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Get on That Bicycle and Ride

In honor of National Bike Month, we’re sharing this super fun and inspiring music video made by Rochester Cycling Alliance volunteer Laura Mack, along with her sister and partner.

Maker’s Note

by Laura Mack

I have found that during this pandemic, there have been times when I really don’t want to do much of anything. In the morning, I roll out of bed to my bedside table which I have made into my makeshift work desk. I spend most of the work day locked in my bedroom to create a private and HIPPA compliant space so I can talk to my clients who have SPMI (Severe and Persistent Mental Illness). There are days when the emotional toll of my work day is hard to leave behind. Social media and those fighting back against what the experts have to say have made tuning everything out all the more difficult.

I’ve found the cure to cabin fever, a cure I have known all along but sometimes it takes reminding, is riding my bike. Whether it’s riding by a friends house as they’re sitting out on their porch, or heading to the local 7-11 or liquor store to get a beverage for dinner that night, those quick trips make all the difference in my day.

I’m not suggesting you ride 25 miles down to Avon on the Genesee Valley Trail, or ride from Buffalo to Albany on the Erie Canal. I am writing this as a gift to you, to dust off your bike and take it for a ride down the street. Whether you have the intention to swing by a friend’s house to say hi and pick up tomato plants, or to the 7-11 to pick up a six pack of beer, I promise the satisfaction of giving yourself some fresh air while doing something practical and time enhancing will make all the difference in your life.

Your bike does not, and I repeat, DOES NOT have to be in the most perfect shape. Make sure you can come to a complete stop at a stop sign and make sure you’ve got a little air in those tires. If you do not own a bike, lots of folks in our community are selling great ones on Facebook Marketplace. Ask questions and look for something you like.

Decrease your excuses to increase your joy.  I hope our music video will encourage you to get on that bicycle and ride!

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Something to Learn: Cycling as Transportation

by Jesse Peers, Cycling Coordinator at Reconnect Rochester

Journey from Car Driver to Bike Educator

In 2012, I was just as car-dependent as anybody when Mike Governale’s Rochester Subway blog and ROC Transit Day caught my attention. It was Reconnect’s creativity and ROC Transit Day’s great buzz that got me thinking about getting to work without my car. When my uncle gave me his old mountain bike around that time, I gave biking to work a shot. I discovered it was just as quick as driving, but I wasn’t very comfortable and stuck to the sidewalk.

“I wanted to be less frightened on my bike.”

Confession time: Just ask my parents – I’ve always been a risk-averse, shy, non-confrontational person. When you conjure up the mental image of a macho, super-confident cyclist, that wasn’t me! I wanted to be less frightened on my bike, so when I learned my friend Tracey Austin was teaching a two-hour bike class at the Rochester Brainery in 2013, I jumped at the opportunity.

Bike Education Built My Confidence

Tracey, who had been trained as a bike patrol officer through IPMB (International Police Mountain Bike), was very knowledgeable and reached her students where we were at. No question was off-limits or too stupid. After a brief slide presentation on traffic law and best practices, we headed outside. We learned how to inspect our bikes to ensure they’ll operate properly, and we spent 20 minutes or so learning basic handling maneuvers such as the quick stop. Then came the best part: We navigated Rochester’s streets together on our bikes.

It was a beautiful late August evening, and together we made left turns in left-turn-lanes (!), something I had never done before and would never have done by myself, if not for riding in a group. I recall biking across the Pont de Rennes Bridge for the first time with a gorgeous sunset transpiring before our eyes. It felt like we were Hogwarts students riding broomsticks around the city. When the class concluded, something in me had changed. I knew what the simple bike was capable of and I was now confident enough to bike on most streets. That fall, I started biking regularly.

Ditching the Car for Good

Three months after that class, I got rid of my car and haven’t had one since. I’m healthier, I’ve drastically reduced my carbon footprint, and I’m saving over $6,000 a year. In the intervening 6 years, I took two more intensive bike classes that exponentially increased my confidence and knowledge. And in 2017 I got certified myself (alongside some friends) as an LCI – a League Certified Instructor – through the League of American Bicyclists.

“I’m healthier, I’ve drastically reduced my carbon footprint, and I’m saving over $6,000 a year.”

If I Can Do It, Anyone Can Do It

I talk to so many people who say “You’ll never get me on a bike.” “No way will I ever ride among cars.” Listen, I totally get it. I’ve been there. I understand how scary it feels. It took a class for me to get comfortable on my bike and I suspect that’s the case for many.

If you consider yourself “interested-but-concerned” when it comes to biking (most people identify in this category), I urge you to take a class. It’s not boot camp. It’s fun, cheap and some of the best money you’ll ever spend.

This isn’t about “getting rid of your car.” This is about taking opportunities to bike. The low hanging fruit: the majority of car trips which are under 2 or 3 miles. As I said in a recent podcast interview, “We’d live in a different world if we saved our cars for long trips, when the weather is bad, or when there’s more than one occupant in the car. If we only biked for short solo trips in good weather, it would change everything.” And honestly, even if you only ever intend to bike on our beautiful river & canal trails away from traffic, you’ll still benefit from a class: You’ll get more comfortable on your bike and cycling will become more enjoyable.

“If we only we biked for short solo trips in good weather, it would change everything.”

Staying Safe is Mostly Up to You

Top-notch bike infrastructure that makes people of all ages and abilities comfortable absolutely has a place in getting more people on bikes. Reconnect Rochester and Rochester Cycling Alliance volunteers are relentless in advocating for that infrastructure.

But I fervently believe that bike education has a crucial role too. Infrastructure alone isn’t enough. Even if Rochester becomes the Copenhagen of North America, there will never be protected bike lanes from your doorstep to your destination. You are going to have to mix in with traffic some of the time. You’re operating a legal vehicle and need to not only know traffic law, but abide by best practices a certified instructor can teach you.

Keep your eye out on the Reconnect Rochester event calendar for bike education class opportunities, like the “Getting Back on Your Bike” virtual presentation I’ll be giving on April 25 for the Central Library. This summer, we hope to have a couple on-bike classes similar to the one I took in 2013. A typical intro class includes a classroom presentation, basic handling drills and a short group ride where we navigate various infrastructure and intersection scenarios together.

Final Two Words: Just Ride

Beyond bike education, I urge you to just ride. Rochester has a wonderful bike scene and there are weekly rides for people of all ages and skill levels that will resume when we get the thumbs-up from officials. Send me an email to subscribe to the RCA’s monthly news, to be apprised of upcoming classes and rides, or if you have any bike safety questions.

A recent study found that people who drive to work would much rather teleport if such a thing were possible. Cyclists, however, the study found, wouldn’t teleport – because they actually find empowerment and joy in the journey.

Montreal's world-class bike infrastructure

bikes at St. Joseph's

A cyclist enjoys visiting St. Joseph’s Oratorio in Montreal.


Just back from a vacation in Montreal, I’ll volunteer a report about the infrastructure of that admirably bike-friendly city. Montreal is easier to traverse by bike than any city I have ever visited, and appears to have more cyclists on its roads as well. Spending four days there, my wife and I saw nearly all the major sites, visiting every neighborhood in our guidebook — and more. We never used a car, or even the Metro, but logged 110 miles on our bikes. Montreal’s bike infrastructure works for a number of inter-dependent reasons.
First, Montreal has a critical mass of bike lanes and cycle paths — you can ride almost anywhere. On an island city, nearly every bridge has a cycle track, or is used solely for bikes and pedestrians. In a bustling metropolitan center, where construction is necessary, bike routes take detours instead of being blocked. Recreational routes through parks and along canals connect to commuter routes so well that the distinction becomes artificial. City festivals have large valet parking facilities for bikes.
Second, Montreal’s bike infrastructure is well-engineered and clearly marked. Bikes are kept separate from pedestrians, and often separate from cars as well. Major bike routes have cycle paths with a curb between bikes and cars; minor routes have painted bike lanes. Following the paths and lanes is straightforward because every intersection has a sign pointing the way to continuing and connecting bike routes. Many intersections have dedicated traffic lights for bikes. Detours for construction are marked well. The long downhill on Jacques-Cartier bridge has barriers that force descending cyclists to swerve — and therefore slow to a safe speed.
Complicated intersections show evidence of particularly careful thought. Where rue Rachel crosses rue Berri, the cycle track on the west side of rue Rachel turns, continuing on the south side of rue Berri, so cyclists face the difficult maneuver of crossing every lane of auto traffic. To help, bike-specific stoplights usher them across one street, then the other. A large paved area is blocked off at the corner in between, giving cyclists a safe place to wait for the light.
Finally, the cycling experience is so much safer and more pleasant on cycle paths and bike lanes that cycling two or three blocks out of your way is worth the trouble. This further separates bikes from cars, and makes transit safer for everybody: major car thoroughfares are not major bike thoroughfares, but both sets of city arteries are extensive enough and close enough to go where people need. Optimizing every road for both cars and bikes is by definition impossible; by splitting the roads, traffic engineers can optimize for cars where necessary, and bikes everywhere else.
After all this praise for Montreal’s bike infrastructure, I have some questions, too, which I’ll address in my next an upcoming post.

Greentopia and Bike Corral: Big Hit!

We hit a new plateau of public service last week with the RCA Bike Corral at Greentopia.  Many scores of cyclists visited, parked their bikes, and had their pictures taken (and their bikes memorialized for security purposes) and got to enjoy Greentopia confident that their bikes were in good company.
We met many people, and have already begun enjoying the consequences.
For example, one visitor was pointed to some city officials and within days a rough patch of trail was improved.
More to come….
 

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No Kidding!!! Business Week: Los Angeles plans to spend $230 million on 1,700 miles of bicycle paths

SPECIAL REPORT June 3, 2010, 3:09PM EST
Fighting Carbon Emissions: Cities Take the Lead
From Los Angeles to Amsterdam, city hall is becoming the best hope for climate action
By Mark Scott and Jeremy van Loon
Los Angeles: city of freeways, smog, and…bike lanes? That’s where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to take his town. In one of the less likely
transformations in the global effort to cut carbon dioxide emissions, Los Angeles plans to spend $230 million on 1,700 miles of bicycle paths. Most of the
program will be completed by 2015 and includes changing rooms, showers, and bike storage areas operated by the city and private partners. It comes on
top of subsidies for installing solar panels and incentives for planting trees and switching to electric vehicles. “We have to make a change,” says Michelle
Mowery, senior coordinator for the bike program. “We can’t fit any more cars in.”
From the freeways of Los Angeles to the canals of Amsterdam, cities are taking the lead in the fight to reduce carbon output.

As world leaders squabble
over how to cut greenhouse gases, city hall is becoming the best hope for climate action. Given their smaller jurisdictions, local officials can green-light
eco-projects faster than nationwide schemes can be implemented. “We’re not going to wait for national politicians, we’re acting right now,” says Toronto
Mayor David Miller, who plans to invest more than $1 billion in public transport and eco-friendly air-conditioning systems for buildings by 2017.
The efforts could have a profound impact: Cities are home to more than half the world’s population and pump out more than two-thirds of global carbon
dioxide. That share will surely grow as people flock to megacities in the developing world. “It’s obvious where the fight for a sustainable civilization will be
decided, and that’s in large cities,” says Peter Loescher, chief executive officer of Siemens (SI), which aims to profit from selling its streetcars, wind
turbines, and other technologies to municipalities worldwide.
Just as no two cities are alike, there are vast differences in local strategies. In Toyko 68 percent of trips are already made by bike, subway, or on foot.
Houston residents, by contrast, make 95 percent of their journeys by car. So while the Texas city is giving officials electric vehicles to reduce emissions,
the Japanese capital in April announced a citywide CO2 cap-and-trade program—the kind the U.S. Senate has been unable to pass so far. Copenhagen
will spend $1.6 billion by 2012 on bike paths, green energy projects, and retrofitting city buildings. Melbourne plans to bar cars from downtown and offer
incentives to developers who invest in efficiency. “It’s a green gold rush,” says Robert Doyle, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor.
In Amsterdam, city elders are in the midst of a five-year, $1 billion program to improve creaking infrastructure. Amsterdam’s 2,400 houseboats have been
fitted to use electricity instead of diesel, and cargo barges are now being converted as well. Some 300 homes are testing display panels that show energy usage in real time, a program that may be expanded citywide. If residents can be persuaded to use the technology to cut power use at peak times, their
electricity bills could fall by up to 40 percent, says Ger Baron, who oversees the project. “Our biggest challenge is changing people’s habits,” he says.
New York, meanwhile, has laid out a program called “PlaNYC.” The scheme includes tax breaks for solar panels, legal changes that spur property owners
to make buildings more energy-efficient, and power plants that use food waste and wood chips. Though a proposal to charge a congestion fee for drivers
entering much of Manhattan couldn’t pass the state legislature, the Big Apple hopes to quadruple its 450 miles of bicycle paths by 2030. New York’s plan
has even sparked envy on the West Coast. “Los Angeles isn’t New York,” says L.A. cycling chief Mowery. “But we’re getting there.”
The bottom line: As national governments fail to cut carbon, cities are starting to take the initiative with programs aimed at reining in emissions.
With Stuart Biggs. Scott is a correspondent in Bloomberg Businessweek’s London bureau. Van Loon is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

The times,they are a changing: Posted by Scott MacRae

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No Kidding!!! Business Week: Los Angeles plans to spend $230 million on 1,700 miles of bicycle paths

SPECIAL REPORT June 3, 2010, 3:09PM EST
Fighting Carbon Emissions: Cities Take the Lead
From Los Angeles to Amsterdam, city hall is becoming the best hope for climate action
By Mark Scott and Jeremy van Loon
Los Angeles: city of freeways, smog, and…bike lanes? That’s where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to take his town. In one of the less likely
transformations in the global effort to cut carbon dioxide emissions, Los Angeles plans to spend $230 million on 1,700 miles of bicycle paths. Most of the
program will be completed by 2015 and includes changing rooms, showers, and bike storage areas operated by the city and private partners. It comes on
top of subsidies for installing solar panels and incentives for planting trees and switching to electric vehicles. “We have to make a change,” says Michelle
Mowery, senior coordinator for the bike program. “We can’t fit any more cars in.”
From the freeways of Los Angeles to the canals of Amsterdam, cities are taking the lead in the fight to reduce carbon output.

As world leaders squabble
over how to cut greenhouse gases, city hall is becoming the best hope for climate action. Given their smaller jurisdictions, local officials can green-light
eco-projects faster than nationwide schemes can be implemented. “We’re not going to wait for national politicians, we’re acting right now,” says Toronto
Mayor David Miller, who plans to invest more than $1 billion in public transport and eco-friendly air-conditioning systems for buildings by 2017.
The efforts could have a profound impact: Cities are home to more than half the world’s population and pump out more than two-thirds of global carbon
dioxide. That share will surely grow as people flock to megacities in the developing world. “It’s obvious where the fight for a sustainable civilization will be
decided, and that’s in large cities,” says Peter Loescher, chief executive officer of Siemens (SI), which aims to profit from selling its streetcars, wind
turbines, and other technologies to municipalities worldwide.
Just as no two cities are alike, there are vast differences in local strategies. In Toyko 68 percent of trips are already made by bike, subway, or on foot.
Houston residents, by contrast, make 95 percent of their journeys by car. So while the Texas city is giving officials electric vehicles to reduce emissions,
the Japanese capital in April announced a citywide CO2 cap-and-trade program—the kind the U.S. Senate has been unable to pass so far. Copenhagen
will spend $1.6 billion by 2012 on bike paths, green energy projects, and retrofitting city buildings. Melbourne plans to bar cars from downtown and offer
incentives to developers who invest in efficiency. “It’s a green gold rush,” says Robert Doyle, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor.
In Amsterdam, city elders are in the midst of a five-year, $1 billion program to improve creaking infrastructure. Amsterdam’s 2,400 houseboats have been
fitted to use electricity instead of diesel, and cargo barges are now being converted as well. Some 300 homes are testing display panels that show energy usage in real time, a program that may be expanded citywide. If residents can be persuaded to use the technology to cut power use at peak times, their
electricity bills could fall by up to 40 percent, says Ger Baron, who oversees the project. “Our biggest challenge is changing people’s habits,” he says.
New York, meanwhile, has laid out a program called “PlaNYC.” The scheme includes tax breaks for solar panels, legal changes that spur property owners
to make buildings more energy-efficient, and power plants that use food waste and wood chips. Though a proposal to charge a congestion fee for drivers
entering much of Manhattan couldn’t pass the state legislature, the Big Apple hopes to quadruple its 450 miles of bicycle paths by 2030. New York’s plan
has even sparked envy on the West Coast. “Los Angeles isn’t New York,” says L.A. cycling chief Mowery. “But we’re getting there.”
The bottom line: As national governments fail to cut carbon, cities are starting to take the initiative with programs aimed at reining in emissions.
With Stuart Biggs. Scott is a correspondent in Bloomberg Businessweek’s London bureau. Van Loon is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

The times,they are a changing: Posted by Scott MacRae

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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

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