they are continuously refining things and encourage us to critique thier suggested routes. I’d encourage you to use it and post your favorite cycling routes to work, schools shopping etc. This can be a powerful tool to direct cyclists to the safest routes. It automatically takes into consideration things like hills ect to make it easier for cyclists. Here is my experience as an example:

I checked out a route my wife wanted to take for a bike trip from Park Ave. to Pittsford and it suggested she go down Monroe Ave directly which was the most direct by car but not the safest.

I typed in an alternative route down Clover using the bike lane and then to the Erie Canal and East as a safer alternative. A week later Google responded with this message. Very cool!

Hi scott, Your Google Maps problem report has been reviewed, and you were right!
We’ll update the map soon and email you when you can see the change.

Report historyProblem ID: EDE2-41E3-816A-096AYour report: I would suggest that one continue South on Clover even though this is not the greatest road, it has a 4-5 foot bike lane and certainly better than Monroe Ave which is a 4 lane road with no bike lanes. I would continue south and then pick up the Erie Canal trail and take a left which would lead me into into the town of Pittsford without the danger of Monroe Ave which is a mess and dangerous especially south of Clover where it turns into 5 lanes, has lots of stores and cars turning without remotely considering cyclists or pedestrians. Scott MacRae Rochester Cycling Alliance

–Thanks for your help,The Google Maps team

Check it out by going to Google Maps and then click on the “More” icon in the upper right hand corner of the screen, then click “bicycling” and it will give you a preferred route. If enought of us refine the routes, it should be very handy for folks with time. The system learns by our direct feedback.

No Comments

Google Maps – Bikes Is Working & Responding To Route Recommendation

Google maps bikes is now up, working and responding to suggestins. It is in beta testing so they are continuously refining things and encourage us to critique thier suggested routes. I’d encourage you to use it and post your favorite cycling routes to work, schools shopping etc. This can be a powerful tool to direct cyclists to the safest routes. It automatically takes into consideration things like hills ect to make it easier for cyclists. Here is my experience as an example:

I checked out a route my wife wanted to take for a bike trip from Park Ave. to Pittsford and it suggested she go down Monroe Ave directly which was the most direct by car but not the safest.

I typed in an alternative route down Clover using the bike lane and then to the Erie Canal and East as a safer alternative. A week later Google responded with this message. Very cool!

Hi scott, Your Google Maps problem report has been reviewed, and you were right!
We’ll update the map soon and email you when you can see the change.

Report historyProblem ID: EDE2-41E3-816A-096AYour report: I would suggest that one continue South on Clover even though this is not the greatest road, it has a 4-5 foot bike lane and certainly better than Monroe Ave which is a 4 lane road with no bike lanes. I would continue south and then pick up the Erie Canal trail and take a left which would lead me into into the town of Pittsford without the danger of Monroe Ave which is a mess and dangerous especially south of Clover where it turns into 5 lanes, has lots of stores and cars turning without remotely considering cyclists or pedestrians. Scott MacRae Rochester Cycling Alliance

–Thanks for your help,The Google Maps team

Check it out by going to Google Maps and then click on the “More” icon in the upper right hand corner of the screen, then click “bicycling” and it will give you a preferred route. If enought of us refine the routes, it should be very handy for folks with time. The system learns by our direct feedback.

No Comments

Sustainability Mobility Fair – May 8th Free expo

“Sustainability Mobility Fair – Future Transportation Choices for Short Trips”
Admission is free and open to the public.

When: Saturday, May 8, 2010 from 10:AM – 2 PM
Where: The Center for Student Innovation at RIT, 1 Lomb Memorial Dr Rochester, NY 14623-5698

Attendees will be exposed to what is new and now available on the market and able to experience the latest choices in Electric, Hydrogen, Biodiesel, Natural Gas, Propane, Hybrid, Plug-In, Ethanol, Walking School Buses, and cycling transportation technologies.

All alternative fuel options will be on display. As more commuters become aware of travel choices, we expect to see more of them regularly choosing transportation alternatives because of the benefits. Sponsored by Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the Center for Environmental Information (CEI).

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Sustainability Mobility Fair – May 8th FREE

“Sustainability Mobility Fair – Future Transportation Choices for Short Trips”
Admission is free and open to the public.

When: Saturday, May 8, 2010 from 10:AM – 2 PM
Where: The Center for Student Innovation at RIT, 1 Lomb Memorial Dr Rochester, NY 14623-5698

Attendees will be exposed to what is new and now available on the market and able to experience the latest choices in Electric, Hydrogen, Biodiesel, Natural Gas, Propane, Hybrid, Plug-In, Ethanol, Walking School Buses, and cycling transportation technologies.

All alternative fuel options will be on display. As more commuters become aware of travel choices, we expect to see more of them regularly choosing transportation alternatives because of the benefits. Sponsored by Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the Center for Environmental Information (CEI).

For more information and directions, surf over to ceinfo.org or http://www.rochesterenvironment.com/SMF.html

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Sustainability Mobility Fair – May 8th FREE

“Sustainability Mobility Fair – Future Transportation Choices for Short Trips”
Admission is free and open to the public.

When: Saturday, May 8, 2010 from 10:AM – 2 PM
Where: The Center for Student Innovation at RIT, 1 Lomb Memorial Dr Rochester, NY 14623-5698

Attendees will be exposed to what is new and now available on the market and able to experience the latest choices in Electric, Hydrogen, Biodiesel, Natural Gas, Propane, Hybrid, Plug-In, Ethanol, Walking School Buses, and cycling transportation technologies.

All alternative fuel options will be on display. As more commuters become aware of travel choices, we expect to see more of them regularly choosing transportation alternatives because of the benefits. Sponsored by Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the Center for Environmental Information (CEI).

For more information and directions, surf over to ceinfo.org or http://www.rochesterenvironment.com/SMF.html

No Comments

Behold the Bike!

Few inventions have the efficiency, health benefits, affordability, urban design potential, safety features and environmental friendliness of the modern bike. It’s not your grandmother’s bicycle; it’s a revolutionary component in our future transportation portfolio. There have been bikes. There will be bikes.

Bikes started as glorified hobby horses (the walking machine), then got pedals (the velocipede or boneshaker), then rose up and sped up (the high wheel bicycle), then began settling down for speed and safety (the hard-tired safety), and now they are fast, sleek and efficient. It was a long (and sometime dangerous) haul; and, if you are quick about it, you can see the entire history of bicycles at the Pedaling History Bicycle Museum in Orchard Park, NY before it closes. (If enough visitors go, maybe it won’t close.) [http://www.pedalinghistory.com/]

Now, in many modern urban communities the bicycle is more than an old contraption made new and glorified by bike clubs and enthusiasts. Bicycles are not simply hangers-on, like horse-riding or Model T driving on Sunday. Bicycles are becoming an integral part of planned transportation systems throughout the country. Note how cities like Portland, Oregon and Boulder, Colorado are retrofitting their vehicle-dominated streets into bike boulevards (BTA: Bicycle Boulevards Campaign) where commuters and even kids off to school can get to their destinations year-round and safely.

Year-round and safely? In New York State? In the rain, the snow, heavy traffic, though the mud, across busy bridges, to grandmother’s house and still be presentable?

Become a believer. When more people bike more drivers accept them on our streets—which, of course, they have every right to be. In official studies: under 6.5 miles, the public prefers bicycling over mass transit. Bicycling produces zero greenhouse gas emissions, has relatively inexpensive repair bills, and because of the soaring cost of road and bridge maintenance our regional planners consider bicycles a serious component of our future transportation.

If we make our streets more bike accessible, protect bicyclists from fast-moving traffic, create innovative all-weather bike corridors, [http://rochestergreenway.org/]and provide convenient and comprehensive bike parking, the public will bike. Already, many cities have found a way to bicycle-friendly their streets, not because it is trendy, but because there is no faster, more efficient, environmentally and urban-friendlier way to get around than the bike. [http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/communities/]

Too expensive, too radical, too dangerous, too slow, and just too much darn trouble? As opposed to what? Billions of dollars on maintaining our existing vehicular dominated streets? An obese society that spends zillions of bucks for insurance, parking, fuel, repairs, and the vehicles’ price (the ‘Clunkers for Cash’ program is drying up)?

The real impediment to creating a Rochester, New York that moves around in massive numbers on bicycles and renews our sense of community from our too expensive isolation tanks is Attitude. Everything else is there, the technology, the know-how, and the vivid examples of bike/transportation modes across the spectrum of world cities. Behold a healthier lifestyle.

Frank J. Regan [RochesterEnvironment.com]

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Another Affiliation

People are talking. Excitement builds. The Rochester Greenway is entering a new phase: a steering group (maybe, the “The Rochester Greenway Steering Group”) who will be focusing on moving the project from conceptual stage to something more concrete—or macadam, or plastic, or a new composite altogether. At this point, interested groups are offering their time to see this unique concept get funding through grants, get endorsements from various groups, and provide presentations of this all-weather, carbon-free transportation system.

“I just want to point out to you that this isn’t just about biking. This is truly about a grander purpose happening here. I would just urge you to think about what you want to do. I think it’s important to consider options for the future.”

“There is an opportunity for capitalizing on new materials and ideas and how this will relate to communities. We want to have a plan for some type of sustainable plan in the longer term sense. I think that we should also get students from other regions interested from other campuses. There are many things, which could be woven into the goals. There
is great potential here.”

“This could be a steering group for a future Charrette meeting. There is a reality about a certain threshold for numbers of people working together. I think you bring up
a good point that we should all be in contact with each-other. We should also think about people in the working group. I think it’s very important that there would be a shared vision going in multiple directions. I think we should think of ourselves as being a Greenway Steering group.”

People are talking.

More to come: