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Biking My Kids Around Town

By: Chaz Goodman

I adore biking. I have always preferred it to driving. I spent most of my adult life car-free or car-lite until my wife and I had kids. Then I started driving all the time to take them to daycare because I didn’t feel safe traveling with my infant on a bicycle. After a few years, they were toddlers and I finally felt comfortable returning to bicycle commuting.

I opted to transport them in a Burley Bee bike trailer so my kids could sit side by side instead of adding seats to my bike and potentially putting too much weight on the bike frame itself. It’s lightweight, user-friendly, and comfortable to use. I did worry about visibility because the trailer is low to the ground so I got two flags to put on the trailer. They are bright orange with high visibility reflective stripes.

I took my kids on a few practice rides and words cannot express the joy I felt sharing the bicycle experience with them. On a sunny day, you don’t need to roll your windows down to enjoy the weather because you’re already outside. We say hi to our neighbors. We hear kids playing. We can observe the flowers and gardens by peoples homes. We are a part of our environment.

The other day I heard my son in the trailer saying, “Happy. Sad. Mad. Mad. Sad. Happy. Sad.” and I realized he was observing the facial expressions of people in their cars. He said sad and mad a lot and it got me thinking about how dehumanizing it is to be stuck in a car. If someone cuts you off, you feel rage. You don’t think about them as a person. You just see the big machines that you both have to operate. You’re angry because you could have easily been hurt. Driving is a very high stakes activity. 

This is especially clear when we see the remnants of car crashes, which are everywhere. Crashes are cleaned up quickly to keep traffic flowing. You don’t really notice the evidence when you drive by but it’s easy to see the bits of broken window and smaller plastic bits when you’re on a bicycle. Being on a bicycle is a constant reminder of how we have normalized road violence with a street design that prioritizes speed above all else. 

With this in mind, I worked out the best route to bike to daycare. Fortunately I could bypass Monroe Avenue (which in Brighton is a high speed, four lane stroad) by cutting through neighborhood streets. From there I went on the sidewalk on Elmwood Avenue. I am thrilled that the town of Brighton added a bike lane to Elmwood Avenue. When I bike on my own, I use it often. I just don’t like it with my little boys in a trailer. Ironically I had spent some time defending this bike lane on NextDoor neighborhood threads. I’m happy we have it, I’m just eager to keep improving bicycle access.

The final part of the journey is the one my wife and I spent the most time discussing and the part of the journey that makes me the most nervous. It is such a small yet very significant part of the journey. Just a couple hundred feet.

It involves crossing South Clinton Avenue at Elmwood. Intersections create a lot of variables. I have had minimal incidents and only two collisions in more than ten years of biking by assuming a driver doesn’t see me until I see eye contact or a signal from them. I have yielded several times despite having the right of way and I’m almost always correct that the driver did not see me. Sometimes they notice at the last second and seem startled or give an “I’m sorry” wave.

I am more annoyed with the road designs than the driver. I would like to see our roads designed with protected bike lanes and traffic calming measures to make it impossible to drive recklessly as opposed to relying on drivers to make the correct choice.

Still, it has been a transformative experience for me as a parent. My boys love the bike trailer. The first day I dropped my 3 year old off at his classroom a few kids wanted to know why he had a helmet. He proudly told them he got there in a bike trailer. The kids started excitedly talking about their bicycles and their helmets that they have at home. 

I rode him in the rain the next day. The Burley trailer has a great rain cover so he doesn’t get a drop of water on him. I have a good raincoat and I change my pants at work so it’s no big deal for me either. My brother who lives in the Netherlands says the parents there like to say, “Are you made of sugar? Why are you scared of a little water?”

Other parents at the daycare frequently comment on the trailer when we roll in. Some of them say “that loks nice!” or “I wish we could do that!” I’ve even shared bike trailer suggestions and safe route recommendations with other determined parents.

That’s what is so incredible about bicycle activism. I can talk about it for hours (and have!) but it doesn’t often resonate the same way as just witnessing the joy of little kids experiencing their community, or starting your day with an active outdoor experience rather than sitting in an expensive, noisy, isolated metal box. As I’ve seen from the last few months of biking my kids to daycare, the interest is there but most people just don’t think about it.

I firmly believe we should do anything we can to encourage parents to bike their kids to get around. It would even make things more pleasant for drivers since every bicycle is another car off the road thereby reducing traffic.

If we keep developing a comprehensive bicycle network we could reduce road deaths, create a more trusting and open community, reduce our environmental damage and even give parents a break from driving their kids everywhere when they get older and start activities and clubs. Imagine a bicycle network where 8 and 9 year olds could safely bike to and from school without adults. It’s possible and these communities exist. That could be us too. If we want it.


At Reconnect, we’re inspired by the stories of people in our community, like Chaz Goodman, Robert Picciotti and Yamini Karandikar, who are passionate about living a car-lite or car-free lifestyle. 

Let us know if you want to share your mobility story! What’s in it for you? The intrinsic reward of knowing you’ve inspired others, and a free t-shirt from our online shopContact Jahasia to submit your story. 

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Mind the Gap, Season Three!

Well the peak biking season is upon us! That means it’s time for our annual Mind the Gap campaign! The Rochester area has seen an investment in bike infrastructure over the last dozen years, but often these investments are piecemeal and disconnected, thus of limited use to the average person on a bike.

Unite the scattered bike lanes.

This voting campaign is all about Reconnect Rochester’s push to connect investments. So we’re once again asking you, our audience: What obvious gaps in our bike network, if filled, would have the largest connectivity value for the greatest number of (current and would-be) riders?

The winning vote-getter in 2022 was Elmwood Avenue, which recently had bike lanes installed – the first for Monroe County DOT! Last year’s winner was Empire Boulevard around the head of Irondequoit Bay. We’re having ongoing conversations with NYSDOT about that stretch of road which needs vast improvement. The gap that receives the most votes this year will be declared the winner! Reconnect Rochester will give this segment special attention in our advocacy efforts. We’ll approach the municipality and the operator of the road (be it City, County or State) with our community support evidence in hand to help make the case that this is a crucial gap to fill.

Without further ado, we present to you the nominees for the 2024 Mind the Gap award:

1. SOUTH CLINTON AVENUE OVER THE ERIE CANAL

Okay voters: we hear you! Brighton residents want to be able to bike from the Brickyard Trail and Buckland Park to Meridian Centre Park and the Erie Canal, but 590 stands in the way. Some dream of a bike/ped bridge over 590 (wouldn’t that be cool!), but this voting campaign is about short stretches and low-hanging fruit. Biking along Winton under 590 is way too uncomfortable for most bike riders. South Clinton, however, is more doable. How about protected bike lanes from Senator Keating Blvd to the parking lot beside the Canal? That’s only 4/10 of a mile.

Jurisdiction: Monroe County DOT

2. LEE ROAD CONNECTING ERIE CANAL TRAIL TO 390 TRAIL

Rochester’s west side is bereft of comfortable biking connections. It’s crucial that the 390 Trail and Erie Canal Trail be connected. A great start was made in 2022 with the new 390 Trail extension and Eastman Trail. Unfortunately, a NYSDOT project to construct a trail along Lee Rd from Ridgeway Ave to Trolley Blvd fell through. In the not too distant future, hopefully County DOT can give Lee Road a road diet and protect cyclists from that intimidating semi truck traffic. This stretch is 1.4 miles.

Jurisdiction: Monroe County DOT

3. BUFFALO ROAD BETWEEN HOWARD & TRABOLD

Biking westbound out of the City isn’t easy. The average rider won’t be comfortable biking on Brooks or Chili Ave with their current configurations. The good news however is that once you bike past the Canal & 390, there are some residential streets that get you further west in a low-stress manner. Buffalo Road at least has bike lanes & wide shoulders until you approach Howard. The biggest wall then becomes 490. There’s no other way around it: Buffalo Road needs to be made bike-friendly going under 490. How about protected bike lanes along the half-mile stretch from Wegman Road to Davy Drive? Easy residential cycling then gets you to TSE, the Gates Library and the Amazon Fulfillment Center.

Jurisdiction: NYSDOT

4. CROSSING 104 INTO IRONDEQUOIT

The easiest way to cross Route 104 by bike is via the El Camino Trail. But another low-stress route is needed to the east between Rochester and Irondequoit. Goodman and Culver are not friendly for cyclists. We see two options: Monroe County DOT makes the 104 underpass on Culver more bike-friendly, or the Town of Irondequoit explores this great trail idea put forth by Jack Rinaldo a couple years ago. Such a trail would only need to be half a mile long (!) and it would be transformative.

Jurisdiction: Monroe Co. DOT / Town of Irondequoit

5. TRAIL ALTERNATIVE TO 441

As area cyclists know, biking on 441 is not comfortable at all. Riding a bike from the City to Penfield and southward to East Rochester is quite the challenge. Penfield Road east of 490 isn’t awful. At least there are shoulders to ride in. When those shoulders disappear after Poplar Drive, there’s a sidewalk/market parking lot/sidewalk again on the north side that will get you very close to Panorama Plaza. Behind Panorama Plaza, there is a trail network that gets you all the way to Perinton’s Spring Lake Park. But alas, adults aren’t allowed to ride their bikes on Penfield Trails. Remedying this gap would require the town to update its code. Pedestrians and cyclists can coexist on those trails right?

Jurisdiction: Town of Penfield

6. DRIVING PARK AVENUE BRIDGE

The City is starting a study to find the best way to fill the gap in the Genesee Riverway Trail north of downtown. As it is now, St. Paul Street bike lanes take riders north to Brewer Street, where the trail resumes over Middle Falls. (The Avenue A bike boulevard gets you here from the east as well). Those who don’t want to descend into the gorge only to climb back up to Driving Park Ave can avoid the hills & stay on flat terrain by taking Carthage Drive and biking on the Driving Park Avenue Bridge for a tiny bit. There are bike lanes on the bridge but motorist speeds are very fast and it’s quite an intimidating experience. How about protected bike lanes on this bridge, or a two-way protected cycletrack on the south side that takes you to the crosswalk and newly installed RFFB?

Jurisdiction: City of Rochester

7. HYLAN DRIVE TO MARKETPLACE DRIVE

Parts of Henrietta (residential streets) are somewhat bikeable but 390 severs Henrietta in two. The north branch of the Lehigh Valley Trail is also severed in two. Perhaps someday Bailey Road, West Henrietta Road and Calkins will be made bike-friendly in order to really complete the trail’s north branch. But an easier lift would be giving Hylan Drive a road diet and really taking care to protect cyclists going over 390. Once a northbound cyclist gets to Marketplace Drive, they can veer off west or east for lower-stress biking. Where the trail ends at Calkins to Marketplace Drive is only 7/10 of a mile.

Jurisdiction: Monroe County DOT

8. EAST AVENUE WEGMANS

Biking to the East Avenue Wegmans and locking up your bike next to the front doors is often way more convenient than driving there and searching for a parking space. But Wegmans could certainly be more approachable by bike in each direction. From the southwest, cyclists can ride along the comfortable Norris Drive or Harvard Street bike boulevards to Colby. There are new bike lanes on East Ave but unfortunately they don’t get you all the way to Wegmans. Surely something can be done too to connect the Harvard/Colby bike boulevard to the bike boulevard across from Artisan Works on Marion Street. That bike boulevard parallels Winton and goes up to Tryon Park. Many voters complain of how uncomfortable Winton is going over 490. This whole can of worms area needs attention.

Jurisdiction: NYS DOT (East Avenue) and City of Rochester (Winton and Blossom)

9. THE JOSANA TRAIL

A critical connection the City intends to make someday is between the Colvin Street bike boulevard and the soccer stadium, where the Plymouth bike boulevard continues north all the way to Kodak Park. This is especially important as this area sees a lot of cyclist-motorist collisions. The intended connection is via the abandoned railroad tracks and would be called the JOSANA Trail. Things always get complicated when acquiring CSX right-of-way is involved, but if this gap wins the contest, perhaps it’ll give the City a sense of urgency in acquiring right of way and finding the funding to implement the planning work that’s already done. This segment of the trail is only a half mile.

Jurisdiction: City of Rochester

10. BETTER CONNECTION BETWEEN THE 390 AND LAKE ONTARIO TRAILS

Thanks to the new Eastman Trail and 390 Trail extension, Greece residents can bike along the 390 Trail almost to Mt Read Blvd, though the 390 Trail is in need of some serious maintenance. The 390 Trail goes all the way north to Janes Road, where some traffic negotiating is required. One has to take a left turn onto Island Cottage Road to where the Lake Ontario Trail starts. This little bit of shoulder riding is only half a mile between the two trails. The shoulders are quite wide but some all ages and abilities bike accommodations would be fantastic along that half-mile stretch.

Jurisdiction: Monroe County DOT

So, what do you think?

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20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series: Chili

By: Joe Osgood

The Rochester area is famous for its 20-minute commute. For driving that is. Reconnect Rochester is excited to ask a different question in this blog series: Where can you get within 20 minutes on a bike?

Presenting the seventh in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this next installment, we chose where Chili Avenue, Paul Road and Chili-Coldwater Road come together in Chili and are showing how far out in every direction you can get on a bike at a casual but steady pace of 10 miles per hour. This means that if you live anywhere in this green area, you can get to that intersection & its stores/workplaces within 20ish minutes on a bike. Thanks again to Brendan Ryan for his help putting this map together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory in Chili, here’s Joe Osgood sharing his personal travel-by-bike experiences.

In 2022, I started “returning to the office” after a period of working remotely during the pandemic. I already lived a reasonable bike ride from work, so I decided to try bike commuting regularly. I soon found myself investing in some quality panniers – Ortlieb panniers are worth the price – for both work-commuting and getting groceries. 
As time has passed, I’ve evolved from a fair-weather commuter, to a rain-rider, to eventually getting studded bike tires for the winter – which I highly recommend! At this point, I’ve been living “car-lite” – tending to lean towards biking as my transportation choice unless there is some reason not to (such as time/distance or dangerous conditions). There are quite a few destinations around Chili I can reach in about a 20 minute bike ride, and I’m able to find routes that have minimal car traffic. I’ll share some of those routes below.


Chili Center

The Chili Wegmans is here, as well as Aldi and Target, and lots more. If you’re approaching from the east or northeast, the best way to approach Wegmans is to sneak in the Paul Rd entrance. It’s less busy than the Chili-Paul intersection, and you get closer to the bike rack between the pharmacy entrance and the main entrance (by the bottle return).

If you’re approaching from the west, you can take the sidewalk next to the car entrance down into the Target lot. These metal bars by the entrance to Target are probably meant for herding shopping carts inside, but they also make a great object to lock your bike to. Bike “parking spots” are often more convenient than car parking spots!


Or, skip the bike rack altogether and get yourself a folding bike you can take inside with you. I got a Tern Link D8 from Bert’s Bikes a few months ago and it has served me well so far. My Ortlieb panniers work fine with the rear rack. I recently installed the Tern Transit Rack so I can wheel it around while folded – a worthwhile investment.


Rochester Tech Park

The Rochester Tech Park used to be busy back in the day, but now it has very little car traffic and is actually great for biking – inside the Tech Park, that is. Unfortunately, the Tech Park is surrounded by “stroads”: Buffalo, Manitou, Elmgrove, and Rt 531. Rt 531 is a highway that forms a geographical barrier comparable to a river – Elmgrove and Manitou being the only nearby bridges crossing it. 

The best way to get into the Tech Park by bike is to cross the busy “stroads” at a traffic light, particularly the one at Coldwater Rd. While Coldwater Rd has a moderate amount of traffic, it also has a decent-sized shoulder for most of its length.

To get to Coldwater Rd from Chili Center, most cars take Chili Center Coldwater Rd. While this is the shortest way, it’s also the busiest. 

A much better option is to take the Paul Rd exit from Wegmans and immediately turn onto Grenell Dr. Go down Chili Ave briefly before turning into the St Pius X church parking lot, which connects to Chestnut Ridge Rd. Then take Fenton Rd to Westside Dr and finally onto Coldwater. It does make the trip 4 miles instead of 3.5, but it’s well worth it to be on quieter roads.


Buffalo Road Tops

The Buffalo Rd plazas on the other side of 490 have businesses like Tops, Home Depot, and Tinseltown. 

Buffalo Rd here is an archetypical “stroad” – high traffic volume moving at dangerously high speeds. The least-stressful way to approach these plazas is via Pixley Rd. While Pixley Rd has a fair amount of traffic, it only has 3 lanes of car traffic instead of 6. It also has a wide shoulder for biking.

To get to Pixley, you could take Chili Ave. An alternative is to go through the parking lot of St Pius X church, as described above, and use Fenton to get to Westside Dr. Westside Dr has less car traffic than Chili Ave. Going the Westside Dr route adds an extra half mile to the trip (4.3 miles vs 3.9 miles).


Chili Walmart

The obvious way to get to Walmart from Chili Center is to take Chili Ave. As mentioned above, Chili Ave is okay for biking – at least between Grenell Dr and the intersection with Westside Dr. You could choose to take Fenton Rd and Westside Dr here, but that will add an extra half mile to the trip (4 miles vs 3.6). 

Whichever way you go, you will eventually have to take Chili Ave east of the Westside Dr intersection. East of this intersection, Chili Ave becomes a much busier “stroad”. The sidewalks are the best option when biking this stretch of Chili Ave.

At some point, you will want to get to the sidewalk on the north side of the road. There is a sidewalk branching off this one that goes to Westgate Park, and you can take that sidewalk to avoid some busy intersections. Safely cross Howard Rd at a light, and you’ll arrive at Walmart. 

Note: Last I checked, Walmart’s bike rack was rusted out and not trustworthy. Ensure you lock your bike to a secure object. I usually use the fence by the garden center.


City of Rochester

While outside of the 20-minute range, I will occasionally do longer rides into the city or across town. Usually such a route involves getting to the Erie Canal trail. Here’s two lower-stress routes to get there.

One option would be Chili Ave to Pixley to Hinchey. This route avoids the more stressful stretch of Chili Ave between Westside Dr and the Canal. Use caution on the last ¼ of a mile of this route when you are back on Chili Ave, as there are multiple slip lanes and busy intersections to cross. Once you get on the Canal trail, you can easily head east towards Genesee Valley Park and take a bike trail from there.

Another option is to take Paul Rd to the airport and then pick up the bike trail that parallels Scottsville Rd. Between Chili Center and the airport, Paul Rd is fairly quiet. It’s a little busier around the southern tip of the airport. The crosswalk at Paul Rd and Scottsville Rd was recently improved for better pedestrian safety. And the bike trail along Scottsville Rd is very pleasant to ride, between the river and trees (and the fire safety training grounds!).

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Bicycle-Friendly Businesses in Monroe County: WomanTours

Bicycle-Friendly Businesses in Monroe County: WomanTours

By: Karen Miltner

Bikes are good for businesses and their employees. Through the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) program, employers are recognized for their efforts to encourage a more welcoming atmosphere for bicycling employees, customers and the community.

With the aim of seeing more Monroe County employers give greater thought towards accommodating bike-riding employees and patrons, Reconnect Rochester is proud to shine a light on local businesses who’ve received the distinction of being named a Bicycle-Friendly Business.

First up: WomanTours, a women-only bike tour company headquartered in the Town of Brighton!

Although WomanTours has been in the bicycle touring business since 1995, it wasn’t until 2020 that our company applied for and earned recognition as a Gold Bicycle Friendly Business from the League of American Bicyclists, the advocacy organization that helps cyclists in the United States enjoy the benefits and opportunities of safe bicycling.

We were the first business in Monroe County to garner this distinction. And of course, we were thrilled to receive the Gold designation right out of the gate. Since then, three other businesses have received either Silver or Bronze Bicycle Friendly Business status. We hope there will be more. It’s also encouraging to know that several area colleges and universities, including University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology and Monroe Community College, are also on board.

WomanTours take our pledge to encourage a more welcoming atmosphere for bicycling employees, customers and the community seriously. Some of the resources that have helped us to achieve this:

  • We proactively selected an office with close access to the Erie Canalway, a major traffic-free bicycle commuting corridor. Then we worked with our landlord to install a bike rack and a shower.
  • Work dress code is always casual, making it easier to commute by bike.
  • There are plenty of bike pumps and tools on hand in case commuter bikes need a quick tune-up.
  • Safety is always our first priority when taking customers on tour, so our pre-tour literature and first-day orientation always prioritize defensive riding. In addition, our tour guides offer mechanical tutorials to our customers, teaching them how to change a flat and handle minor bike repairs.

Our company also likes to give back to the local and global bicycling community.

  • Each year, WomanTours donates proceeds from its Tanzania tour to globalbike, an organization that works to make bicycles accessible to women in rural Tanzania in order to improve their health and well-being. The company has so far donated more than $57,600 to globalbike.
  • Thanks to our annual Angel Fund Scholarship (supported by an anonymous benefactor), we have been able to offer dozens of women a chance to travel on select tours for free. Candidates are chosen based on need and suitability to the tours.
  • WomanTours donates older used bikes to R Community Bikes in Rochester, a service that refurbishes bikes for those who could otherwise not afford them. WomanTours also contributed old bikes to Dreambikes, a service that sells used bikes and trains youth to become bike mechanics. (DreamBikes no longer operates in Rochester).

Two of our five staff members in our Rochester office live close enough to commute regularly by bike into the office. One of them is President Jackie Marchand, who also serves as treasurer of Reconnect Rochester. But even those of us who live too far away to commute to work daily take advantage of WomanTours’ bike-friendly resources.

I, for example, live in Geneva, about 55 miles away (an hour by car, four hours by bike). Thanks to our flexible schedules, I work two consecutive days a week in the office, staying overnight in town so I can save a couple hours of driving (and more importantly, two hours of fuel and wear/tear on my car). The other three days of the week, I work from home and telecommute.

I am also able to keep a bicycle on premise. This enables me to ride to and from my overnight lodging. And if I need to run an errand during the work day, I will do so by bike whenever possible. Often, I take a ride during my lunch break or after my work day is over. All three options give me some much needed fresh air and exercise and are a huge reason why my stress levels don’t get out of whack. I know this perk makes me a much happier and more productive employee.

While WomanTours is in the business of providing cycling trips for women of all ages and capabilities, we know our impact goes far beyond a fun outdoor vacation. Our customers tell that our tours coax them to ride more year-round, not just for recreation and fitness, but also for errands, commuting and general well-being. They also let us know that our tours have made them better bike mechanics and safer riders. Lastly, a WomanTours experience has turned many of our customers into bicycling advocates and ambassadors, inspiring their friends, family and neighbors to hop on a bike and enjoy the ride.

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WomanTours is a woman-owned and women-operated company that offers domestic and international bicycle tours for women. It is based in Rochester. For more information, go to www.womantours.com

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Why We’re Showing Up to Ride for the Spine

Why We’re Showing Up to Ride for the Spine

By Cody Donahue, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Ride and rally with us on Friday, May 3rd for the Ride for the Spine, a community ride to support building the Bike Spine Network envisioned in the City of Rochester and Monroe County Active Transportation Plans. Arrive between 2 pm and 2:15 pm at Genesee Valley Park Sports Complex to depart promptly at 2:30 pm and ride to City Hall. Please register so we can have an accurate count: bit.ly/rideforthespine 

Confirmed speakers at the rally on the steps of City Hall at 3-3:30 pm:

  • City of Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans
  • Monroe County Executive Adam Bello
  • Congressman Joe Morelle, NY-25
  • City Council Vice President LaShay D. Harris, Chair of the City Council Committee on People, Parks and Public Works
  • Michelle King, Black Girls Do Bike
  • Cody Donahue, Reconnect Rochester

We bike to get around. We bike to stay healthy. We bike with our families to play and have fun. Biking is good for our planet and our pocketbooks. Our biking community in Monroe County is diverse and vibrant. But what if everyone who wanted to bike could feel comfortable and protected doing it? They could if we made our bike network safe, low-stress and seamless. They could if our community prioritized biking as a mobility option for all kinds of people.

Reconnect Rochester has championed active transportation for years and worked to make it easier and safer for people to use their bike to get around: we provide bike education, custom bike maps, organize rides all summer, and have bike-to-work pit stops twice a year (Save the Date for Friday, May 17th!). We see our job as normalizing biking for transportation, sharing how bike boulevards and cycle tracks are a low-stress option to get around. There are so many great places to ride within 20 minutes of where you live.

However, we know none of these resources can fix roads where cars travel at unsafe speeds and painted bike lanes that disappear and reappear seemingly randomly. We can’t make up for the almost complete lack of dedicated, on-road bicycle infrastructure outside of the City of Rochester. According to the Federal Highway Administration, for about 60% of people who might otherwise ride their bike, these conditions discourage them from even trying to bike to work, to school or to the grocery store. This is especially true for women, children and the elderly. 

To our community’s credit, we are starting to change. Rochester’s cycletracks and Inner Loop East project have been featured in national media, Elmwood Avenue became the first County road outside of the city with bike lanes, and Rochester secured $3.2 million of federal funds to test (among other things) bike lane barriers. These projects are a down payment on what we hope will be the transformation ahead to become a more multi-modal community. 

Two key transportation plans were adopted in 2023 that, if aggressively implemented, would significantly expand and transform bike infrastructure in our community. The Monroe County Active Transportation Plan and the City of Rochester Active Transportation Plan (hereafter, the “ATPs”) were completed in a coordinated fashion so that the bike network envisioned in the city would continue out into Monroe County’s towns and suburbs. The ATPs quite literally provide a roadmap for building a bike transportation system throughout Monroe County. 

The City of Rochester called the main corridors of their bike network the spine and that is why we are calling our ride the “Ride for the Spine”. On May 3rd, we will Ride for the Spine with bicyclists of all ages and all walks of life and rally together with our elected official partners to demonstrate our support for the work ahead. Our goal is to show there are people from all over Monroe County who support aggressive implementation of the Active Transportation Plans, building a high-comfort and seamless bike transportation network in a matter of years – not decades. Continuing at our current pace will not get us to this goal.

To bring the ATPs’ visions off the paper to reality, our rally will ask the following of our municipal leaders: 

  1. Build 8 miles of protected bike lanes to complete the minimum grid now

Don’t wait to build the spine. We can attain a “minimum grid” of north-south/east-west axis bike facilities by installing protected, seamless bike facilities on Main Street from the Erie Canal to Winton Rd. (a 6-mile investment) and by filling in the Genesee Riverway Trail gap north of downtown (a 2-mile investment). These 8 miles are the key to success and must be completed in the near-term. Building good quality bike infrastructure is a small percentage of a repaving project and we should leverage every project to deliver it. But relying only on road maintenance cycles won’t be enough. To accelerate progress, the City and County will need to dedicate funding in their operational budgets, and/or seek dedicated State and federal funding. 

  1. Build the seamless, high-comfort bike facility every time

When a road that was envisioned in the ATPs spine is up for repaving or reconstruction, the design must reflect protected bike lanes with connectivity to other parts of the network. Painted lanes only suffice for the envisioned “supporting corridor network” for more experienced riders. Protected bike facilities make all road users safer, including drivers. Low-cost materials are available and widely used nationwide. 

  1. Build resilience in the face of opposition

City and County officials: You are doing the right thing by implementing complete streets. They make roads safer for everyone and more inclusive for people of all ages and abilities. Protected bike facilities are cost effective, reduce fatalities & injuries, and get more people biking & scooting, which lessens pollution & congestion, saves families money, attracts and retains young people, acts as a social cohesive, gets residents active & healthy, gets kids outside and results in a more equitable and vibrant community. That’s a lot of checked boxes! Certainly there are trade-offs – mostly underutilized parking spots and slowing cars down. Often we bicyclists are motorists too and we find these trade-offs acceptable. Safety for vulnerable road users must be our prime directive and override perceived inconveniences for drivers. 

We can do this together, in partnership, for the betterment of our community. Once again, we hope you will ride with us Friday, May 3rd to support building the bike spine network! Please click the button below to register so we can have an accurate count!

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In Praise of Rochester’s Growing Bike Boulevard Network

Jesse Peers (white man) stands in front of Reconnect Rochester door at the Hungerford Building.

By Jesse Peers, Cycling Manager at Reconnect Rochester

Photo Credit: Judy Lombard from Bits and Peaces Photography

As Rochester cyclists know well, when bike lanes are installed here, they tend to be in isolated stretches, and disconnected from each other. Hopefully that will change as a result of the Active Transportation Plan and its envisioned Bike Spine Network. Today, though, Reconnect Rochester wants to highlight a component of the City’s bike network that isn’t disjointed and is quite well executed: the growing Bike Boulevard network.

Bike Boulevards are residential streets through neighborhoods that parallel primary, busy roads (aka, “arterials”). They are traffic-calmed, particularly by speed bumps, and wayfinding signage is installed for cyclists. Though not all bike riders will be comfortable riding along bike boulevards, most people find them manageable, even pleasant to bike along.

For those who haven’t heard my funny Garson story, I’ll repeat it here. In 2021, Garson Avenue through Beechwood and North Winton Village was made into a Bike Boulevard. One day I overheard some neighbors complaining about the changes and the speed bumps in particular: They exclaimed in anger, “We don’t even drive on Garson anymore!” I had to keep myself from laughing: That’s the point, of course – bike boulevards are supposed to slow down and even deter – car traffic. The speed bumps are doing their job.

In 2015, Alta Planning put a lot of good thought into where Bike Boulevards could be installed. As you bike around, try these purple dotted lines!

Rochester’s Bike Boulevards Plan was created in 2015 and the first boulevard along Harvard Street opened in May 2016. 

The first Bike Boulevard along Harvard was celebrated with a ribbon cutting

Phase 1 (2016)

Phases 1 and 2 (2021)

2021 was the year that the Bike Boulevard Network got a significant boost with the installation of phase 2. The City is currently seeking CMAQ funds for the construction of phase 3. Since the Bike Boulevards are centrally planned with an eye towards connectivity, they’re linking to each other when installed. (These maps don’t show the trails they connect to; that’s in part why we created the ROC Easy Bike map.) A vocal minority in a public meeting don’t get to say “no thanks” the way opponents sometimes overturn bike infrastructure on arterials (creating gaps in the bike network).

Phase 3 in yellow

It’s important to note that the City of Rochester doesn’t view bike boulevards as substitutes for dedicated bike infrastructure on arterials. Rather they view the two types of infrastructure as complementary to each other. After all, destinations like workplaces, stores, daycares and such tend to be on arterials. The Active Transportation Plan encourages the City to take more care at bike boulevard crossings and this must be a priority. The Bike Boulevard along Harvard Street for instance is great, but jeesh – have you ever tried to cross Goodman there? Especially with a kid tagging along, it’s tough.

Unfortunately, we’ve been waiting for three years now on the wayfinding signage for the phase 2 boulevards. The pandemic wreaked havoc on the supply chain and Monroe County DOT, which is responsible for installing signage, is short staffed and hasn’t yet had the time to put them in at the time of this blog. Coupled with the fact that the City has not done a press release or ribbon cutting, it’s no wonder why the Bike Boulevards are the low-stress bike network and investment/accomplishment no one knows about.

It’ll be quite some time before phase 3 of the boulevards is complete. My take: Bike along those future bike boulevards anyway! That’s what we do on our Flower City Feeling Good bike ride series on Wednesdays: We amp up anticipation for and increase familiarity with that growing network. Phase 3 boulevards are not traffic calmed yet but they’re definitely bikeable and easier to bike along than arterials with no/disappearing bike lanes.

Here are more reasons why I love the bike boulevards and use them for most of my riding:

  • With less and slower car traffic, there’s less car exhaust to breathe in. Studies confirm this.
  • Since residential streets are narrower than arterials, there’s typically more tree shade, sometimes even “kissing canopies.” Thus in the summer, it’s easier to stay cool.
  • Since the streets are calmer, I take advantage of that by listening to podcasts or music as I ride.
  • Kids along these streets have safer playing conditions, so there’s more joy in the air; more people on their porches saying hi too.

Granted, navigating the area largely by bike boulevards isn’t as direct. Each ride can be a little squiggly. But I’ve ridden along the existing and future bike boulevards so much the last few years that I know where the turns are without consulting a map or signage. And these minute turns are literally a few seconds on a bike, so you’re not wasting much time “being squiggly,” especially if you’ve got an e-bike or e-scooter. For all these reasons, it’s worth it. My kids and I use the Bike Boulevards a lot – especially when getting to Innovative Field for a Red Wings game.

Some quick notes to end on:

  • The USDOT estimates “that for an alternative low-stress route to be viable, the increase in trip length should be less than 30%.” My hunch is that most Rochester trips along the bike boulevards will be within that 30% threshold.
  • As a bike rider’s know-how and confidence grows, they can stray outside the lines on our ROC Easy Bike map. Want to increase your know-how and confidence? Take one of our on-bike classes sometime!
  • Bike Boulevards aren’t just a City investment! Brighton and Irondequoit are investing in bike boulevard networks too.
  • To be a great biking city, our bike network and investment can’t be hidden from view (mostly along overlooked back ways). The bike network must be obvious and intuitive to grow ridership. There’s more work to be done and the Bike Spine Network of protected bike lanes must be built.
  • As you can see on the following map from the City’s ATP, pretty much all of Rochester’s residential streets are low-stress to bike along. So don’t feel like you have to stick strictly to the official Bike Boulevards. Just take care when crossing those major roads in red.

Bike Boulevard roundabout at Pershing Drive & Rocket Street in the Homestead Heights neighborhood

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Rochester’s Bike Spine Network – Habitat Corridors Wherein Bike Riders of All Ages & Abilities Can Thrive

Jesse Peers (white man) stands in front of Reconnect Rochester door at the Hungerford Building.

By Jesse Peers, Cycling Manager at Reconnect Rochester

Many people in the mobility world are probably familiar with Janette Sadik-Khan, Transportation Commissioner in New York City from 2007-2013. She’s credited in many ways with starting the 21st Century bike boom in the US, which she chronicles in her stellar book Street Fight. Last summer, when I heard she was featured on the Possible podcast to talk about the future of cities, I gave the episode a listen while riding my bike, scoping out a potential route for our ride series. The episode was great and you can listen to it here.

Towards the end of the podcast episode, Sadik-Khan was asked if there was a book that filled her with optimism for the future. She immediately answered and recommended Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future, her favorite book. The novel sounded so intriguing that I purchased a copy and read it last summer. It’s one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read, and though I wished it emphasized transportation, proximity and land use more, many aspects of it will keep me thinking for a long time.

The premise of the book is that things get so bad climate-wise that the United Nations creates a new subsidiary body with permanent duties to push things forward. The so-called Ministry for the Future’s job is to advocate for the world’s future generations, to defend all living creatures present and future who cannot speak for themselves. Over the course of the book, humanity gets its act together with a broad swath of sustainable initiatives.

A concept that really intrigued me was that of the Half Earth Project and habitat corridors from Chapter 72. To protect critically endangered wild animals, habitat corridors such as Y2Y (Yukon to Yellowstone) are established. When wildlife is cooped up in isolated pockets, it can’t thrive. In the book, nations establish habitat corridors, long unbroken spines for wildlife, that serve as safety zones. Animals get free passage up and down those spines, roads are given under- and over-passes to not inhibit animal movement, wildlife are protected from hunting, and disparate animal populations get a chance to connect, breed and thrive. 

While I was reading this book, the City of Rochester’s Active Transportation Plan was being finalized and it struck me how similar habitat corridors are to the envisioned Bike Spine Network. Obviously, Rochester’s bike network now is disparate and piecemeal, hence it can be argued that we really don’t have a bike network yet (would disconnected train tracks all over the country be considered a national rail network?). 

The idea of the Bike Spine Network is to concentrate political will, to focus investments, on a few seamless, high-comfort bike routes across the city, hopefully in the near term. I see the Bike Spine Network as Rochester’s “habitat corridor” for bike riders of all ages and abilities: safety zones allowing free passage, along which we can thrive and multiply. 

Envisioned Bike Spine Network in dark blue; already completed segments such as the Genesee Riverway Trail and East Main cycletrack are shown as dashed lines

To Rochester’s credit, especially recently, the City often wants to do the right thing: reallocate street space to create dedicated bicycle facilities. But as many advocates know, some people get really mad when space for cars, for on-street parking in particular, is taken away for bike lanes. The opposition can be quite vocal and sometimes the City steps back from safer designs (remember Lake Ave?).

It’s time for bike riders (and people who would bike if they felt protected and comfortable) to be vocal.


Save The Date!

Please join us on Friday afternoon, May 3, 2024 for Reconnect Rochester’s Ride for the Spine. More info here along with an RSVP form to help us get a headcount.

We want as many people as possible to ride to City Hall together that afternoon and surround the city with support and positive energy for the Bike Spine Network. If you have kids (or nephews, nieces and/or grandchildren), consider taking them out of school early so they can join in the fun. When we get to City Hall’s steps, we want the Mayor, County Executive, Commissioner and Councilmembers to look out upon a sea of diverse people (people of color, kids, women, seniors) supporting these changes. Together, we’ll give City Hall political capital to work towards these improvements in a timely manner. We hope to see you on May 3rd!

Photos from the People’s Climate Movement rally in April 2017
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Our 2024 Virtual Trip to Albany!

Last week, Reconnect Rochester went on our annual (virtual) trip to champion public transportation and safe streets for all of Rochester (and New York State). We spent the day speaking with legislators about the ways we can improve transportation in our region and across the state.

Presenting our best thinking on safe streets and transportation priorities with legislatures is one of the biggest ways we influence policy behind the scenes. 

The meetings were very productive and we found several ways to advance the priority bills and budget investments discussed below. 

One of our biggest pushes of this year has since made it into the so-called “One House budget”. The next step is to get Governor Hochul to include it in her budget. We are running a petition calling on New York State to include $15M in this year’s budget to build an intercity bus terminal as an expansion of the Louise M. Slaughter Intermodal Station. You can add your name to the petition here.

We were also curious to see this new $10 million for “Higher Speed Rail”. 🤔

We’d like to shout out Reconnect Rochester Multimodal Advocacy Committee members Bill Collins, Jason Partyka, Doug Kelley, Evan Lowenstein, and Steve Roll for devoting their time to the effort, and a huge thank you to all the legislative offices who took the time to meet with us: Assemblymembers Demond Meeks, Harry Bronson, Jennifer Lunsford, Sarah Clark, and William Magnarelli, and Senators Samra Brouk, Jeremy Cooney, and Tim Kennedy.

Do you want to get involved with safe streets lobbying? If you are interested in joining advocates in Albany on May 7th, you can sign up for the New York Safe Streets Lobby Day by registering here. If you are planning to go, feel free to drop us a line.

Check out our full list of 2024 transportation asks below:

New York State 2024-25 Transportation Priorities

Public Transit:

Historic levels of investment have been made at the federal level for public transportation. We are asking for you to support:

  1. A 15% increase in Statewide Operating Assistance (STOA) funding for upstate transit systems
  2. Increased capital investments into green infrastructure to reach the state’s climate goals
  3. Dedicated sources of revenue to ensure sustainable, predictable, long-term funding streams for transit services. While economic development projects should be built on public transit lines, consider establishing transit funding for economic development projects (for example, A9225/S8563)
  4. Expanded fare-capping and fare-free programs

Bicycle and Pedestrian (Active Transportation):

Pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities are on the rise. Reconnect Rochester is working with the NYS Safe Streets Coalition to prioritize legislation to address this silent epidemic. Consider sponsoring or co sponsoring the S.A.F.E. Streets Act which includes the following legislation:

  1. Sammy’s Law
    Allows New York City to control its own speed limits. (Briefing document and List of Supporters)
    S2422 (Hoylman) | A7266 (Rosenthal)
  2. Complete Streets Maintenance
    Includes, when possible, complete street design features in resurfacing, maintenance and pavement recycling projects and further enable safe access to public roads for all users. (Briefing document)
    S2714 (Kennedy) | A01280 (Rivera)
  3. Defined Safe Passing
    Require motorists to allow at least three feet between vehicle and pedestrians, bicyclists, and wheelchair users when overtaking or passing statewide except New York City which will continue to require “safe distance.” (Briefing document)
    S1724 (Harckham) | A04346 (Steck)
  4. Stop As Yield
    Allows cyclists to treat stop lights as stop signs and stop signs as yields, reducing vehicle conflict while prioritizing pedestrian right-of-way, and encouraging increased cyclist use of low-traffic, secondary roads. (Briefing document)
    S2643 (May) | A3986 (Fahy)
  5. Speed Limiters for Repeat Offenders
    Requires mandatory intelligent speed assistance technology for repeat offenders. (Briefing document and FAQ)
    S7621 (Gounardes) | A07979 (Gallagher)
  6. Complete Streets Budget Ask
    Increase funding in the Department of Transportation Capital Projects Budget for Complete Streets from $5 million to $10 million. (Briefing document)
  7. Other Supporting Bills
    The New York State Coalition also supports several additional bills that will help make our roadways safe.  (List of Additional Bills Supported)

We are also urging NYSDOT to adopt a new policy that aligns with the intent of Chapter 496 of 2022 and allows for the expedient adoption of safer 25 MPH speed limits. 

In addition to the S.A.F.E. Streets Act package, these are additional bills related to bicyclists that we would encourage you to sponsor or co-sponsor:

  1. Ebike Rebate (S314/A275) – Directs the New York state energy and development authority to establish a ride clean rebate program for electric assist bicycles and electric scooters.
  2. Ebike Access (S1123/A2627) – Repeal certain provisions of the vehicle and traffic law and would allow ebikes to be ridden anywhere regular bikes can.
  3. Right of Way for Bicyclists (S8210/A8272) – Requiring that vehicles yield the right of way to multi-use trails that cross roadways.
  4. Relates to consolidated local highway assistance payments (“CHIPS”) (S7890/A8273) Revises the consolidated local street and highway improvement program (“CHIPS”) formula to include bicycle lane and Greenway trail mileage; allows CHIPS funds to be used for the purpose of constructing or maintaining bicycle lanes, Greenway trails, and other multi-use trails.

Train and Long-Distance Bus:

Accelerate the Amtrak Service Development Plan (SDP) implementation timeline for improving upstate New York’s intercity passenger rail service so that projects in Central and Western New York start at the same time as downstate projects. 

Climate Resiliency: 
Co-sponsor S1981/A4120 to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 20% and expand transportation options to meet climate and equity goals. Learn more about the effort here.

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What Can We Learn From Rochester’s Cycle Tracks?

Written by Arian Horbovetz and originally published on The Urban Phoenix blog

Union and Howell Streets

The Good

The Bad

College Town

The Good

The Bad

East Main Street

The Good

The Bad

What Do These Examples Tell Us?

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Voices of Transit: William Dickerson

Reconnect Rochester presents Voices of Transit, an ethnography profile blog series that along with the qualitative survey data from over 200 RTS customers, shows how our current bus system helps (and sometimes hurts) transit-dependent riders in their daily lives. Read more about the initiative here and to review the survey results from the Transit Ambassador Pilot Program, click here.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and give us an introduction to your transit story.

I’m from Northern Pennsylvania, near Allegheny County. Before moving to Rochester, I lived in Denver for a couple years and was looking to move, and a friend recommended that I move out here, so it’s been about 10 years now.

Tell me more about your experience with riding RTS. Which routes do you ride the most?

I’m car free so getting around Rochester now is better than it was, especially after Reimagine RTS because now buses run at least every hour and there’s more coverage. Before Reimagine, I worked out in Webster and on the weekends I would get on the bus at 6:30 in the morning, work from 10 AM – 6 PM, and when I got off of work I had to walk from my job in Webster to Winton Road which was the closest bus stop.

So it’s a lot easier, but it still has some complications. Now, I work at Eastview and I take the 41, 11L and Victor OnDemand service to get to work. Coming home, I’ll take OnDemand from Eastview to Blossom Loop and then walk 2.5 miles home to Rosewood Terrace. At Blossom Loop, there’s the 9 and 10 which alternate every half hour so I can take that to the 41, but then when I get to Goodman, the 41 at that time starts to come every hour. So at that point, do I wait for a half an hour or do I just walk home?

Tell me more about your experience with OnDemand.

It’s not bad, but it’s tricky to schedule. I have to schedule the night before, but it’s not guaranteed that I’ll get a ride, and it can be frustrating because if you can’t find a ride at the time that you need you have to try and schedule in 15 minute increments until you get a ride.

I think OnDemand to Eastview makes more sense than maybe a fixed route, but they do need more drivers to service that area because the few times when I couldn’t get a ride, I’ve had to walk home from Eastview which was 4.5 hours. The second time, I walked to Pittsford just in time to catch the 11L home.

What’s your experience with bus stop amenities? What would make you more comfortable while you wait?

I get on the 41 at Greeley and Parsells, and there’s a shelter and bus stop cubes, but there’s a lot of stops where there’s nothing there and you just have to stand on the side of the road hoping the weather holds out. I also like that the bus stop cubes make the stop more visible to drivers which is nice.

Is there anything that you would change about the current service? What’s your hope for the future of public transportation in Rochester?

I would like to see the 22L go back running every 15 mins. I also work at the Maplewood YMCA and it was easier to get to and from work when it was every 15 minutes compared to every half hour.

Also, Route 50 is terrible. It runs every two hours. I went for an interview in East Rochester on a cold day and I was stuck standing outside in the cold waiting for the bus. Luckily, my interview ended 15 minutes before the next bus came, otherwise I would’ve been waiting another 2 hours for the next bus. It should run at least every hour, but I understand that there may not be enough riders to support that.

But, things are in a good space and service could be expanded to make it easier for people to access more parts of the city and suburbs.

Anything else you would like to add?
There’s the southern part of Webster all the way down to Henrietta where there’s no service coverage for OnDemand or regular bus service and I think that gap could be filled.

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Voices of Transit: Leticia Costa Silva

Reconnect Rochester presents Voices of Transit, an ethnography profile blog series that along with the qualitative survey data from over 200 RTS customers, shows how our current bus system helps (and sometimes hurts) transit-dependent riders in their daily lives. Read more about the initiative here and to review the survey results from the Transit Ambassador Pilot Program, click here.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and give us an introduction to your transit story.

I’m from Sao Paulo, Brazil and I moved to Rochester in October 2021 to live with my stepdad. Moving here was a little scary since this was the first time I’ve ever traveled outside of my home country.

I grew up taking the local buses with my mom. In my hometown, you don’t need a car to get around, and it’s a lot easier to get around with the bus because you don’t have to deal with traffic.

I was 7 years old when I first took the bus alone. My mom told me I had to take the bus to school by myself because she had to be at work early that day. I was so afraid that I almost started crying because I didn’t know how to ride the bus without her. But she stayed on the phone with me the entire time and once I got on the bus she had me hand over my phone to the bus driver so that she could tell him which stop I needed to get off for school. After that experience I became more comfortable with taking the city bus by myself to get to school and even to explore the city as I got older. Even if I got lost, I always knew how to get back home by bus.

Tell me about your experience riding the bus in Rochester. What do you like and dislike about it?

I don’t have a license so I ride RTS almost daily to get to work and school. It’s been difficult learning how this system works compared to what I’m used to in Brazil. Here in Rochester, I have to travel to the center of the city to transfer to my next bus. In Sao Paulo, if I’m traveling on the west side of the city I can transfer buses there easily. I don’t need to go to the middle of the city to transfer buses.

I live in North Gates and work in Chili, but there’s no bus that connects both places. So I have to take the #19 toward city center and then take the #18 back out to Chili. It’s a 15 minute drive, but can take over an hour by bus.

Something that I do love about this bus system is the Transit App. I don’t have to worry about remembering to carry a card or stopping somewhere to refill it with money. It’s on my phone and I always have my phone on me. I also like being able to plan out my trips on the App and see how long it will take me to get somewhere.

I also love that there’s air conditioning on the bus which is basically nonexistent on the buses in Brazil!

As someone who’s a new RTS rider, if you could change anything about the bus system and the amenities, what would that be?

I generally like the amenities that I see around, especially the ‘mini houses’ that protect you from the rain and snow. These aren’t too common in Brazil, but I want to see more lighting at the bus stops.

I would also like to see more lines that directly connect each neighborhood instead of people having to go all the way to the Transit Center.

Anything else that you would like to add?

I love that people here care about the customer’s experience. In Brazil, that’s not a thing. But it’s nice to see people like Reconnect Rochester and RTS interviewing people to make changes to the bus system.

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Top 10 Things We’re Most Proud of in 2023

2023 was a non-stop busy year at Reconnect Rochester as we worked on many fronts, both on stage and behind the scenes, to champion better mobility. Check out below the Top 10 things we’re most proud of accomplishing this year. 

We give thanks to all the people and partners who took part in these efforts by bringing your energy and gifts to this work — whether coming out for a community bike ride, being part of our latest street makeover project, reaching out with financial offers of support, or sharing the good word on social media. All of it counts in this mobility movement we’re building together.


Top 10 Things We’re Most Proud of in 2023

(In no particular order of importance)

#10

Elevating Voices and Sharing Stories

This year, we stepped up our efforts to elevate human voices and stories about the joy and challenges of getting around by bus, on bike or on foot. We invited guest bloggers to share their mobility stories on our blog, everyday cyclists to contribute to our #ROCbyBike Instagram posts, and RTS riders to be part of our Voices of Transit blog series (you’ll hear more about that later).

#9

Getting More People on Bikes in Monroe County

Through bike classes, tours, community rides and pit stops, we work to build bike community and to educate and inspire more folks to get on bikes. We’re always innovating and finding new ways to reach people. In 2023, we rolled out a custom bike route assistance service, offered new learn-to-balance & ride classes at City Rec Centers, developed a Bike to School How-To webpage, curated an exhibit on Rochester’s fascinating bike history, and generated buzz with #PizzaByBike photos on social media.

There are so many accomplishments we now have a TOP 10 CYCLING HIGHLIGHTS list if you want to check that out! These efforts are led by our rock star cycling manager, Jesse Peers.

#8

Making Our Streets Safer

On June 10, Reconnect Rochester and our amazing team of partners came together to transform the intersection of Arnett Boulevard and Warwick Avenue in the 19th Ward. This project was our fourth Complete Streets Makeover, completing our ‘quadfecta’ of a project in every quadrant of the city. We published a full project recap in this blog, and as always, captured the magic in film and in photos to inspire other neighborhoods and communities to get out there and take back their streets. 

We followed up the project with our October edition of Rochester Street Films and a screening of The Street Project, a film about the national scourge of road violence and the fight to make our streets safer. The audience was moved by a powerful post-film discussion with 19th Ward community members who have suffered personal loss and taken action for change.

#7

Deepening Our Community Engagement

One of our favorite things is to host quarterly Engagement Breakfasts, open to anyone interested in learning more about our work and plugging in. Every gathering brings a new mix of people, and fruitful connections and conversations. In addition to inviting people in, we are going to where people are, talking up mobility at meetings and events around the community. This year we also introduced Mobility Action Alerts as a new way to engage folks and let you know about real-time opportunities to take action.

#6

Amping Up Our Advocacy

2023 saw us doing more than ever to champion better mobility, whether meeting with lawmakers on our virtual trip to Albany, weighing in on every major road project in Monroe County, rallying people to attend public meetingseducating the media about the language they use, talking up mobility at media appearances and speaking opportunities, or informing the electorate through our candidate questionnaire. Our goal is to be at every table where transportation decisions are being made, partnering with elected officials and holding them accountable for delivering better mobility for our community.

#5

Celebrating Breakthroughs in Road Design

We spent a lot of advocacy energy this year weighing in on the City’s Active Transportation Plan and the Countywide Active Transportation Plan, with the hope that the vision and commitments in these plans will spur a new approach to road design in Monroe County. We saw evidence of that in our biggest win of the year when Monroe County implemented a road diet and installed bike lanes on Elmwood Avenue in Brighton, making it the first County road to have dedicated bike infrastructure. Several City projects have also raised the bar on road design that implements complete streets designs.

#4

Outreach to RTS Riders

This summer, we launched a new Transit Ambassadors outreach program to find out what’s on the minds of RTS riders and gather their ideas for how the system could be improved. We learned so much to inform our own advocacy work, and we delivered the survey results with recommendations to RTS leadership to inform their decision making. We got to know 5 RTS riders especially well through longer-form interviews, and published their stories in a Voices of Transit ethnography series

#3

Measuring Our Progress

How well (or not) is our community providing safe, convenient, and accessible transportation options for people living in Monroe County? We took a step toward answering this question with the selection and addition of 10 transportation data indicators to the ACT Rochester community dashboard. These indicators will help us track community progress, as well as our organization’s own impact. Next we’ll work to set targets and goals for transportation. Where are we now, and where do we want to be?

#2

Raising Funds While Building Community

In June, we hosted our 2nd annual ROC ‘n Roll community bike ride. Over 100 cyclists came out, and we raised nearly $10,000 to help fuel Reconnect Rochester’s work. This annual fundraising ride is part of a larger strategy to diversify and expand our funding sources so we can sustain our growing organization, and we’re lucky to have Fundraising & Development Manager Lindsay Crandall on board now to coordinate the effort!

#1

Building an All Star Staff Team

In 2023, we welcomed Lindsay Crandall (top right) and Cody Donahue (top middle left) to our staff team in the new positions of Fundraising & Development Manager and Director of Policy & Advocacy (respectively). This growth was made possible in great part by the continued support of Dr. Scott MacRae and a generous grant from the ESL Charitable Foundation’s Building Strong Neighborhoods initiative. 

More human power means more impact, and we are loving all the new and expanded ways we’ve been able to pursue our hopes and dreams for mobility in Monroe County.

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Voices of Transit: Anthony Thomas

Reconnect Rochester presents Voices of Transit, an ethnography profile blog series that along with the qualitative survey data from over 200 RTS customers, shows how our current bus system helps (and sometimes hurts) transit-dependent riders in their daily lives. Read more about the initiative here and to review the survey results from the Transit Ambassador Pilot Program, click here.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and give us an introduction to your transit story.

I’m originally from Atlanta, GA, but my mom moved here when I was an infant so I grew up in Rochester.

I’ve been riding RTS for years, before Reimagine RTS and before the Transit Center was built, so I know the “good and bad”, as a frequent rider and longtime customer.

Can you talk about why you ride RTS?

I used to drive a lot but now that I’m pushing 60, I don’t have the patience to sit behind the wheel anymore. I’m also on SSI, so I’m on a fixed income and it’s cheaper to use RTS. I also found that I wasn’t always driving, so if I’m not always driving, then I don’t need to own a vehicle so I got rid of it.

It’s easy to go to a lot and buy a car, but people don’t think about how much it costs to maintain it. I don’t need to worry about that [maintenance] with RTS.

It’s also cheaper than having to pay people gas money to give me a ride.

What do you enjoy about RTS?

The Transit Center is the best thing RTS has done because it’s one place where I can access all of the buses. And Rochester gets cold! So, rather than having everyone wait outside in the winter, it’s nice to have a warm shelter to wait for your bus.

I live a few streets away from the Transit Center and it’s convenient to be able to walk a few blocks away from my apartment with my grocery cart, catch the #3 to go to Walmart, get back on the bus with my groceries and go back home.

I also just learned about the RTS OnDemand service. I have family that live near Emerson St. and it’s hard to visit them using the regular routes because I have to walk far. I love walking but I’m getting older. I have a bad hip and I have a cane, so I can’t walk as far as I used to. So having the OnDemand service drop me off right where I need to so I can visit my older sister is convenient and cuts down on travel time.

I will also say that the security guards at the Transit Center are very pleasant. I do think they could be trained to de-escalate situations better, because I have seen incidents that could’ve gotten out of hand, but overall 85-90% of my experiences with RTS as a frequent rider are pleasant.

Is there anything that you don’t enjoy about RTS? Or anything that you might change?

In terms of the OnDemand service, I don’t like that I have to schedule in advance, that defeats the purpose of OnDemand, especially if I make last minute plans to visit family for example.

Also, over the years I’ve found people who are selling monthly passes for $20 instead of paying $56* which is obviously cheaper especially if I don’t ride the bus all the time. I liked the old passes where you use it and it counts how many times you use it and it adds up to a month. But, getting a monthly pass now can be a waste of money if I don’t ride the bus everyday. If I only use it half the month, then the other days are going to waste. 

The only other thing I would change is how they allow people to hang outside, hustle items and smoke outside of the Transit Center because not everyone is comfortable with smoking and people soliciting you**. Other than that, the Transit Center is a wonderful thing.

What are your thoughts on bus stop amenities? Is there anything that would make you more comfortable while you wait?

There are a lot of conversations that RTS only wants to put shelters in areas that they think are “good areas”. It’s a surprise to me that there’s one on Jefferson Avenue but they don’t keep it clean unfortunately. I think if there will be shelters, there needs to be a crew of people to maintain it.

What’s your hope for the future of the RTS bus system?

Consider lowering the cost of the monthly bus passes or make it so that you are only credited for the rides that you actually take. I would also suggest that it should be mandatory for every driver to lower the bus to make sure it’s accessible for all riders getting on and off the bus. We shouldn’t have to ask the driver to lower the bus. It’s my biggest pet peeve.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I appreciate the customer surveys and feedback session and that RTS is willing to hear from their customers.


*According to the RTS site, “RTS Go caps the amount you spend to a maximum of $3 per day ($1.50 for reduced fares) and $56 per month ($28 for reduced fares). The more you ride with RTS Go, the more you’ll save.”

**Editor’s Note: Prior to publishing this piece, the Reconnect team met with RTS and were notified that the area past the pillars at the Transit Center is public space so they cannot directly manage loitering and other activities, however RTS contracted with the Rochester Police Department to have officers stationed in front of the Transit Center (on RTS property) throughout the day to discourage activities that may be uncomfortable to riders.

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Voices of Transit: Antonio Cruz Zavaleta

Reconnect Rochester presents Voices of Transit, an ethnography profile blog series that along with the qualitative survey data from over 200 RTS customers, shows how our current bus system helps (and sometimes hurts) transit-dependent riders in their daily lives. Read more about the initiative here and to review the survey results from the Transit Ambassador Pilot Program, click here.

Before I moved to Rochester, I lived in NYC and walked and biked everywhere. I have a brain injury and have been disabled for the last 14 years which prevents me from driving. Now, I ride RTS to get everywhere that I need to go. In the winter, I have a fat bike that I use to bike around the city too.

Can you talk about why you ride RTS? What do you like about it?

I live in a building that has a lot of elderly and disabled people with mobility challenges, so I take different routes like the 23, 14, or the 3 to get to Walmart to buy groceries for my neighbors, or to get to Home Depot to buy parts to fix the mechanical problems on their wheelchairs.

I live on a tight income and I don’t have a car so riding the bus is very convenient. I also love the Transit App, it makes it easy to find the bus schedules and figure out where I need to go.

The other day there was a woman with crutches carrying bags getting on the bus and I love that the bus driver waited for her to sit down and find her stability before taking off, that’s important.

Is there anything that you don’t enjoy about RTS? Or anything that you might change?

I use my [Transit] app and I only pay .50 cents for a ride and one time the driver asked for my ID and I was surprised because this hasn’t happened to me before, I didn’t know what he meant. He got angry with me and things escalated quite quickly. The second time it happened, the driver snatched my card out of my hand. Not all bus drivers are like that. But, we are all human, we have our days. 

What are your thoughts on bus stop amenities? Is there anything that would make you more comfortable while you wait?

There are a lot of people drinking and smoking and using the bus shelters as housing. I know that this can’t be avoided but I would prefer to not have to hear [sic] that while waiting for the bus.

What’s your hope for the future of public transit in Rochester?

I work with the National Council on the Arts and I bring culture and art to rural communities around Rochester like Victor, Brockport, Medina, and Geneseo. I don’t drive and biking is 21 miles to Brockport, even longer to Geneseo, so my only option is the bus. But it’s not frequent or in some areas there’s no service. I have heard of OnDemand but I have no idea how it works so I would hope that there’s more service in these areas.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

One of my greatest joys of riding the bus in Rochester is that I get to hear people from all over the world, speaking different languages. Like if I take route 1 down St. Paul near the school for English learners, I hear different languages, people dressing in traditional garments, I love it!

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Better Zoning for Better Mobility: What Mobility Advocates Need to Know about the Rochester ZAP

By Cody Donahue, Director of Advocacy and Policy

The Rochester ZAP Draft came out September 20th with an aim to update the City of Rochester’s zoning code to align with the Rochester 2034 comprehensive plan and provide a blueprint for growth over the next 15 years. A new zoning code should enable the comprehensive plan’s goal of investing in quality infrastructure for walking, biking, rolling and public transportation. While others are providing valuable analysis about housing, Reconnect Rochester has taken a deep look at the proposed plan’s impact on multimodal transportation and the ways this plan can lead Rochester to a less car-dependent future.

Rochester needs to hear your voices to make sure the new Zoning code will lead to better community mobility. Join one of the upcoming hearings or submit your comments online by January 31st. Two public hearings before the Rochester Environmental Commission will be held on the following dates. Verbal comments will be accepted at these hearings:          

  • 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, at City Council Chambers at City Hall, 30 Church St.
  • 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 30 Church St.

Need some help with identifying the things that will support better mobility? Feel free to use Reconnect Rochester’s ZAP Talking Points.

 

In the meantime, here are three things we want you to know about zoning’s impact on transportation. 

1. Zoning enables smarter growth, and smarter growth means denser, human scale neighborhoods. Higher density is good for walkability, wheelchair accessibility, bikeability and public transportation coverage.

What does zoning even have to do with transportation? A lot actually. We believe a new zoning code should encourage smarter land use that puts Rochester on a path towards less car-dependence. Human scale neighborhoods are more equitable to all residents, placing everyday amenities like groceries, pharmacies, daycares, doctor’s offices, cafes and restaurants within walking distance of where people live. Far too often, our City’s amenities are disappearing in favor of sprawled development in neighboring towns. For the 24% of Rochester City households that do not have access to a car (City of Rochester Active Transportation Plan, pg. 4),  it becomes a lot harder to meet basic needs. Denser, human scale neighborhoods enable people to choose to take fewer single-occupancy car trips in favor of walking or public transit. 

So what should change in the draft ZAP to make Rochester a denser, more human scale city?

  • While some upzoning has occurred in the draft plan, the City should review intersections that are well-served by public transportation and maximally upzone a larger area around the intersection. This allows more amenities to be concentrated near where people take the bus.
  • Consider allowing by special permit additional density in residential zones. For example, in Low-Density Residential (LDR), allow Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and duplexes and in Medium-Density Residential (MDR), allow dwelling units in mixed-use buildings.
  • Place a moratorium on new gas stations, drive-thrus and carwashes. We recommend the City of Rochester join other cities such as Santa Rosa and Petaluma, CA to place a moratorium on new gas stations, not only due to their long-term harmful impacts on the environment and residents’ health, but also to encourage the transition to electric vehicles. In addition, new drive-through restaurants and banks and carwashes place priority on vehicle drivers passing through neighborhoods, and the frequent in-and-out traffic increases danger for pedestrians and cyclists. 

2. Zoning rules that require car parking minimums perpetuate an unnecessary amount of parking spaces 

Rochester has taken away parking minimums for car storage in commercial zones in the draft plan (yay!), but retained it in residential areas (boo!). We believe that Rochester should join the 46 other North American Cities that have eliminated parking mandates altogether, including Buffalo and Canandaigua. Findings from Buffalo and other cities following the elimination of parking minimums show that parking was overprovisioned even in residential areas. As a result of eliminating parking minimums, within 4 years Buffalo built 1,000 new homes that wouldn’t have otherwise existed. The City of Austin just became the largest city in America to remove parking minimums too. Why would Rochester keep them when everyone else seems to be jettisoning them?

If we’re going to see a less car-dependent future in Rochester, we need to stop making the number of parking spaces a key factor in building plans. Big shopping days don’t even fill up parking lots anymore. While Downtown and other commercial zones no longer have parking minimums under the new plan, any building with an occupancy posting of 75 people or more will be required to develop a Transportation Access Plan. That seems like a very low threshold. Also, the way the TAP requirements are written create a competing dual mandate to both “encourage alternative modes of transportation” while “not straining public infrastructure”. This requirement seems unworkable on a mass scale, especially in Downtown and should be removed. Yes, transportation demand management has the potential to do good, but in practice we’re concerned the zoning rule will lead to dozens if not hundreds of isolated TAP plans that don’t manage anything. We’re suggesting the ZAP remove this TAP requirement altogether. If they do keep it, remove the clause in article 15.2 about avoiding undue burden on public infrastructure. If anything, we need developers to show how they’re investing in public infrastructure. It seems to us that requiring developers to explain how their plans help the City meet the City’s Comprehensive Access and Mobility Plan developed in 2019 would be a better idea.

3. Bicycle parking is part of zoning too! 

Yes, you heard it here. Zoning plans require indoor, secure bicycle parking. Rejoice! But there are some catches. For instance, the City isn’t requiring itself to build bicycle parking in Open Space Districts (think parks, Parcel 5), where recreational bicyclists and festival goers tend to want bicycle parking. In addition, folks who work in industrial and regional commercial zone buildings won’t necessarily have to be provided indoor, secure bicycle parking. We don’t agree with these exemptions and think Rochester can better meet its climate goals by continuing to install bike parking at all its open spaces. 

Rochester’s new zoning code has made some positive strides, but there’s more we can do to promote a city that is walkable, rideable and rollable. The draft Environmental Impact Statement recognizes (on page 7) that 81% of Millennials and 77% of Baby Boomers prefer to live in walkable, active communities that don’t require access to an automobile, and further indicates that by 2030, 25% of people in the housing market will be seeking housing in transit-supportive neighborhoods. 

Rochester needs to hear your voices to get these changes reflected in the Zoning code. Join one of the upcoming hearings or submit your comments online. 

Need some help with identifying the things that will support better mobility? Feel free to use Reconnect Rochester’s ZAP Talking Points.

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Introducing: Voices of Transit

These profiles were gathered during our Transit Ambassador pilot program which launched in July 2023 and wrapped up at the end of September. Over 10 weeks, two Reconnect Rochester Transit Ambassadors conducted 2-3 minute surveys, capturing the experiences of over 200 RTS riders at 40 different locations. We learned alot about what’s on the minds of RTS riders and their ideas for system improvements. View the survey results and recommendations that we shared directly with RTS leadership.

Disclaimer: All stories in this blog series are reflective of the rider’s experience and may not convey the most up to date and accurate information on the current RTS system. We will add relevant links directly to the RTS website where readers can find more information and inquire with the RTS team for further clarification on routes, bus passes, amenities, schedules and other details that might be pertinent to rider experiences.

Jenelle Harriff (she/her/hers)

I live in North Winton Village, by Winton and Browncroft. So I’m on routes 8, 9 and 10. I was very disappointed that they eliminated the Winton road service because the abbreviated 9 route from Blossom Route to downtown flies! 

So unfortunately the system change made my life a lot tougher and I wasn’t a huge fan [of Reimagine RTS], but most of the time I get the service when I need it. 

OnDemand doesn’t extend past East Avenue and there’s no service to Linden Avenue. So all of those healthcare agencies and offices really cut out my prospective employers. Paychex, Remade Institute, all of the big companies out there don’t have bus service to get to work, unless you’re willing to pay for a $20 uber. So it really compressed my job hunt and it was discouraging. I have several college degrees and a great job history, and it really puts a linchpin in everything. 

Thankfully I was able to find a position in Canandaigua on Main Street, so I trialed it and I was able to get there by bus! It took a while but all the connections worked to RTS Ontario: I went from Blossom Loop and got to Eastview and connected my next bus to Finger Lakes Gaming and took the third shuttle down to the West Avenue Hub, and my new job is one block away.

The lack of transit to a lot of the best paying jobs in our region really made it so I was pushed to relocate and it’s discouraging. I love my neighborhood here in the city and I’m very involved in my community as the Block Captain. I’ve been a vendor at the public market since I was 17 and I’m involved in my local Community Gardens. But I need to independently get around and I don’t like to depend on family or friends to do so.

My local stop doesn’t have any seating or shelter. But, I love the bus stop cubes because even just to put your bags down after shopping because the ground gets muddy in bad weather, just those little touches makes people’s lives easier, or just a place to lean or I’ve seen people who are disabled with walkers using the cubes which is really helpful. It’s nice to see those enhancements.

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#ROCbyBike – A 2019-2022 Season Recap

By: Jesse Peers

In our climate, most people ride bikes in the Spring, Summer and Fall and that’s okay! When the cycling scene slows down in November, our cycling Instagram account would go almost completely dark for several months. The thought struck us in 2019 that we could use that season to feature guest contributions from area cyclists. It would be a fun way to celebrate biking in Rochester. Contributors could give us a glimpse of their biking lifestyle, what it means to them, what got them into riding, their favorite places to ride and groups to ride with, etc. It’s become a neat way for cyclists who bike in different ways for different reasons to find commonality.

The #ROCbyBike series has been a hit! We thought it would be great to consolidate the stories of our contributors from the first three seasons of #ROCbyBike and we hope it inspires you to get out and ride! 

Julie Adner

“Ever since moving downtown in 2014, biking has blossomed from a suburban, canal-side hobby to my city-side pastime…Biking is always an adventure! Adventures and exploring are a few of my favorite things – cycling has become a perfect way to find places you may not look at via foot or car. It encaptures for me a sense of happiness, fun and freedom.”

(five posts Apr 8-20, 2022)

Hezir Aguero

“Even if you are not a diehard, buffed athlete, you can ride your bike…and it’s a ton of fun! From riding around the neighborhood to driving my bike to a State Park to enjoy the silence and beauty of nature, the time spent consistently kickstarts my energy level, brings clarity of mind, and leaves me with a sense of rejuvenation.” – (five posts Jan 1-13, 2021)

Tracey Austin

“The number one perk of riding a bike in Rochester is being outside. We have some very gorgeous places to ride here in Monroe County! And often if you commute, you can hit any one of these parks or trails along the way.”

(six posts Nov 1-13, 2019)

Steve Carter

“It wasn’t until living in Rochester and using the bikeshare system that I was reminded of the [childhood] freedom, flexibility, and joy that comes with cycling. It didn’t immediately click to me when I moved here that riding a bike could not only be a form of recreation, but also a mode of transportation…I started noticing people riding more.”

“For a city to truly start being a more equitable place, access to different modes of transportation play an incredibly large role – and that includes biking.”

(eight posts Jan 15-27, 2021)

Kay Colner

“Rochester has made me the cyclist I am. The roads aren’t too wide or too busy. There are the river and canal trails that connect many excellent places to visit and ride. And the city just isn’t that big. You can get a lot of places in just about the same amount of time it takes to drive there.”

(six posts May 22 – Jun 5, 2020)

Natasha Dailey

“During my journey I have seen the growth of more women of all backgrounds choosing recreational cycling when considering ways to get healthy. Physical activity helps to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as maintaining weight, reduces high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and several forms of cancer.”

(four posts Mar 25 – Apr 8, 2020)

Mike Davis

“Upon moving to Rochester in 1993 I rediscovered my [childhood] love of cycling…I noticed that the roads in this part of the state had much wider shoulders than in the Hudson Valley region where I grew up. I was looking for alternate modes of maintaining my fitness so I decided I would grab my old bike…I now ride my bike [downtown] to work.”

(five posts Nov 20 – Dec 2, 2020)

Hillary Ellis

“Most days it takes the same amount of time or sometimes less time to navigate rush hour traffic by bike. I like biking to work because I get to see things in the city that I wouldn’t normally see if I just took the highway on my commute.”

(six posts Dec 13-26, 2019)

Katie Epner

“I’ve seen parts of our city that I would have never experienced without a bicycle…As long as you’re outside and moving your body, YOU. CAN. DO. THIS. It doesn’t matter if you’re slow or can’t use gears or don’t know what a Presta valve is. This is a community who loves to help each other. The one thing you have to do is get out there.”

(seven posts Nov 6-18, 2020)

Dave Everson

“The thing I love best about cycling is that it keeps taking me to beautiful places that otherwise I never would have seen…I’ve lived and bicycled in Rochester for almost 20 years, and the recent investments in bike infrastructure – while not perfect – have utterly transformed the experience of cycling for transportation, not to mention leisure and exercise.”

(seven posts Dec 18-30, 2020)

Kevin Farrell

“Cycling has played a big part in my life and it will certainly play a big part in Rochester’s revival and beyond. I love this quote by Dr. K.K. Doty: ‘Cyclists see considerably more of this beautiful world than any other class of citizens. A good bicycle, well applied, will cure most ills this flesh is heir to.’”

(six posts May 8-20, 2020)

Brooke Fossey

“I’m a parent living the dream of biking with my family as a means of transportation. For me, being on a bike with my kids is often where some of the best moments of our day happen, where I can connect in a very special way with my kids about the world around us.”

(six posts Feb 21-Mar 4, 2020)

Rachel Gordon

“The most important part of my bike adventures is the people I have met and the friends I have made, above all else. From the Black Girls Do Bike gang…to the Wheel Women of Tryono to my weekend gang I met through WDKX, they are friends who are like family. When it’s cold and dark, and the hill is long and steep we lift each other up!”

(six posts Nov 26-Dec 8, 2021)

Will Haines

“In addition to the health benefits, I find cycling one of the most fun and rewarding things to do in life. It’s like being able to take a mini-vacation whenever I heat out. It gives me a chance to recharge, it gives me perspective.”

(five posts Dec 28, 2019 – Jan 8, 2020)

Jimmie Highsmith

“Biking means the freedom to explore my current world. I got into biking for the great workout. It’s also an opportunity to enjoy nature and hang with friends…I ride my bike to work, musical performances, post office, the store, etc.”

(six posts Feb 26-Mar 10, 2021)

David Hough

“Bicycling is a beautiful way for me to connect with my family…We end most days with a family bike ride either to a big empty parking lot or along the Genesee River path. We often end up with an ice cream from Hedonist, some time to lay in an open field, or with a dandelion bouquet.”

(seven posts Jun 6-29, 2020)

Kim Jenkins

“I’ve heard others say, ‘Riding a bike makes me feel like a kid again.’ I wholeheartedly agree! I have made a lot of different friendships and connections through cycling. We have a lot of different terrain to explore.”

(five posts Nov 29-Dec 11, 2019)

Annette Lein

“I am an avid cyclist who loves to explore all that the Rochester area has to offer. I live and ride in the city and find that biking is a great way to get to know your place in the world.”

(six posts Apr 10-21, 2020)

Evan Lowenstein

“…I still look forward to every bike ride, regardless of conditions. Even when I feel too tired, I know that if I go ‘too-tired’ I will still always feel better…I was diagnosed with ADD at the ripe young age of 51.” Research shows “that cycling is an excellent ‘medicine’ for the downsides of ADD…This research makes a ton of sense to me – when I ride, I feel my focus sharpen, my anxiety wane, and I find that my thoughts become positive.”

(six posts Mar 25 – Apr 5, 2022)

Shana Lydon

“There’s really nothing I enjoy more than riding my bike…[Biking] changes your perspective – literally and figuratively. You see things differently from your bike – you take a different route, catch things you would normally miss and you get to see places and meet people I know I wouldn’t normally get to…The Rochester area is a great place to live if you ride a bike.”

(five posts Jan 29-Feb 10, 2021)

Laura Mack

“I started off cycling because of my family…As I got older, cycling created a way for me to meet other people…I have met a lot of great people due to my love of bikes and riding. The people I have met along the way in the cycling community are some of the best people I know.”

“Cycling is also special to me because my dad has had a Traumatic Brain Injury for the past 10 years and I haven’t been able to ride with him like I used to as a child. Cycling keeps me connected to his adventurous spirit and the way he moved about the world, with joy to be out riding, enjoying the fresh air.”

(seven posts Apr 11-May 7, 2021)

Brian and Karen Managan

“Did you know that Rochester is a small but beautiful diamond in the cycling world? We’ve got a goldmine of a trail network in the Rochester / Monroe County region and beyond. The Finger Lakes Region is known to many as one of the finest regions in the entire country for cycling. The Genesee / Western New York Region [is] our 1st choice place to live.”

(seven posts Dec 31, 2021 – Jan 12, 2022)

Deb Marcuccilli

“Both of my legs were amputated after a bus accident when I was 7 years old. My childhood dreams of riding a bike were realized later when I was introduced to handcycling. My friend Rebecca and I have handcycled a few 5Ks. I went on to handcycle the New York City Marathon. I have a wall covered with racing medals. That is a pretty cool achievement for a woman who, as a 7 year old, did not even have access to a bicycle.”

(six posts Nov 12-24, 2021)

Kecia McCullough

“I rekindled my favorite childhood activity, bicycle riding, at the ripe [age] of 50! I wholeheartedly believe self-care is an extension of self-love, which is why engaging and having fun with physical activities that I enjoy is a top priority for me and a way of life.”

(five posts Jan 24-Feb 5, 2020)

Antoine McDonald

“When I ask myself the question: what does biking mean to me? the first thought to mind was not a word but a feeling: FREEDOM…Inclusivity is the new face of the biking community…Together we can utilize biking as means to a positive end, starting in our own communities spreading its impact out across the world!”

(five posts Jan 14-26, 2022)

Alicia Oddo

“Cycling has helped me come out of my shell, let loose, meet lifelong friends and explore Rochester. As an introvert, I need space and downtime to relax. However, group bike rides and subsequent hangs are the exception for me. Meeting the fine folks in the Rochester Bike Kids, a local cycling group, made cycling less intimidating.”

(four posts Apr 24 – May 7, 2020)

Pat Patton-Williams

“There is a sense of peace I feel in riding. Not only is it refreshing, but it relieves stress and allows me to leave my troubles behind! I…enjoy riding on the trails!”

(seven posts Feb 11-23, 2022)

Jesse Peers

“Most of my miles come from cycling-as-transportation – just running everyday errands. I love the cost savings and the sustainability of this mode of travel.” Plus “cycling breaks down barriers like nothing I’ve ever seen. It has an uncanny power to bring people together.”

(seven posts Nov 15-27, 2019)

James Reynolds

[While attending RIT], I would ride into the city to explore the trails and downtown…[Later] I moved into the City and started riding with the Rochester Bike Kids…There were no better tour guides than the rowdy delinquent friends I made in RBK. [Through them} I discovered the city’s oddities and delights…”

(six posts Mar 12-23, 2021)

Alyssa Rodriguez

“I like to explore trails on my folding bike. It’s one of my favorite ways to experience the outdoors…I love the feel of [a] single lane dirt path; it makes me feel like I’m flying through the woods! There are often beautiful flowers along the trail and I love experiencing the outdoors by bike.”

(four posts Feb 12-24, 2021)

Karen Rogers

“Biking has completely changed the way I see my community. I enjoy the many health benefits from riding. I feel great and it keeps me healthier.”

(five posts Mar 26-Apr 8, 2021)

Lisa Schneider

“I bike for a number of reasons, but mainly because it’s the most enjoyable form of exercise I’ve found. I love being outside, I love seeing what there is to see, I love feeling my muscles doing their thing, and it simply makes my heart happy to be on my bike.”

(seven posts Jan 10-22, 2020)

Andy Scott

“What does cycling mean to me? It is an opportunity to meet others on the path and ride with a purpose…I am a rider for life.”

(five posts Feb 25 – Mar 9, 2022)

Amy Slakes

“Not only did biking lead me to my husband, but it also brought many new friends into my life. We are blessed to live in such a beautiful area for biking. You’ll find an awesome and welcoming biking community in Rochester!”

(five posts Feb 7-19, 2020)

Penny Sterling

“I got into cycling because I was looking for something I could do to help get myself into shape. [I continue riding] because I like what happens when I ride. I do much of my best ‘writing’ while I’m riding. And I’ve seen so many beautiful things…It’s a great way to feel alive.”

(six posts Dec 10-24, 2021)

Georgena Terry

“Like any kid, I loved to ride my bike. As an adult, the bike was an escape into nature and away from work…I like to think I started a movement – bikes which properly fit women, regardless of their height. Biking is way too much fun to miss out on just because the bicycle industry has its head in the sand.”

(five posts Dec 4-16, 2020)

Leslee Trzcinski

“Life slows – and perspective heightens – on two wheels, no matter your objective or how fast the legs turn over. And, there’s just no place better than the amazing, winding perfection of our Erie Canalway Trail in greater Rochester…”

(seven posts Jan 28 – Feb 9, 2022)

Chesea Wahl

“I credit my love for two wheels from going to my father’s vintage motocross races and dabbling in motocross as a little kid. Mountain biking [is my] soul food. Fresh air and epic experiences create an everlasting sense of community: riding, clinics, racing, inclusion, and trail maintenance.”

(seven posts Mar 11-23, 2022)

Guy Zeh

“Biking was my first taste of freedom, back when kids were allowed and encouraged to have it. I appreciated that. Since then, I have ridden for just about every reason anyone would ride – for exercise, transportation, to better the environment, to save money, because it’s more fun than driving, just because it’s fun, because it’s faster than walking, for mental health, to do something fun with the kids, to get away from the kids, because the state doesn’t charge me registration and I don’t have a license plate for big brother!”

(six posts Mar 6-23, 2020)

If you’re interested in sharing your story for our 2024-25 #ROCbyBike series, reach out to Jesse at cycling@reconnectrochester.org.*

*Diversity is important to us. So, it may take a while to fit you in the queue so we can make spots for other voices.

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Where They Stand: 2023 Candidates for Monroe County General Election

Reconnect Rochester surveyed general election candidates for Monroe County Legislature and Executive to learn where they stand on issues related to transportation and mobility.

Questions were designed to give the candidates the opportunity to share their opinions, ideas and vision for a well-connected and accessible community.  We hope this information will help you make an informed decision when you head to the polls on November 7th or Early Voting starting on October 28th (more info on early voting here).  We contacted every candidate in writing and conducted several follow-ups in an attempt to obtain responses from every candidate on the ballot.

Click on the candidate names below to read their full, unedited responses. Candidates are listed in order of the district they are running for.

Some candidates previously answered in our Primary Election Questionnaire, so their answered are repeated here.

**This list includes only candidate who are running contested races for Monroe County Legislature and Executive on the General Election ballot. To check if you are registered to vote, confirm your polling location, and even see a preview of what your ballot will look like, click here.**

Candidates for Monroe County Executive:

Adam Bello

Candidate Email: info@belloformonroe.com

Website: https://belloformonroe.com/

 

1. What are Monroe County’s greatest transportation challenges?

Transportation is a challenge to health/safety, access/equity and sustainability that influences both personal and community wide opportunity.

Providing an equitable transportation system for all users is particularly crucial to help facilitate increased economic and social opportunities for populations and geographic areas that lack mobility options. Regardless of physical ability or mode of transportation everyone should also be able to travel safely and securely. The county’s pedestrian, bicycle, and transit networks connect many communities and provide access to places our residents need to go. However, many residents are not located near these networks or are unable to use them. People walking and biking in Monroe County, regardless of age, ability, income, or race/ethnicity, should be able to travel safely and comfortably in and between communities. Ensuring that low income, elderly, disabled, and young people have access is vital to increasing quality of life and offering a brighter economic future for all the County’s residents.

Transportation decisions that support environmental and sustainability goals are critical as the transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. Additionally, there is substantial cost associated with building, operating, maintaining, and repairing transportation assets including roads, bridges, culverts, sidewalks, and support facilities. It is important to convene the transportation community to identify federal and state resources to maintain current transportation infrastructure as well as investments in transportation expansion and enhancements.

I am proud that Monroe County is leading the effort to address these transportation challenges. Monroe County just completed the Countywide Active Transportation Plan (CATP), its vision is that people using all modes of transportation and regardless of age, ability, income, or race/ethnicity, will be able to travel safely between transit and active transportation reducing congestion and road maintenance needs. The CATP also emphasizes the importance of active transportation in addressing the climate crisis. Additionally, Monroe County is in the process of developing a climate action plan that is aimed at addressing sustainability, climate crisis issues county wide, and reducing GHG emissions.

2. What role can the Monroe County Executive play in addressing our transportation challenges?

The County Executive is able to lead and convene stakeholders who can help identify community priorities, and work together to develop and implement a plan to address them. When I took office, I made a commitment to develop a Countywide Active Transportation Plan (CATP). Developed over 18 months, the CATP, is the result of a collaborative partnership with Monroe County and the Genesee Transportation Council to engage local, regional, and state agencies, alongside community stakeholders, transportation experts, and the county’s residents. This comprehensive approach serves not only as a roadmap for decision-makers, stakeholders, and community members, ensuring alignment and cohesiveness, but also strengthens the County’s ability to procure funding for transformative projects and initiatives enhancing our transportation infrastructure.

The CATP outlines recommendations and strategies to make walking and cycling safer, more convenient, and more appealing for residents of all ages and abilities. The CATP process combines in-depth data collection with inclusive public engagement to promote health, equity, and community resilience in Monroe County. To begin addressing disparities through the CATP, Monroe County intentionally engaged with stakeholders and identified potential policy and program actions to increase access to transportation networks, and developed a framework for prioritizing investments equitably. Plan recommendations will help shape future transportation improvement projects that enhance safety, connectivity and transit access.

I am proud to report that the completion of the CATP marks a significant step toward a vision for enhancing active transportation infrastructure across the county, building a safer environment for active transportation, reducing congestion, and contributing to a more sustainable future for Monroe County.

3. The transportation sector in the Genesee Finger Lakes region is responsible for 33% of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to poor air quality, poor health outcomes, and overall climate change. Please share your ideas for reducing emissions as it relates to transportation in Monroe County.

When I took office, I made a commitment to address climate change both at the county operations level as well as community wide. Our Climate Action Plan (CAP) fulfills a promise I made to combat the impacts of climate change on our region. The CAP, is a comprehensive, strategic effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and related environmental impacts of climate change. The CAP Phase I, developed during my first term and adopted by the County Legislature, established an aggressive goal of 80% reduction in GHG by 2050 for County operations. The sectors within the County operations targeted for GHG reductions include Buildings and Facilities, Transportation Fleets, Expressway Lighting and Signals, Pure Waters, Infrastructure and Solid Waste Facilities. Several priorities established in Phase I are already underway including the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at nine county-owned locations for county and public use. Each location is open to the public and will help support the use of clean vehicle technology across the county. The project is funded with grants from New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Each location has multiple charging stations and allows up to four vehicles to charge at a time. By investing in this type of infrastructure, we’re also fulfilling some of the commitments we made as part of the County’s Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project will help expand the clean energy infrastructure that is available for public use in Monroe County. The use of electric vehicles locally contributes to improved air quality. Electric vehicles help achieve the County’s climate initiatives, and encouraging the use of electric vehicles helps pave the way for other forms of clean transportation.

The CAP Phase II, which is currently under development, will establish GHG emission reduction goals for the entire community, including residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal activities. I expect the CAP Phase II will include a more expeditious move towards electrifying buildings and vehicles, establishing opportunities for community wide scraps and organics recycling, exploring affordable green community power, and building more efficient buildings.

I believe that the County must lead by example, but needs community support and engagement to achieve meaningful and lasting GHG emission reductions. The Climate Action Plan is a framework for prioritizing future policies and projects to reduce GHG emissions. An audit of the plan will occur in 2025 and further reviews will occur every five years to measure the county’s progression towards its goals. The results of the audits will be public and will drive decision-making. We have already made great progress in reducing our carbon footprint and becoming more sustainable, but there is still much more work to be done. I remain committed to this important effort so together we can create a healthier, more resilient and equitable community for generations to come.

4. The concept of “Complete Streets” focuses on designing our roads to be safe for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. How can Monroe County work with local municipalities and New York State toward that vision?

I am committed to a complete streets vision and am already working with local municipalities and NYS to successfully implement that vision.

As I have already referenced, the development and completion of the CATP is the result of a successful collaborative partnership. Developed over 18 months, the CATP, is the result of a collaborative partnership with Monroe County and the Genesee Transportation Council to engage local, regional, and state agencies, alongside community stakeholders, transportation experts, and the county’s residents. The CATP incorporates the vision of complete streets to enable safe access and mobility for all users. Additionally as we move forward to successfully implement this CATP, it is critical that there is continued coordination between county, town and state agencies. Monroe County is committed to this coordination to identify priority projects in support of active transportation infrastructure and plan implementation.

My administration wants to be helping assist with active transportation within our towns, I recently announced a new program that aims to encourage towns to add more sidewalks. This program aligns with our Complete Streets Policy and with our vision of a county that prioritizes the needs of its residents. The program offers towns up to 50% of the cost of sidewalk installations to make these crucial infrastructure improvements more affordable and attainable for our towns. Sidewalks play a pivotal role in creating safe and accessible pedestrian networks to help people of all backgrounds, including those with mobility challenges, to safely travel in Monroe County. The Town of Perinton is the first town to participate in this newly launched sidewalk initiative. I look forward to partnering with additional towns so that there will be sidewalks across our community.

In April, I was proud to announce with Town Supervisor Bill Moehle and County Legislators Susan Hughes-Smith, Linda Hasman, Howard Maffucci and Albert Blankley that bike lanes would be installed along Elmwood Avenue from South Goodman Street to Twelve Corners. The new lanes were a part of a Monroe County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) rehabilitation project to enhance connectivity throughout Brighton, and make it safer for kids, parents and anyone who bikes or walk along Elmwood Avenue. Monroe County worked closely with Supervisor Bill Moehle and his Public Works Department to successfully plan and implement this project that will seek to attract residents, spark economies, ensure transportation equity, promote public health, and address climate change.

5. Why should Monroe County residents who care about safer streets, better mobility, and better public transit vote for you?

Before I took office, I was constantly asked “what does County government even do?” Since I have been in office, I am asked, “How can County Government help with this problem?” The difference between now and then is that people now know that County government can and will help. For our community who is concerned about safer streets, better mobility and better transit, the County has spent the past 18 months developing a CATP for safer streets, better mobility and connections to public transit. I made a commitment to convene our community and develop and complete a plan and it is here. I would like to work for you over the next four years to begin to implement it.

Mark Assini

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Candidates for Monroe County Legislature:

Legislature District 3:

Marvin L Stepherson

Candidate Email: Friendsofstepherson@gmail.com

Website: marvinstepherson.com

 

1. What are Monroe County’s greatest transportation challenges?

I would believe it is the lack of options: Job searching ability, commuting to a job, affordability, bus pass, car ownership, etc.

2. What role can the Monroe County Legislature play in addressing our transportation challenges?

We must engage the ones most directly impacted by it and take the suggestions to the planning stages to draft the goals in a tangible vision. and then get all stakeholders at the table to commit to the task of addressing the issues

3. The transportation sector in the Genesee Finger Lakes region is responsible for 33% of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to poor air quality, poor health outcomes, and overall climate change. Please share your ideas for reducing emissions as it relates to transportation in Monroe County.

We have to look at creating communities that are proactive in placing resources within the community to help minimize transportation challenges and reduce the practices that play a part in negatively impacting the environment.

4. The concept of “Complete Streets” focuses on designing our roads to be safe for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. How can Monroe County work with local municipalities and New York State toward that vision?

The County can invite the local and State representatives to a meeting to discuss the designing of greener spaces that connect towns and Urban Communities. The more stakeholders involved the better planning and the higher quality of input.

5. Why should Monroe County residents who care about safer streets, better mobility, and better public transit vote for you?

My resume illustrates the work, and volunteer efforts I have demonstrated through the years, and it is that record I plan to build upon with my continued public service to this County.

Tracy DiFlorio

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

Legislature District 5:

Terry Daniele

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Richard Milne

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Legislature District 8:

Michael DiTullio

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Mark Johns

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Legislature District 9:

Mel Callan

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Paul Dondorfer

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Legislature District 10:

Howard Maffucci

Candidate Email: howardmaffucci@gmail.com

Website: howardmaffucci.com

 

1. What are Monroe County’s greatest transportation challenges?

The demographics and climate of our region create some challenges. Our region’s population lives in a wide area with a spread out population outside the city. That requires people to drive for work, family, and leisure activities. Our most significant challenge is having a region-wide active transportation plan embracing Complete Streets to make roads more pedestrian and bike-friendly in places that make sense. We must recognize there are times of the year when it is difficult for people to bike and walk. Our regional public transit system needs improvement.

As someone who bikes regularly, we must find ways to slow traffic down in places with dense populations. We must also ensure pedestrians can cross streets safely. I strongly support the active transportation development process.

2. What role can the Monroe County Legislature play in addressing our transportation challenges?

The county must continue to update its Active Transportation Plan and work collaboratively with other governments. As stated above, ensuring road updates in our area address the needs of pedestrians and bikers must be considered in road project planning. The county should also seek and support state and federal grants to assist in implementing Active Transportation Plans.

3. The transportation sector in the Genesee Finger Lakes region is responsible for 33% of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to poor air quality, poor health outcomes, and overall climate change. Please share your ideas for reducing emissions as it relates to transportation in Monroe County.

We should continue to promote the evolution of EV driving. Our family is currently all EV. We own two electric vehicles. We have ‘experimented’ with long trips and have found high-speed charging to continue to improve. Opening the Tesla networks to all other EVs will be a huge benefit.

We should also promote the conversion to heat pumps and solar technology for homes and businesses.

4. The concept of “Complete Streets” focuses on designing our roads to be safe for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. How can Monroe County work with local municipalities and New York State toward that vision?

Please see my answer to question 1 and 2.

5. Why should Monroe County residents who care about safer streets, better mobility, and better public transit vote for you?

I’ve embraced EV driving and continue to engage with people who doubt the benefits of driving electric. I share my experiences regularly on social media, having been involved since 2013 in the evolution of the emerging electric vehicle technology, as my first three vehicles were hybrids.

Locally, I have assisted in implementing cross-walk improvements in my community and will continue to promote Complete Streets as part of community Active Transportation Plans.

I admit I am not an expert in transportation improvements. I will always listen and work with experts who can assist our region in embracing data-driven solutions to improve traveling as pedestrians, bikers, drivers, and public transportation riders travel in our area.

Nancy Lewis

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Legislature District 13:

Michael Yudelson

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Ethan Greene

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

5. Why should Monroe County residents who care about safer streets, better mobility, and better public transit vote for you?

Legislature District 14:

Sue Hughes Smith

Candidate Email: Sue@SueHughesSmith.com

Website: SusanHughesSmith.com

 

1. What are Monroe County’s greatest transportation challenges?

The current system is designed around individual, private cars and contributes to the interrelated problem of sprawl and exacerbates inequality. We need to redesign our transportation system to be more equitable, to create access to economic opportunity, and to provide individuals with the freedom to move safely by other modes including public transit, walking and biking.

2. What role can the Monroe County Legislature play in addressing our transportation challenges?

Monroe County has taken a good first step in developing an Active Transportation Plan that focuses on developing a more equitable system. The next task is to begin to implement the plan. The County Executive must direct DOT to review every road project and incorporate the appropriate design features like sidewalks and bike lanes. The County Executive must require DOT to change its complete streets policy from preferring shoulders to preferring bike lanes. The County Legislature can continue to advocate for those needed changes both publicly at committee and full legislature meetings, and privately with staff, and administration. The County Legislature can and should take the step to require a portion of the budget for Monroe County DOT be directed to implementation of the Active Transportation Plan.

3. The transportation sector in the Genesee Finger Lakes region is responsible for 33% of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to poor air quality, poor health outcomes, and overall climate change. Please share your ideas for reducing emissions as it relates to transportation in Monroe County.

There are three pieces to solving this situation: (1) Provide fast, reliable, frequent public transit – focus on a few major roads and incentivize future building redevelopment to locate and occur along those lines; (2) Expand bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to create a safe and more equitable alternative; (3) Facilitate and build more EV charging stations to encourage the electrification of vehicles

4. The concept of “Complete Streets” focuses on designing our roads to be safe for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. How can Monroe County work with local municipalities and New York State toward that vision?

Monroe County roads pass through many of our towns and villages providing us with the opportunity to partner with other communities in redesigning our infrastructure. The Legislature approved a 50% matching cost-share program to construct sidewalks along County roads. The County will pay 50% and the Town/Village would pay the other 50%. This is a significant change as previously all sidewalk costs were left to the Town/Village. I hope that communities take advantage of this pilot program and that the Legislature moves to make it a permanent offering.

5. Why should Monroe County residents who care about safer streets, better mobility, and better public transit vote for you?

My top concerns include addressing community needs that will improve public health, and the environment in ways that create a more resilient, equitable and prosperous county. One of the best ways to accomplish those goals is to create safer streets with more mobility options. I’m already working on this vision and will continue to advocate for the changes we need.

Pat Reilly

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Legislature District 16:

Dave Long

Candidate Email: LegislatorLong@gmail.com

Website: www.davelongformonroe.com

 

1. What are Monroe County’s greatest transportation challenges?

I think the County learned a great deal from the creation of the Active Transportation Plan (ATP) and I was very glad to support that effort during my term in office. Challenges with equity, climate change, and funding are the greatest. Perhaps another more overarching challenge is how to leverage the various work-products and studies that have focused on transportation improvements in a way that moves forward in unison.

2. What role can the Monroe County Legislature play in addressing our transportation challenges?

Local jurisdictions are responsible for building and maintaining active transportation infrastructure so the County plays a limited role in the facility selection and design of individual routes (ex. the City of Rochester has its own ATP). Through legislation and funding, I see the County Legislature as playing a pivotal role as a body to help see through the idea of an “active transportation network” that serves as a resource for communities all over Monroe County. Also, the Legislature can help to make sure projects in areas like our Department of Transportation and those contained in our 5-year Capital Improvement Program are adhering to ATP recommendations.

3. The transportation sector in the Genesee Finger Lakes region is responsible for 33% of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to poor air quality, poor health outcomes, and overall climate change. Please share your ideas for reducing emissions as it relates to transportation in Monroe County.

I’ve been proud to be a part of adopting the first Climate Action Plan (CAP) which seeks to reduce the County’s greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 2019 levels by 2050. I am supportive of seeing this work through in my role on the Legislature. Also, I am supportive of CAP phase 2 which is focused on the emissions produced community-wide (outside of the direct control of the County government). I think these initiatives are ongoing/living efforts which will require continued collaboration of our elected officials in order to be successful.

4. The concept of “Complete Streets” focuses on designing our roads to be safe for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. How can Monroe County work with local municipalities and New York State toward that vision?

Similar to my response to question two (above), I see the County as best-suited to be a connector and convener of communities to help connect in our area. Also, the County can work to create policy and enact legislation that brings entities together and incentivizes collaborative solutions to improving transportation for all.

5. Why should Monroe County residents who care about safer streets, better mobility, and better public transit vote for you?

I’m a husband and father of three who wants Monroe County to be the best place to live, learn, work and, play. I truly believe making our community more easily accessed is better for everyone and for future generations. I want these things for my family and neighbors because I care about our environment and taking actions to address climate change by making it easier to get around via means other than a car. Most of all, the planning done with the Active Transportation Plan and the Climate Action Plan require dedicated law makers to help see them through – I want to be part of the that team.

Joe Carbone

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Legislature District 18:

Lystra McCoy

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Sean Delehanty

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Legislature District 20:

Jaime Erskine-Pettit

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Robert Colby

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Legislature District 21:

Oscar Brewer Jr.

Candidate Email: thepeoplesslate@gmail.com

Website: https://www.peoplesslateroc.com/

 

1. What are Monroe County’s greatest transportation challenges?

People need to be able to get where they’re going cheaply. Sometimes that’s not possible or efficient for people who don’t have a car.

2. What role can the Monroe County Legislature play in addressing our transportation challenges?

The county should be investing in public transportation opportunities to help low-income folks in our community. No one should be too poor to get where they need to go. I know first-hand the challenges of transportation in a county that’s built for people driving cars. In the County Legislature, I will be a voice for people who need transportation support.

3. The transportation sector in the Genesee Finger Lakes region is responsible for 33% of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to poor air quality, poor health outcomes, and overall climate change. Please share your ideas for reducing emissions as it relates to transportation in Monroe County.

Public transportation is a must. We need cheap, efficient public transportation options available to reduce reliance on cars. Also, making streets safer for people walking would encourage more people to walk to where they need to go.

4. The concept of “Complete Streets” focuses on designing our roads to be safe for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. How can Monroe County work with local municipalities and New York State toward that vision?

We need to put people at the center of what we’re doing at all levels of government. Too often, politicians make decisions to benefit developers and big money interests. If we listen to our neighbors in the community, we’ll be able to prioritize what people need. That includes making sure sidewalks are safe for pedestrians and bike lanes are available for cyclists.

5. Why should Monroe County residents who care about safer streets, better mobility, and better public transit vote for you?

I know first-hand what it’s like not to have a car. I strongly believe in public transportation, which lets people live their lives without having to own a vehicle. I’m a man of the people fighting for the people. And that’s exactly what I’ll do in the County Legislature.

Santos Cruz

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Legislature District 27:

Rose Bonnick

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

David Ferris

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

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Welcoming Cody Donahue!

Please join us in warmly welcoming Cody Donahue, who joined the growing Reconnect Rochester staff this month as the Director of Policy and Advocacy. Cody brings tremendous professional skills and experience and a personal passion for our cause. We feel very lucky to have found someone with “all the right stuff” to round out our dynamic staff team working day-in and day-out to boldly advocate for a transportation system that provides mobility options and resource access for everyone. 

Cody will play an integral role in driving (bad pun) the policy and advocacy action that will advance Reconnect Rochester’s mission. He’ll provide leadership and expertise in transportation public policy and implement innovative strategies to influence decision-making at both the grassroots and grass-tops levels, amplify community voices, and mobilize people to take action on mobility issues in our community. 

Find out how Cody landed here and what inspires him to advocate for mobility in the message below. 

Cody Donahue

Greetings Reconnecters! I am honored to join the Reconnect Rochester staff and especially excited to collaborate with all of Reconnect’s passionate volunteers and community advocates. I have been impressed for years by Reconnect Rochester’s respectful approach to partnering with government, community organizations and the People to achieve safer streets and more equitable multimodal transportation options. So when I saw this role open up, I biked right over to submit my application!

Coming into this new policy and advocacy role, I hope to amplify the diversity of voices calling for a robust transportation network that makes it easy for anyone – regardless of physical or economic ability – to get around Monroe County. You and your networks are absolutely essential to getting change to happen and I can’t wait to hear what you are passionate about!

Over the last 20 years, I’ve held a variety of nonprofit leadership roles from international women’s and children’s rights programs to shared administrative services with New York State Planned Parenthoods. As an almost lifelong vegan, I’ve been active in national animal rights advocacy (happy to share recipes!). My lifestyle is car-lite, living as close as possible to work and amenities and using public transportation or cycling to work. In Rochester, I’ve run-commuted a lot, including in the snow (I have the Strava to prove it!)! My family and I live in the 19th Ward and love visiting Monroe County’s libraries, parks and festivals.

p.s. Even before joining the team, back in June Cody and his family came out for the Complete Streets Makeover of Arnett & Warwick in their 19th Ward neighborhood. Check out his cameo appearance in the project short film!

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It’s Time for a Minimum Grid

Jesse Peers (white man) stands in front of Reconnect Rochester door at the Hungerford Building.

By Jesse Peers, Cycling Manager at Reconnect Rochester

As many readers and advocates know, Rochester’s first Bike Master Plan was created in 2011. After more than a decade of investment with that plan as a guide, we’ve made significant progress. We’ve “leveled up” in the League of American Bicyclists’ quadrennial assessment from Honorable Mention to Bronze. Since most cities that are intentionally making progress in terms of bikeability get awarded Bronze, Rochester is in good company (i.e., we’re “average” / “decent”).

After the first initial decade of investment, the City of Rochester recognized it was time to take a step back and reassess. After all, we don’t want to get stuck at Bronze, perpetuate mediocrity, or worst of all – diminish to just checking off a complete streets box without attaining meaningful, continuous and safe connections. The creation of Rochester’s first ever Active Transportation Plan (and the accompanying update of the Bike Master Plan) in 2022-23 served as this step back. Boston’s Toole Design, one of the most respected firms in the country, was hired to create the plan. More on this plan in a bit…

As we’ve noted before, the most significant shortfall in Rochester’s bikeability is the piecemeal, scattered nature of bicycle facilities. If the City keeps doing “what we can, where we can” for cyclists, only giving them “underutilized parking space” when bike lanes and on-street parking conflict, this disjointed nature will continue.

If cyclists are only given “underutilized parking space” when bike lanes and on-street parking conflict, this disjointed nature will continue.

Disconnected segments don’t create a network

For the average person on a bike, who after all is who the City should be creating its bike network for, a disappearing bike lane on a busy road is a lost cause. After a decade of investment, we’ve mostly got piecemeal, disconnected bike lanes, hence no true network yet (the ATP admits this!). If the City wants to lessen emissions and car-dependence, along with getting more women, kids, and older adults on bikes, a greater emphasis must be put henceforward on connectivity.

Excerpts from the City’s Active Transportation Plan

It’s time for a Minimum Grid

In the coming years, as the City looks to implement the Active Transportation Plan, Reconnect Rochester urges the City of Rochester to concentrate on what is called a Minimum Grid bike network in the near term. What is a Minimum Grid? It’s a bare bones, seamless, fully connected network of high-comfort bikeways: at least one continuous bike facility for all ages and abilities in the north-south direction, from one end of the city to the other going through downtown, and a complementing bike facility in the east-west direction from one end to the other through downtown. Because of Rochester’s small size, if we attained that minimum grid and connected it with high quality, well-signaged bike boulevards, that might be enough to get us up to Silver. We could become one of the country’s hidden gems for bikeability.

As Planner Jeff Speck says in this great segment, “It is not unusual to see cities jump very quickly in their cycling population at the moment they cross that threshold from not having an effective, comprehensive system to having a more comprehensive system.” In other words, how many miles of scattered bike lanes doesn’t matter as much as how safe, seamless & stress-free those miles are. Less is more, and we need to shift emphasis and metrics from quantity to quality.

A few examples of cities who have focused political will on attaining a minimum grid and crossed that threshold:

  • Sevilla, Spain built its 50-mile grid in four years, “in time for politicians to brag about [the major biking improvements] in their next campaign.”
  • Victoria, British Columbia’s All Ages and Abilities (AAA) Cycling Network is nearing completion. Next year, 95% of residents will be within a two-minute bike ride of a AAA route! This completion comes 8 years after adopting their plan.
  • Paris, France has been transformed into one of the world’s best cycling cities since Mayor Anne Hidalgo took office in 2014. 52 bike lanes were installed this summer alone.
  • Montreal’s Mayor Valérie Plante is having 200 km of protected bike paths installed in a 5-yr timeframe.
  • New Britain, Connecticut built a very comprehensive network of bicycle infrastructure in ten years. 

Fortunately for us in Rochester, a minimum grid is exactly what our new Active Transportation Plan is recommending, based on community feedback and expert analysis. The ATP calls it the Bike Spine Network, which would hopefully connect someday to the proposed countywide active transportation network envisioned in the County’s Active Transportation Plan. Consultant Toole Design notes that “it is essential that bike lanes be separated from traffic” “on high-speed/high-volume streets [on this spine network]. During the planning process, Toole urged the City to concentrate political will on establishing a minimum grid bike network in the “near term.” Unfortunately, specific timeline goals didn’t make their way into the final document.

Recommended spine network in dark blue; dotted lines are already completed segments, such as the Genesee Riverway Trail and East Main cycletrack between Goodman and Culver.

So Rochester has a better vision. ✔ We’ve got our action-oriented blueprint. ✔ It’s going to take a lot of political will, hardened resolve, and leadership to see this through. Unlike comprehensive plans like Rochester 2034, the Active Transportation Plan doesn’t have to be voted on and adopted by City Council. It’s not the law of the land. Its recommendations just have to be “considered” by project managers and engineers on a case by case basis.

Now let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: On-street parking will have to be sacrificed on certain roads to accommodate the seamless, high-comfort grid. It’s time to be more intentional with where we put our bike infrastructure (and perhaps where we don’t put it as well): to hunker down and determine what those select corridors will be where on-street parking doesn’t win the day over the safety and comfort of vulnerable road users.

At Reconnect Rochester, our job will be to relentlessly point to the ATP and its recommendations for this Bike Spine Network. When an upcoming road project comes along on one or more of those proposed spines, we are going to ask you to join us. When a road project comes along that isn’t envisioned for the Spine Network, we’ll still advocate for safer, complete street designs; we just won’t go at it full-gusto for bike infrastructure as we do with the proposed Spines. After all, if we’re asking the City to concentrate political will (“focus investments”) on fewer, more meaningful bike miles, it only makes sense for us to fight hard for the most important wins. Hopefully in the not-too-distant-future, that Spine Network will be attained and we’ll see ridership soar!