No Comments

“Flower City Feeling Good” Summer Group Rides: Building Community & Learning Road Lessons Along the Way

By Jesse Peers, Cycling Manager at Reconnect Rochester

After taking a bike class in 2013 which made me much more comfortable biking around, in 2014 I adopted the bike as my primary mode of transportation. Since biking short distances was easy and fun, it wasn’t long before I wanted to ride with other people. In May 2015 I took our son and we went on our first group ride: a tour of public art as part of RoCo’s Ride It exhibit. Riding in such a large group was euphoric! I knew I wanted more.

That summer I started attending the weekly Unity Ride at Bulls Head Plaza, then in its first season. The people, the diversity of the crowd, and the Unity Ride’s message – cyclists coming together to stand for non-violence and community – kept me coming back each week. I also started attending the City’s Tuesday Guided Bike Tours sponsored by the Recreation Department. That’s how I got to know Richard DeSarra, who was leading those rides at the time. For decades, Richard was the godfather of all-things-cycling in Rochester. If there was anything happening related to bikes, he had his fingerprints all over it. Most notably, he cofounded the Rochester Cycling Alliance with Jon Schull and was instrumental in the creation of Rochester’s first Bicycle Master Plan.

Richard was a perfect bicycle tour guide. Not only was he a natural at herding a large group of cyclists across the city, but he just knew so much about local history, architecture and culture that anywhere we went, I’d learn something new. It was through those Rec Dept guided bike tours that I got to know Rochester by bike, particularly the Genesee Riverway Trail and other scenic locations.

Eventually Richard’s health started deteriorating and he wasn’t able to lead the tours anymore, though his advocacy and leadership continued until he passed away in 2019.

For several years, Oscar Wilson led the tours and did a great job growing the community. As with many things, the pandemic threw a wrench in those weekly tours and this year, the Recreation Department felt it was time for a reboot of sorts. The City reached out to Reconnect Rochester to see if we’d be interested in organizing and leading the weekly tours. We jumped at the unexpected opportunity and asked longtime collaborator Exercise Express and R Community Bikes to help.

We changed the night to Wednesdays and decided to use these fun community rides to familiarize residents with bike infrastructure, and to focus the tours on the newly expanded Bike Boulevard network.

For those unfamiliar with bike boulevards, they are a low-stress network of mostly residential side streets that parallel busy arterials. Traffic calming measures such as speed bumps are installed to slow down and even deter car traffic, so cyclists have a better experience. Over time, wayfinding signage will be added for cyclists. Until this year, Rochester barely had any Bike Boulevards. Many are probably familiar with the first in the area: the Harvard/Canterbury boulevard from Hillside Ave/Cobbs Hill to Monroe Ave.

In 2021, the City added 20 miles to the network! When you include the next phase of boulevards (the yellow routes above, which are absolutely cyclable now!), the future Running Track Bridge connection, and pre-existing trails, you end up with a bike network like this:

Thanks to Stefan Korfmacher for creating this stylized map for us to generate interest and discussion. Click here for a key.

Here is the best thing about the Bike Boulevards: They are Rochester’s first and up to this point only centrally planned bike network. Whereas bike infrastructure on arterials is too often done in piecemeal fashion “where feasible” with no overall view to connectivity, the Bike Boulevards are the first instance of Rochester zooming out and implementing a centrally coordinated plan to connect the city. As a result, from one end of a particular boulevard to the other, there are no gaps. Keep in mind these boulevards cross major, busy streets but for the most part avoid cycling along them.

It’s important to note that the City views these bike boulevards as complementary to, not substitutes for, on-street infrastructure on arterials. But the boulevards in large part can get you where you need to go within the city comfortably as long as you’re willing to go a little bit out of your way. Someday the network could expand to look like this.

Our hope over the summer was to build up bike traffic along this growing network ahead of time and amp up excitement for construction. We rode from a different Rec Center each week and each ride was about seven miles so it could be comparable in length to other community rides like the Unity Ride. Over the course of the series, we were able to show how these various routes connect with each other to form a usable network. Here are all of our different rides over the summer combined in one image.

Map courtesy of Bob Williams at Genesee Transportation Council

Great emphasis was put on the City’s north side, where not much bike infrastructure is present and where many Rec Centers were kept open during the pandemic due to the vital support they provide to their surrounding communities. Participants enjoyed riding along the east-west boulevards in this area that serve as wonderful alternatives to Norton, Clifford, and Bay.

Though we weren’t able to ride every boulevard this summer, you can see how these low-stress routes really do connect the City! From our marker campaign, we knew residents wanted an easier way to bike to the Zoo and to the Public Market. Well, this bike network delivers! The El Camino Trail, which you can get to via bike boulevards, ends at the Seneca Park Zoo and the Public Market is approachable via bike boulevards from all four directions!

The best part of the series was having participants ride through neighborhoods they had never seen before. Maplewood and 14621 just west of RGH got a lot of love. To my surprise, participants’ favorite ride was the longest one with the most hills! To wrap up the series, we stopped by Exercise Express, which is situated on the Ames Street bike boulevard, for some treats. Along with some group photos, here is some of the neat stuff we spotted along our journeys:

No Comments

20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series: University of Rochester

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

Presenting the sixth in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this next installment, we chose the University of Rochester Medical Center on Elmwood Avenue 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 U of R within 20ish minutes on a bike or scooter. Thanks again to Brendan Ryan and Mike Governale for their help putting these maps together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory surrounding the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), here’s Tracey Austin sharing her personal travel-by-bike experiences.


When I started commuting by bike 14 years ago, I didn’t realize how much ground a bike can cover in a short amount of time. And I’m not a fast rider! It was surprising to me that commuting by bike was almost as fast as driving my car to work. And when I started working at the University of Rochester, I was happy to find out I could save even more time and money on parking by biking to work.

Over the years, I have found that there is so much within reach while biking. There are many wonderful parts of Rochester within a very reasonable 20 minute ride to and from the University. Let me share with you a few of the discoveries I’ve made!

One of the best discoveries by far is that UR is only a 12-minute pedal away from the RTS Downtown Transit Center. Even better, this commute runs along the beautiful Genesee Riverway Trail! If you don’t have a bike or prefer not to bring one on the bus, you can rent a HOPR bike or scooter right at the Transit Center. Google Maps is a great navigating tool for this route. These photos show the Google Maps directions while also highlighting bike boulevards around the area. This is a very exciting prospective route for someone wanting to commute from a surrounding suburb who would rather take the bus for the first part of their trip.

I have driven my car to work only once since starting at UR. The annual parking pass can cost several hundred dollars on up. Also, UR has recently added a daily $5 occasional parking pass so you can just pay for the days you are not able to walk or bike. Not only do I love not paying for parking, but I’ve realized that I could save time by biking to work once I account for time spent walking or shuttling from my assigned parking lot!  This is definitely worth testing out to see if it may work for you, even if only in the warmer months of the year.

There’s no doubt UR is a hot spot for bikes! When Pace/Zagster was in our region, UR had the most utilized bikeshare station of the entire network. Now with 3 new HOPR hubs on our campuses, we are well on our way to being another great connection point—not only for students and employees, but for anyone needing to rent a bike in the area.

Having my bike at work adds convenience during the day, too: if I have to leave for a meeting, I don’t have to walk all the way to a car in a distant parking lot; my bike is parked right outside my office at an easily accessible rack. And I can go for a leisurely ride on my lunch break, because I am close to both the Genesee Riverway Trail and the Erie Canal Trail. These scenic trails also provide great commuting options and a way to get off the busy surrounding streets.

Speaking of lunch, taking the pedestrian bridge from River Campus over to the 19th Ward gives cyclists 10 minute access to Brooks Landing. Expand your horizons beyond just College Town! If you have 20 minutes, you can make it all the way downtown, to Corn Hill Landing, Fuego Coffee, the Foodlink Café at the Central Public Library, and more. And taking South Ave toward Rochester City Center lands cyclists in the South Wedge for any number of restaurant choices. And that’s just if you head north from UR!

Heading south you can easily reach the border of Henrietta and all the stores and restaurants at Park Point. Take the Lehigh Valley Trail (a superhighway for bikes!) from the South Lot and follow it all the way down to Brighton Henrietta Town Line Rd. From there you can easily head on over to RIT or down Jefferson Rd as well. This gives you so many awesome connection points to cut commuting time and stay off the major roadways.

Genesee Valley Park is also directly south of the River Campus and is a great access point: to the Canal Trail and all points west, plus the Greenway Trail, which can open even more commuting options for people in Scottsville and Henrietta (that would sometimes work out to be over 20 minutes, though).

Heading east from URMC, you can easily make it to 12 Corners in Brighton and all the parks in between. Highland Park is a mere 10 minutes by bike from anywhere at UR, and taking a short detour through Mt. Hope Cemetery offers a peaceful route coming from any direction.

The Memorial Art Gallery and surrounding Neighborhood of the Arts can easily be accessed by biking north on the Genesee River Trail on the east side of the river up to the Genesee Gateway Park where you can exit the trail and immediately cross Mt Hope Ave and be on Alexander St, taking that all the way to University Ave! Make a right on University and the MAG is one block up on the left.

 A similar distance to the Susan B. Anthony House neighborhood on the west side of the river can easily be achieved straight up Jefferson Ave from the Riverview Apartments on the river trail west. Not to mention all of the streets of housing that can be accessed in the 19th Ward from two pedestrian bridges and the Ford Street Bridge! 

The UR shuttle service is also a great resource for bike commuters since all of the shuttles have bike racks on the front. So if you are an employee or student and you live Downtown near Eastman School of Music, in the 19th Ward, or Southwedge you have access to a shuttle right in your neighborhood. Check out the shuttle schedules on the transportation website to see if you could even bike to a shuttle stop and then hitch a ride the rest of the way to work/school.

There are many other points you can reach from UR in 20 min by bike, some of which are:

    • Southwest YMCA
    • Parcel 5
    • Eastman School of Music
    • Downtown Rochester
    • Greater Rochester International Airport
    • Frontier Field
    • MCC
    • Brighton Town Park

Free covered bike parking on Library Rd on River campus, more of these solar-lit covered bike parking shelters to come!

If you’re pedaling to work, you can keep your bicycle safe and secure at one of our fully enclosed bike stations. The bike stations are located on the ground level of the hospital’s ramp garage, with one at Jackson Drive and the other at East Drive. Both bike stations offer:

    • 24/7 access
    • space saver bike racks
    • security cameras
    • weather-protection
    • self-service bike repair stations

For $40 per year, bike commuters can purchase a permit to either bike station which offers:

Permits for the bike stations can be purchased through the Transportation and Parking Management Center at 70 Goler House during regular business hours or at the Parking Office inside the main hospital garage after business hours. Appointments are now required if you are visiting the Parking Management office in person. Book an appointment online using the online appointment reservation form. For more information, please contact the Parking Management Center at 585-275-4524.


Newly renovated Jackson Drive Bike Cage:

East Drive Bike Cage:

No Comments

Lake Avenue is Not Built For Everyone

Guest blog by Rachel Barnhart, who represents District 21 on the Monroe County Legislature and has been a longtime advocate for safer streets.

A driver struck and killed a woman walking on Lake Ave on September 17. She was at least the 90th pedestrian or cyclist injured or killed on Lake Ave in the mile-long stretch between Driving Park Ave and Lyell Ave over the last decade. That’s an average of nine people hurt every year in a distance we can walk in less than 20 minutes.

It’s time to make Lake Ave safe for everyone, particularly the people who live there.

About half of the people who live in the two census tracts on the west side of Lake Ave between Driving Park and Lyell live in poverty. More than one-third of the households do not own cars. They are using other means of transportation — walking, cycling and public transit. Yet Lake Ave is not built for the use of the people who call the surrounding blocks home. 

Lake Ave is built for speed. The road has 11-foot-wide lanes, 3-foot shoulders, recessed bus stops and turning lanes. These are all design elements conducive to high speeds. The speed limit on Lake Ave is 35 mph, a speed at which pedestrians have a 45 percent chance of being killed when struck. Speed data indicates that between Emerson St and Lexington Ave, half of drivers are going above 36 mph, and one in seven drivers is going above 42 mph. Driving on Lake Ave can be stressful, with tailgating, aggressive lane changes, and, yes, speeding.

A portion of Lake Ave, featuring six lanes.

When examining crash data over the last decade, it’s evident Lake Ave does not have enough traffic lights and they are not timed properly. There are not enough crosswalks, as you have to walk nearly a half-mile in one location between Driving Park and Lyell before encountering a designated place to cross. Lake Ave also takes pedestrians time to cross — it’s six lanes in some spots! In many locations, drivers can turn right on red and they can make left turns everywhere, further endangering pedestrians.

Imagine being a pedestrian or cyclist in this environment, especially on a cold, snowy or rainy day. You just want to cross the street to get to your bus stop, the grocery store, your job, or your friend’s house. But Lake Ave is not built for you. 

Despite the carnage, there is predictably no outcry to make Lake Ave safer for all who use the road. Lake Ave’s crash history sadly shows the correlation between poor street safety, race and poverty. Our culture is oriented toward the needs of drivers, no matter the collateral damage. We have an intense bias reflected in news stories that regularly use the passive voice to describe crashes. A pedestrian is “hit by a car,” not the person driving the car. We blame pedestrians for not following the rules of the road, even though drivers on Lake Ave routinely disregard traffic laws, such as the speed limit.

We can make Lake Ave work for everyone by redesigning the road. Unfortunately, drivers will fight for their ability to speed through neighborhoods, like when public opposition killed a road diet planned for a northern section of Lake Ave in 2014. There are still ideas on the table, such as Reconnect Rochester’s concept to make the Phelps Ave intersection safer.

A design rendering by Stantec for the intersection of Lake Ave & Phelps Ave, which came out of Reconnect’s 2018 Complete Streets Makeover program.

City leaders kicked off a Pace Car program on Lake Ave in 2016, which encouraged drivers to be more mindful of pedestrians and cyclists. That effort faded, but should be revived as part of a more comprehensive Vision Zero plan, which focuses on road design, enforcement and education to reduce crashes. 

Lake Ave is not built for everyone, but it could be one day, if we value the safety and quality of life of everyone who uses this corridor.

No Comments

Is It A Sidewalk? Is It A Path?

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

Over a year ago, I was excited by the opening of the long-awaited Highland Crossing Trail, providing a mile-long connective path that is now a section of my daily bike commute. The path is just a part of a decade-long planning effort to create a pedestrian and bike trail that connects the Empire State Trail (formally the Erie Canalway Trail) with the Genesee Riverway Trail via the Olmstead-designed Highland Park. And while I am thrilled with the collaborative effort between Rochester and the first-ring suburb of Brighton, there is a significant piece of this trail that isn’t the traditional definition of a trail at all.

The “double-wide” sidewalk along Elmwood Avenue is part of The Highland Crossing Trail (shown here two years ago under construction).

Enter the “double-wide” sidewalk, which, for an urbanist, is like dreaming of a Trek bike and getting a Huffy instead. You didn’t get what you wanted, but at least you got something. And hey, I’m not hating on the upgrade… I’m a firm believer in acknowledging every victory, no matter how small. Just because we don’t get what we ultimately wanted out of the gate doesn’t mean we, as advocates, aren’t making progress.

The double-wide sidewalk can, theoretically, safely and comfortably accommodate pedestrians and cyclists, and can be a useful and inviting step in welcoming more people on foot and on two wheels. The problem, of course, lies in the “left-hook” scenario, when drivers turning left into this “path” are hyper-focused on sneaking through two lanes of oncoming car traffic, ignoring the possibility that a pedestrian or cyclist who has the right of way may be approaching crosswalk. This is even more of a hazard for cyclists who travel at a higher speed than pedestrians, creating an issue of sightlines for the driver turning into the path. But this issue can be safely mitigated with a few practical steps.

Controlled Left Hand Turn Signal

For cars turning left into the mixed-use path, a left-hand turn arrow is essential in protecting cyclists and pedestrians using the crosswalk. A red arrow ensures that, when path-goers have the signaled right of way, drivers cannot turn into them.

Think about when you are behind the wheel, turning left across two lanes of oncoming traffic. Your focus is on the cars coming at you as you measure that gap in the traffic, seeing when you can step on the gas and make your left. On a busy road at rush hour, you might only have a momentary break in traffic… you have to take advantage! But how often do you look beyond the two lanes of traffic to see if there is a pedestrian or bike entering the crosswalk? Think about it… anyone entering the crosswalk at this point has the right of way, just like car traffic traveling straight through the green light. You, as a left-hand turner, must yield to sidewalk users as well when you make your left turn.

A red arrow controls left turns for cars when pedestrians have the right of way, restricting the potential for conflict when the car turns into the double-wide sidewalk.

Sidewalk Signals Change With Traffic, Not A Push Button

This is a big one for me. In major metros and downtowns, pedestrian crosswalk signals change with the traffic lights, removing the “please sir can I have some more” ridiculousness of the “beg button” scenario where pedestrians have to physically ask permission to legally receive a signal to cross a road. When implementing a double-wide mixed sidewalk, pedestrian/cycling signals should ALWAYS change with the traffic light. If a car is traveling northbound and has a green light, but a pedestrian traveling northbound has to push a button for the pedestrian signal to say she can cross, you’re doing it wrong. EVERY pedestrian crosswalk in today’s society should change regardless of whether someone pushes that stupid red button or not.

In all seriousness, the whole point of turning a sidewalk into a mixed-use trail is to create greater clarity around the prioritization of the pedestrian and the cyclist. And the scooter rider, and skateboarder, etc. Our pedestrian/wheeled trail user should be able to indulge in this prioritization without pushing a beg button.

If All Else Fails, Do The “Look Back”

As a pedestrian, bike and micro-mobility advocate, I don’t get in the habit of telling people to protect themselves against cars. Instead I bring to light the over-prioritization of the automobile and the need for drivers to share the road and show respect for those who aren’t protected by two tons of steel. That being said, in the case of the double-wide sidewalk, I would encourage users to “look back” to see if a driver is about to turn into you before and during your journey through the crosswalk. As much as I hate that we have to do so, a simple glance to see if a car might be left-hooking into our path as we cross a driveway or roadway is a small and essential step, ensuring our safety. While we must continue to place the onus on drivers to be more aware, and on designers to create safer streets, we must concede that this will take time. In the meantime, let’s be sure to take this simple step so that we can protect ourselves.

Double wide sidewalks can be a valuable “meet half way” step in connecting a robust trail network. But the purpose of a connective trail is to provide those of us on two feet and two (or more) wheels a safe, welcoming and enjoyable experience… most of all, one in which cars don’t pose a threat. Simply widening a sidewalk does little to achieve these goals. We must adapt traffic patterns and signaling if these efforts are to truly be considered a viable “improvement.”

1 Comment

RTS Service Rollback. What It Means and What Now?

It has been a tough couple of weeks for the most vulnerable in our community.

crisis with school bus transportation in the City of Rochester threatened our children’s ability to return to school buildings. RTS stepped up to fill the gap and ensure secondary students could get to school. Given limited workforce resources, this required RTS to scale back its regular service.

Beginning today, September 13, seven RTS frequent routes will change from having 15-minute service to 30-minute service on weekdays. The impacted routes are: Joseph (3), Hudson (4), Portland (5), East Main (8), Monroe (11), Genesee (16) & Lake (22).

Please help us get the word out to RTS riders about this sudden change in service.

These service cuts will have a serious impact on people’s daily lives. Thousands of essential workers will have longer commutes. The transit dependent will have a harder time getting their groceries, accessing childcare and other essential services. The elderly will struggle more to pick up their medications and get to healthcare appointments.

We support the RTS decision to help address the immediate school transportation crisis. We also believe this community shouldn’t have to choose between getting our kids to school and providing adequate public transportation.

Reimagine RTS

So, now what?

    • More resources will help RTS restore service to previous levels as soon as possible. We urge our public officials at all levels of government — city, county, state and federal — to support our public transportation system and the people who rely on it by helping to secure that funding.
    • YOU can help by contacting your own representatives with the message that public transit is essential in the lives of people in our community, and service must be fully restored.
    • We at Reconnect Rochester will continue to work, alongside a coalition of grassroots partners, to advocate for funding for robust public transportation in Monroe County. We’ll continue to coordinate those efforts with RTS, the Amalgamated Transit Union that represents RTS workers, and transit advocates across New York State.

Thank you to RTS for answering the call and responding to this community crisis, as they have done throughout this pandemic with free fares and emergency transport services. Thanks especially to our essential RTS drivers who will make sacrifices with their own work schedules and routines to make this happen.

There is no way to sugar coat this. A rollback in service frequency — a hallmark of the Reimagine RTS system redesign that riders had just a few months to enjoy — is a step backwards.

Let’s work together to get us moving forward again.

No Comments

20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series: Rochester General Hospital Map (+ a Bonus)

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


Presenting the fifth in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this next installment, we chose Rochester General Hospital (RGH) 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 RGH within 20ish minutes on a bike or scooter. Thanks again to Brendan Ryan and Mike Governale for their help putting these maps together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory surrounding RGH, here’s Dr. Gerald Gacioch sharing his personal travel-by-bike experiences.

I am a doctor at RGH and have been biking to work for the past 15ish years. I am not comfortable riding before sunrise or after sunset (despite bright lights and neon clothing) so my bike to work season is usually late-April to mid-September. There is really nothing like the feeling I get when my workday starts with a ride instead of the usual car commute on 490 (cycling is sort of a cross between Rocky running up the library stairs and a tranquil Zen master). I live on the border of Pittsford and Fairport. My route is Rt 31 to Schoen Place to Rt 96 past Nazareth to Fisher, left onto East Ave (GREAT new bike lane!) to University to Culver to Norton and Portland. The whole way is very safe and now has a bike lane almost the entire route.

Lessons Learned

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from now hundreds of days of bike commuting:

    • Pick a safe route. I tested out several routes when I started biking to work on a Sunday when roads were pretty quiet. I have used the same route since then and I now know the timing of the lights, where the potholes are, where people drive weirdly, etc.
    • Check out an e-bike. Still a great workout when you want it to be, but lots of fun to blast up a hill with little effort sometimes. I can cut 10-15 minutes off my commute when on the e-bike.
    • Enjoy the ride and be in the moment.

Rochester’s Bicycle Boulevards

One of the best things that Rochester has to offer in terms of bikeability is its ongoing Bicycle Boulevards implementation. Back in 2015, the City identified priority routes that could be used by cyclists to navigate the city. This year the City is implementing 20 miles of this network! Bike Boulevards are mostly residential side streets that parallel busy, sometimes intimidating roads. Over time, traffic calming measures like speed humps will be installed to slow down or even deter car traffic along these corridors, keeping the experience as comfortable as possible for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Wayfinding signage will also be added to help cyclists navigate. One of the best kept cycling secrets in Rochester is that you can use these routes now, even if they haven’t been technically converted to Bike Boulevards yet. See the purple dotted routes below.

As always, no quality level or amount of bike infrastructure will ever alleviate the need to have some basic traffic-negotiating skills under your belt. Sometimes biking on a major road is unavoidable for a block or two, and even if you stick to comfortable Bike Boulevards, you’ll still have to cross major streets. So stick to these general principles and if you want to get more comfortable and confident on your bike, take one of Reconnect Rochester’s classes sometime.

Biking (or scooting) to RGH along Bike Boulevards from the South, you get your own easy, private entrance to the complex! Northaven Terrace is a dead-end street for cars. But on your bicycle, just open the gate at the end and you’re there.

The Routes

This trip along low traffic, residential bike boulevards from North Winton Village is 3.6 miles (21 minutes by bike):

Here is a route biking (or scooting!) from the downtown Transit Center to RGH, primarily along Bike Boulevards. This is 3.3 miles, under 20 minutes! (TIP: Thomas Street, a great connection for cyclists wanting to avoid Joseph and Hudson Avenues, is one way between Upper Falls Boulevard and Clifford Avenue, so use the sidewalk for that brief section.)

Biking to RGH from the north above 104 is a little more challenging. Unless you can use the El Camino Trail to cross 104, as seen below, you’ll have to bike on Carter Street or Portland Avenue to approach the complex (Seneca Avenue is a less stressful alternative).

When you arrive on the campus, there are currently three places to lock your bike:

    1. Carter St Garage, where there is a locked bike cage (to gain access to it you go to the Parking Office located right in the garage near the entrance to the hospital).
    2. Portland Ave Garage, where there are bike racks next to security (stationed 24/7).
    3. Near the Emergency Department, where there are also bike racks.

RGH will soon be placing more bike racks by the main entrance. Cyclists can look forward to this custom bike rack in the shape of a stethoscope!


Bonus!

As a bonus, we’re throwing in a bike shed map of Rochester Regional’s other primary campus, Unity Hospital on the west side. Though outside the 20-minute scope for most people, Unity is approachable via the Erie Canal Trail from Spencerport, Gates, and the 19th Ward. It’s also not far from the City’s Maplewood Historic District. To get to Unity from Maplewood, we recommend taking Ridgeway to Latona to Welland, which takes you straight to the Unity entrance. Stay tuned for developments on the Eastman Trail, which will parallel Ridgeway Avenue. As you can see below, there are plans to connect these west side trails and we’re excited for that connectivity!

No Comments

The Road Ahead for Reconnect

Big developments are underfoot at Reconnect Rochester: a major gifta new path forward, and a leadership announcement. We want to share all the excitement with you!

A Gift of Great Magnitude

Many of you know Dr. Scott MacRae as a long-team leader in the cycling community and champion for active transportation as a key to community health. As past President of the Rochester Cycling Alliance (RCA), Dr. MacRae worked for many years alongside Richard DeSarra and others to urge improvements that have made our region a more bike friendly place.

When the RCA joined forces with Reconnect Rochester in 2019, Dr. MacRae was an enthusiastic supporter and made a financial commitment that allowed the combined organization to hire a dedicated Cycling Coordinator. Coming together has given our collective multi-modal efforts a huge boost as we have combined our person power, ideas and energy. 

We’re honored and humbled to announce that Dr. MacRae is doubling down on his investment with a transformative financial gift to further support and grow Reconnect Rochester’s mission.

This funding will help us continue our existing programs and advocacy work, and expand our staff capacity so we can do more and be more.

When asked what inspired his gift, Dr. MacRae shared: “Rochester has been very generous to me. This is a great opportunity to give back and honor my good friend, the late Richard DeSarra, who dedicated 25 years to making Rochester biking, walking and transit-friendly. As a lifelong cyclist, with an interest in health and quality of life, I hope to see a mature network of biking and walking friendly streets and trails for all to enjoy and travel safely on.”

Here’s Our Plan

Dr. MacRae’s gift couldn’t come at a more perfect time. A break in programming over the last year due to the pandemic allowed us the time to take a step back and set our future course. Over 10 months, our Board of Directors and a nine-member work group, including Dr. MacRae, worked to craft a Strategic Plan.

We had help along the way from all of you who took the time to share your perceptions and feedback through our stakeholder survey. Your ideas and encouragement were just what we needed.

We are happy to share with you Reconnect Rochester’s 2021-24 Strategic Plan. It’s our first ever, and we’re pretty proud of it.

We started with our destination. What do we want our organization and our community to look like in 25 years? We articulated the answer in a vision statement that captures our hopes and dreams. We hope you share them!

Hallmarks of the plan include expanding our staff capacity, strengthening our influence and community presence, and centering mobility justice in our work.

We extend deep thanks to the ESL Charitable Foundation for the financial support that allowed us to do this, and Mary Hadley at Causewave Community Partners for her expert facilitation of the process.

Interim Leader Appointment

With all this growth and excitement will also come change, and change can be hard. An effort that began with a small group of passionate community activists back in 2009 is evolving into a larger, more structured effort. Retaining the energy and involvement of all those who have played a part in the organization’s success, while bringing in more capacity and expertise in staff positions, will be a delicate balance to achieve.

We’re thrilled to announce that Mary Staropoli, MPA, has been appointed Interim Executive Director to lead the organization through this period of growth and transition.

Mary’s five years with the organization as the Director of Planning & Development and 20+ years of experience in the nonprofit sector uniquely position her to help guide us on the road ahead.

Mary will lead an all-star staff team that includes Cycling Coordinator Jesse Peers and Development & Communications Specialist Monika Reifenstein, and we plan to”power up” with some additional staffing in the fall.

We don’t know exactly what’s around the corner, but we hope that you all will be in our corner. We will always need collective energy to keep driving change in our community — one street, one mind, one trip at a time.


Vision Statement

Reconnect Rochester will work tirelessly to make our community a place where everyone can easily and safely get around, regardless of age, ability, income or mode of transportation. We will help shift our community’s priorities to place people first, rehumanize our streets and integrate them with our neighborhoods.

We will connect transportation to equity, health, the economy and the environment. We will educate our community leaders and boldly advocate for a transportation system that provides mobility options and resource access for everyone. Reconnect Rochester’s work will help combat poverty, reduce climate change, improve the health and well-being of people in our community, and bolster our local economy.

We will inspire and empower people to use various modes of transportation and experience the joy and freedom of getting around by bus, by rail, on bike or on foot. We will educate, motivate and amplify community efforts to call for equitable and safe streets in our neighborhoods.

We will be the leading local advocacy organization and recognized source for transportation facts and knowledge. We will highlight national mobility trends and ideas to inspire our community about what’s possible. We will have a seat at every table where transportation decisions are made and will hold government and local leaders accountable.

Funders will want to invest in Reconnect Rochester because they hold trust in our organization and see clear evidence of our impact. Community partners will seek to collaborate with us to work toward our shared goals.

We will work with community leaders and decision-makers to create a region renowned for a robust transportation network made up of people-centric streets and public transit that integrates rather than segregates.

No Comments

Rolling Out the Changes: A Transit Ambassador’s View on the New RTS System

Guest blog by Nicholas Russo; an RIT graduate, civil engineer, & passionate urbanist

On May 17, 2021, a re-imagined Regional Transit Service kicked off in Rochester. As a hired Transit Ambassador for the first week of the rollout, I had a firsthand view of how the new bus routes and infrastructure were set up and how they functioned, and also got to hear the thoughts and experiences from transit users. In this post, I’ll recount my time visiting three of the new Mobility Hubs around the metro area, as well as my car-free week in Rochester! I am currently living in Massachusetts, so I was excited to have an excuse to visit my old college town, and get paid for it!

For those who may be unfamiliar, the Reimagine RTS initiative began several years ago, with the ultimate result of more efficient bus routes, including three new Crosstown lines (which I made extensive use of during the week), and an all-new On Demand service. The On Demand service is like micro-mass-transit, with shared vans that can be called for pickups and drop-offs anywhere inside specific On Demand zones. There are no fixed routes or bus stops in the On Demand zones. 

The existing fixed-route bus service is named RTS Connect. The RTS Connect fixed-route services that run to On Demand zones now terminate at Mobility Hubs. These are more formalized bus connection points that are all served by an On Demand zone, as well. Here’s the map to help you visualize the new system.

The Week Begins

My journey started at the Albany-Rensselaer train station, where I finally got to try the roll-on bicycle storage service. I packed a week’s worth of supplies into my camping backpack, and climbed on board the train. Once I arrived in Rochester, it felt great to throw my backpack on, hop on my own bike, and get myself over to my host’s house for the week. No waiting for an Uber or walking to the Transit Center. I was very grateful to also make it to the Flower Pedal Populaire Sunday bike ride to kick off my week. It was great to catch up with so many people, and see how the city has grown over the past few years!

On-board bike storage on the Empire Service

My RTS Transit Ambassador schedule for the week was one for the early birds: 5:00am-1:00pm for Monday and Tuesday, then 6:00am-9:00am the remainder of the week. Reporting for 5:00am at the Hylan Drive Mobility Hub meant that I needed to plan my alarm time for the 45-minute bike ride to Henrietta with a little buffer time, and time to get out of bed and get ready for the day. 3:30am it was. My bike rides took me mostly on a straight line along Winton Road, which was eerily quiet at 4:00 in the morning.

The standard Ambassador uniform for the week was a blue RTS-branded apron, black RTS-branded mask, and a lime green RTS-branded visor. Hopefully it was clear that I wasn’t someone just loitering all day at the bus stop. Each Ambassador also received a small swag-bag with sunscreen (thank you!!), sanitizer, and information about the new bus lines and On Demand zones.

Showtime

Monday morning started quiet, dark, and empty at the Henrietta Transit Hub on Hylan Drive, where I was assigned. The Hub consists of two metal and plexiglass shelters facing each other across the street at the Wegmans driveway entrance. The shelters are enclosed on three sides, with the side that faces the street open except for a center plexiglass slat. 

For being on a suburban arterial, it was incredibly quiet and peaceful watching the sunrise and listening to the hundreds of seagulls and geese making their morning rounds. As the way went on, though, the traffic and noise levels became dangerously high at times as cargo trucks zoomed by at 40 miles per hour no more than twenty feet away from my seat. I would honestly suggest flipping the shelters around and having the opening face away from the street. Keeping the noise and fumes out would create a much better ride experience.

My home base for the first half of the week

The first customer of the morning was a recent graduate from RIT, and an even bigger fan of transit than I was. He informed me as he walked up to the bus shelter at 5:50am that he wanted to be the first customer to try the new On Demand service. The On Demand hours begin at 6:00am, and at that hour two RTS-branded passenger vans drove up and staged at the far edge of the Wegmans parking lot. The customer boarded and went off to continue riding the new bus system for the day.

I was also happy to be joined by fellow Ambassadors across the street, and an RTS supervisor who was on duty for the day at the Hub to make sure things ran smoothly. As the morning progressed, I was extremely grateful that he was there and had direct access to dispatch communications, as I’ll explain.

Connection Hub-Bub

Many of us are used to having first-day jitters, bugs, and hitches with new programs and initiatives, and Reimagine was no exception. Being a completely new service, On Demand had a quiet start on Monday morning. Those who did try out the passenger vans sometimes found themselves waiting at the Hub long beyond their scheduled pickup time, but with no clear reason why. When someone called customer service, the representative found that they were indeed scheduled to be picked up at the Hylan Connection Hub at their specified time. But the On Demand vehicle was nowhere to be seen. 

Luckily, RTS’s supervisor who was assisting us that day was able to speak directly with dispatch and the operators. It turned out that the location of the Connection Hub was incorrectly placed on the vans’ GPS units as being at the terminus of the bus routes (at Walmart on Clay Road), and not at the Hylan Drive shelters. So, operators were driving to Walmart when instructed to pick up a passenger at the Hylan Connection Hub. This was ironed out as the week went on.

Another change that was unexpected by some passengers was RTS Connect bypassing the Marketplace Mall entrance, which was where the fixed-route buses previously would pass through. The new routes were laid out to run directly down West Henrietta Road to Hylan Drive, without diverting into the mall property. While this was more efficient from a bus scheduling standpoint, the change proved to be less efficient for many passengers who were taking the bus to the mall. They now had to walk from the Hylan Drive Hub, and then halfway around the outside of the mall, to get inside. This feedback was passed along to operators who then updated the route by Tuesday morning to once again pass through the mall entrance.

Hopping Around Hubs

I offered my flexibility to the Ambassador supervisors during the week, and they took me up on the offer. Besides Henrietta, I helped to staff the Connection Hubs at Dewey Ave & Ridge Road, and Irondequoit Plaza. Each offered their own unique logistics that show just how diverse the neighborhoods around Rochester are. 

On Wednesday and Thursday morning, Dewey Ave proved to be an important Connection Hub for commuters who work at the industrial centers on the west side of the city. This hub really served as a stress-test for the On Demand service, which had an On Demand zone comprised of all of the industry on the west side between Ridge Road and Lyell Ave. The flexibility of the On Demand service meant that pick up and drop-off times were not guaranteed, and it became apparent early in the week (before I was at that hub) that passengers would need to book additional “buffer” time for pick-ups and drop-offs to be on time for work. It was an evolving situation as the week went on. 

Another piece of the puzzle involved the “long” and “short” fixed-route lines that served the Dewey Connection Hub. The long and short lines are basically overlapping bus lines, with one line running all the way to the far end of Dewey Ave at Northgate Plaza, and another stopping short at the Dewey Ave Connection Hub at Ridge Road.

My bike at a bus stop with a Reconnect Bus Cube

Irondequoit Plaza was the quietest hub of the week in my opinion, mostly since I was stationed there on a Saturday morning. There were not any commuters to speak of in this bedroom neighborhood, and a smattering of early-morning Wegmans shoppers did alight from the fixed-route buses that terminated here. It was a good opportunity to chat with some of the bus operators as they laid over at the hub.

Finally, I ended my week on Sunday morning back where I began, at the Hylan Drive Connection Hub in Henrietta. 

As I reflected on the week during the sunny and quiet Sunday morning, I was grateful to be on the ground to see how this system worked in the real world. As someone from a city so small that our buses only run once an hour, it was so much fun to get fully immersed in a city-wide bus system serving thousands of passengers a day. I’m looking forward to my next return visit, when I can be a full-time passenger on the RTS buses, and remember how vital our public transit is for a healthy and strong city.

3 Comments

20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series: Brighton Map

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


Presenting the fourth in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this next installment, we chose Twelve Corners in Brighton 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 Twelve Corners within 20ish minutes on a bike. Thanks again to Brendan Ryan and Mike Governale for their help putting these maps together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory in Brighton, here’s WomanTours’ Jackie Marchand sharing her personal travel-by-bike experiences.

One of the many things I love most about living in Brighton is its bikeability. It seems I can ride my bike to nearly everywhere I need or want to go. You’d think with more than 50 years of living here that I’d be able to find my way around without Google’s help. However, it’s become a game. Do I know my community better than my phone does? Can I find a safer, quieter and prettier way to bike to my destination than Google can? Or will it surprise me and show me a hidden bike trail?

Yesterday, I had a breakfast meeting at Morgan’s Cereal Bar on East Avenue. I used the bike feature on the Google Maps app and it sent me down Monroe Avenue. That wasn’t bad because it has a bike lane. Then I was supposed to turn down Alexander, but I knew there was a beautiful new bike path on Union Street. I went one block further than Google recommended and reveled in cycling the former Inner Loop on my way to East Ave.

I left my house ten minutes earlier than if I’d driven, and managed to complete a 20-minute bike ride before breakfast. The best part of all was that while others had to pay the meter, my parking was free!

When I grocery shopped at Tops last week, my phone sent me straight down Elmwood Avenue for one mile to the store. I always avoid cycling down Elmwood Avenue, as the lanes are too narrow for both a car and a bike. Fortunately, that could change in the future. There are plans to extend the Elmwood Avenue cycletrack from South Avenue to 12 Corners, which will be fantastic but is still years away.

For now, I have to find my own safer way. I know there’s a small trail behind Temple B’rith Kodesh to quiet Ashley Drive. At the end of Ashley, another trail connects to Brandywine and then another short trail connects to Lac De Ville into the Tops parking lot. I arrived at Tops in 15 minutes by cycling only one block on Elmwood Avenue. Google – 0, Jackie – 2. 

Last weekend, I wanted bagels from Bagel Land at 12 Corners, the cornerstone of Brighton. In addition to the fastest route straight down Elmwood Avenue, Google offered me the longer but better route through side streets to the back of the plaza. There was even a bike rack waiting for me. It took one minute longer but was well worth it. Thanks Google.

It’s actually pretty easy to navigate around 12 Corners using the small side streets to avoid the tight busy intersections. If traffic is low though, I’ll choose to cycle through it rather than around it. All the stoplights keep vehicles moving slowly.

Now that the Auburn Trail is improved, my favorite after-office ride is to the Pittsford Wegmans on my way home. Google actually found this route for me. My office is just over the Brighton/Henrietta line and an easy half-mile to the Canal Trail. After a mile on the trail, I linked to the unpaved Railroad Loop Trail that took me behind Pittsford Plaza all the way to Wegmans. Google even told me how long it would take – just 18 minutes. Google – 2, Jackie – 2.

After shopping, I crossed Monroe Avenue to hop on the Auburn Trail. Google didn’t know about this trail yet – it’s that new. I exited the trail at Elmwood Avenue and then meandered some calm streets through quiet neighborhoods to my house. It felt safe and relaxing. When was the last time you called a trip to Wegmans relaxing?! 

In search of some comfortable biking clothes last week, I googled the bike route to Sierra Trading Post from my office. Most of the 16-minute trip to the store was on roads, but there were shoulders and the traffic was light, so I felt safe. Google even knew to take me around the back of the stores where the loading docks were to avoid the busy parking lot. Surprise – there was a bike rack waiting for me in front of the store! Google – 3, Jackie – 3. 

Examining the ride home after shopping, I learned that my phone wanted me to take the Canal Trail to the Brighton Town Park, but from there Google failed me. It was sending me on Westfall to South Clinton to Elmwood Avenue for a total of two miles on busy thoroughfares. 

When I zoomed in, I saw that there was a small path connecting Westfall to Schilling Lane in a small residential neighborhood. It allowed me to cut out the hilly intersection at Westfall and S. Clinton and cycle nearly the entire two miles on a mix of quiet roads and paths. Admittedly, I probably wouldn’t have found the trail without Google, so I gave us each a point. Google – 4, Jackie – 4.

Finally, I already knew that the two newest trails in Brighton are not recognized by Google as bicycling routes. The one-mile long Brickyard Trail recently celebrated its fifth anniversary and connects Westfall and Elmwood Avenues. It’s a stroll through wetlands where I’ve regularly spotted foxes, turtles, owls and turkeys. The Highland Crossing Trail is less than two years old and also connects Westfall and Elmwood Avenues, but then continues north through Highland Park, ending at the Genesee Riverway Trail. Its highlight is an elevated boardwalk through a forest.

Jackie on the Highland Crossing Trail

The two trails are my favorite place to go when I don’t have anywhere I need to be. I tried the loop the other day, incorporating a couple calm bike boulevards that Google suggested. So I gave Google two points for the bike boulevards, and myself a point for each trail. Google – 5, Me – 5. I’m going to have to keep cycling so I can get ahead!

2 Comments

Shamokin Dam, PA: No Pedestrians Allowed

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

Last weekend my wife and I enjoyed a quick overnight trip to one of our favorite cities, Philadelphia, PA. In an effort to avoid toll roads, we took Route 15 for much of the way through the Keystone State, marveling at the beautiful rolling hills while skirting the Susquehanna River.

But in many places along the way, Route 15 transitions into Big Box Store Islands. One such place is in Shamokin Dam, home to massive parking lots servicing Best Buys and AutoZones, featuring every restaurant chain from McDonalds and Burger King to Pizza Hut, Chipotle, Denny’s, Red Robin, Applebee’s and more. What caught my eye on this particular journey through the minimum-wage wasteland was the total lack of sidewalks.

Let’s unpack this for a moment. We have a sea of low paying retail jobs that literally cannot be reached on foot or by bike. If you can’t afford a car, you don’t get a job here and you don’t get to shop here, plain and simple.

Furthermore, and this is my favorite… not only do they not have sidewalks, the local signage actually forbids pedestrians!

And beyond that, I tried to see if there might be a public transit option so that residents of nearby Selinsgrove, for example, might be able to access this area without owning a car. Spoiler alert, there is no public transit option.

A similar collection of big box retailers and chain restaurants exists south of Rochester, New York in the suburb of Henrietta. And while the land use and development strategies in this area are hideously car-centric and exclusive, at least it has sidewalks on both sides of the road and regular transit access.

Jefferson Road, Henrietta, NY

Shamokin Dam, on the other hand, is an island of minimum wage jobs that is only accessible by the most expensive form of transportation. Pennsylvania’s citizens living in this area must own a car and all the incredible costs that come with it in order to access these retail opportunities, either as an employee or as a customer. This is a perfect example of how flawed and shortsighted our U.S. development patterns and land use constructs truly are.

No Comments

Complete Streets Makeover: Public Call for Nominations Now Open Thru July 30

Is there an intersection or trouble spot in your daily travels that doesn’t feel safe to bike or walk?

Nominate it for a Complete Street Makeover today!

Submit your nomination by Friday, July 30, 2021.

Reconnect Rochester and our team of partners believe streets are for people (not just cars). No one understands what it’s like to use our streets better than those who walk, bike, roll and ride along them everyday.

We need your help identifying the intersections and trouble spots in Monroe County that could be redesigned to make them safer for everyone.


What’s in a Makeover

From the public nominations received, our Steering Committee will select a Complete Streets Makeover Winner based on established judging criteria. Selection factors include crash safety data of incidents at the location, potential for design improvements, proximity to kids, and evidence of community support for change. 

The Complete Streets Makeover Winner receives:

    • a community workshop to hear resident and stakeholder input, facilitated by the Community Design Center
    • a professional street re-design that will make it safer for those walking and biking, created by the engineering team at Stantec  
    • an on-street installation of temporary design improvements (using equipment from the HealthiKids traffic calming library), and street painting supplies & expertise
    • speed data collection as evidence of the project’s impact, and
    • ongoing guidance and support of neighborhood follow-up advocacy to make the changes permanent.

To get a sense for the project, watch this short film about our Complete Streets Makeover project at the intersection of Parsells & Greeley in 2018.

From the remaining nominations, the Steering Committee will select two (2) additional locations as Design Rendering Winners. Each of these locations will receive a conceptual drawing by the engineering team at Stantec to show possible street design improvements that would make it safer for those walking and biking. The neighborhood can use the illustration as a starting point for further community conversation, and a tool to advocate for improvements.

What is a ‘Complete Street’?

A complete street allows everyone—regardless of age, ability or mode of transportation—to safely access that street. It is a street shared by pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists.

Complete Streets Makeover
Complete Streets Makeover
Complete Streets Makeover
Photos on the left show a street designed exclusively for cars; photos on the right show a ‘complete street’ designed for people.

Why Do We Do This?

According to the latest “Dangerous By Design” report, the number of pedestrians fatalities in the U.S. increased by 45% from 2010-2019. During this ten-year period, 53,435 people were hit and killed by drivers. The last four years (2016-2019) were the most deadly years for pedestrian deaths since 1990. In 2019 alone, 6,237 people were killed, which is the equivalent of more than 17 people dying per day. 

In Monroe County, from 2010-2017, over 4,000 crashes involved bicyclists and pedestrians, and eight people die on our local streets every year as a result of these crashes. 

Responding to this growing epidemic was the impetus behind the creation of our Complete Streets Makeover (CSM) program in 2018. Our goal is to bring attention to complete street design as one critical factor in creating streets that are safe for everyone. 

Learn More

Visit Complete Streets Makeover program page to learn more about why we do this, the process components, and short films about our past projects.

Program Partners

HealthiKids
Community Design Center of Rochester - CDCR
2 Comments

20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series: Pittsford Map

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


Presenting the third in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this next installment, we chose Four Corners in Pittsford Village 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 Four Corners within 20ish minutes on a bike. Thanks again to Brendan Ryan and Mike Governale for their help putting these maps together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory in Pittsford, here’s Flower City Family Cycling’s Brooke Fossey sharing her personal travel-by-bike experiences.

Introducing 20 Minutes by Bike Pittsford

You don’t have to be a cycling enthusiast to appreciate how connected Pittsford is. My humble hope is that after reading this, you’ll discover a new route available to you, and maybe you’ll pull out your bike for a trip that you’ve only considered accessible by car before. At the very end, I’ll share some tips that I hope will help you get started. 

48110148487_669dba10b5_o.jpg

I’m struck by three things about this 20 Minutes Map:

    1. You can bike to the heart of the village—our Library, shops, restaurants, Bakery and Dairy—from pretty far away in just 20 minutes or less, including from East Rochester, Pittsford Plaza, two colleges, and many of our neighborhoods. 
    2. We have been gifted, through good planning and leadership, with a great trail system that connects so much of Pittsford completely off the roads, including the Erie Canalway Trail and Town trails that connect cul-de-sac neighborhoods.
    3. We still have a long way to go to make major roads comfortable for most riders. We have to keep advocating for safety improvements on our major arterials. Although trail connections are great, direct routes should be viable and safe by bike – for everyone.

Take a look at the major attractions we have that are bikeable in the same length of time widely considered in Rochester to be the longest it takes to drive anywhere (20 minutes):

    • Library
    • Community/Recreation Center
    • Village and Town Halls
    • Main Street shops and restaurants
    • Schoen Place shops, restaurants, and breweries
    • Bushnell’s Basin shops and restaurants
    • Pittsford Plaza shops and restaurants, including Wegmans
    • Schools
    • Doctor and dentist offices
    • Banks
    • Yoga, pilates, and the YMCA
    • Hair salons
    • Parks like Great Embankment, Thornell Farm Park, Kreag Rd Park
    • Playgrounds
    • Erie Canal
    • East Rochester amenities, including restaurants, a pool and splashpad
    • Nazareth and St. John Fisher colleges

That list is pretty incredible. Now, let’s break some of this down further. 

Bike to your Books! 

The Pittsford Community Library has not one, but two bike racks: one in front on State Street and one behind with an adjacent bike repair station. If you haven’t considered biking to the Library, strap on your backpack or grab your bike basket. You’ll feel great when you arrive and you’ll have the best parking spot there. 

35777049031_f042db6766_o.jpg
Pittsford Community Library bike parking

Let’s say you’re coming from one of the neighborhoods off Rt-96. You can take the sidewalk along Rt-96, cross at the light at South Street and take the quieter neighborhood roads right to the Library in 5 minutes by bike, 1 mile each way. 

Screen Shot 2021-02-10 at 11.10.13 AM.png

Coming from the other direction, Google will send you on the most direct path, on N. Main Street, and you can cut in through the parking lot. Or, take the quieter, but slightly longer, neighborhood route down Schoen Place. Sometimes going a little bit out of your way on your bike makes for a much more enjoyable and relaxing ride, until our main streets are made safe enough for everyone to feel comfortable riding on them. I’d probably take this longer but quieter route if I had my kids riding independently next to me. It would be a little longer, but on a bike, it’s not that noticeable, and it would be much less stressful. 

*Note: State Street Bridge is closed for repairs until mid-July.

Middle School Mileage

A few of our friends who live in or near the village have middle-school age children who biked to Calkins Road Middle School. To many of us, that sounds a little scary, but there’s actually a sidewalk that connects all the way, and a trail system that connects cul-du-sacs and allows for riding on much quieter streets. Having route choices makes biking more accessible as each person can tailor their ride to their own comfort level. Biking to school has so many benefits: independence for teens, reduced congestion, transportation savings, and kids can arrive to school more awake and ready to learn. This is something I believe we should be actively encouraging as a community. 

32105750_1999652596734556_7492071836528672768_n.jpg
Calkins Road Middle School bike racks are packed on Bike to School Day

Many of Pittsford’s neighborhoods have walking and biking paths that connect cul-du-sacs with the next neighborhood without having to go out on the main road, and I’ve found that you can travel quite far on these side roads—if you know about them! 

50055540776_462214809f_o.jpg
Trail connection between Crestview Dr and the Jefferson Road School grounds
48110146237_c4b02e7756_o.jpg
Neighborhood walk/bike connection between Stonegate Ln and the Pittsford Community Center

Groceries and Gears

Getting groceries by bike requires a little more planning, but it is not only possible, it can be so rewarding. Do I wish there was a small grocery to pop into to grab a few things by bike a few times a week – heck yes. Is Wegmans by bike an option? Believe it or not, also heck yes. Maybe you can’t bring as much home as you would in your car, but you can actually haul quite a bit on your bike with panniers or just a large backpack. Plus you have the added benefits of exercise, parking right up next to the building, and—let’s not underestimate the badass factor. You’ll feel really proud of yourself. I’ve done this route myself, but my husband usually runs it weekly during three seasons using the trails to completely avoid Monroe Avenue. 

IMG_20200714_211008133.jpg
Hefty Wegmans haul via bike

The approved Active Transportation Plan calls for a multi-use trail along Monroe Avenue, but until that happens, did you know you can reach Wegmans completely on trails? Check it out: 

Screen Shot 2021-02-14 at 10.15.22 AM.png

This route uses the Auburn Trail, accessible behind the Pickle Factory. Unfortunately Google maps doesn’t show this connection. From the Four Corners, get on the Erie Canal towpath heading west, turn right on the turnoff near Pittsford DPW’s building, and hop on the Auburn Trail behind the Pickle Factory storage building. Cross to Wegmans at the light and cruise right into the parking lot, with bike parking on either side of the store. 

Alternatively, you can come up on the west side of Wegmans taking the Erie Canal towpath farther west and coming down the ramp near the old Lock 62. 

Screen Shot 2021-02-14 at 10.16.02 AM.png

College Connections

Connecting young people to the village and giving them the option to get here without driving will help our local economy and give students more freedom. Nazareth has a great connection to the village, thanks to the new sidewalk installed by the Town this past year. St. John Fisher also has a straight shot on main roads. How can we encourage students to visit the village on foot or on bike, and how do we make that an attractive option? 

What Does This Mean for YOU?

If you are even the slightest bit curious, I encourage you to try biking to your destination. You will arrive invigorated and pretty darn proud of yourself. You can do this! One trip builds on the next and pretty soon, it becomes a true option, and you start to ask: should we take the car or bike today? 

33450641684_992960b5c3_o.jpg

Tips for Getting Started

Short and easy destination. If you’re brand new to biking and want to give it a try, pick a destination no more than a mile away, and which will be low-stress to get there. Ex: Pittsford Dairy: access the canal path from your closest neighborhood spot and ride to N. Main Street, and then from there just a short distance to the Dairy. Grab your milk (or ice cream!), throw it in a backpack, and head back home. Once you master that, you’ll start to see that the world opens up to what you can reach just by the power of your own legs. It’s walking, only faster! Here are some great destinations to check out in the Village: Pittsford Dairy, Lock 32 Brewery, Copper Leaf Brewing, Simply Crepes, The Coal Tower, Village Bakery, Pittsford Library, Thirsty’s, Label 7, Olives, Aladdin’s, Breathe Yoga, BluHorn Tequilaria…the list goes on and on, so pick what interests you and go for it! 

School run on a weekend. Try a school run one day – but do it on a weekend. Try it without the stress of getting there at a certain time, or rush hour traffic. Do the run and see how it is, and then when you do it for the first time on a school day, it’ll be so much easier. Pretty soon, your kids might start asking you to drop off or pick-up that way because they get more time with you and like moving their bodies before settling in at school.

Ride with other people. There are many biking groups around Rochester that do club rides. You can find one that suits your skill level and interest and ride with others. There’s a sense of camaraderie riding in a group, and you can learn from other people. Here’s a shameless plug for Flower City Family Cycling, a group I co-run that plans chill, social rides for families. All ages and abilities welcome, and we’d love to see you.  

Wrapping Up

As this map shows, Pittsford has some amazing connectivity. But it also overstates connections we do have: many of the main arterials shown as straight shots through Pittsford are often not enjoyable by bike—they can even be downright stressful and scary, depending on the time of day. They will require a great deal more effort to improve the ride experience to encourage new riders. 

The next step to making this 20-min map a reality for many people is to make the roads safer to bike on. That means lowering vehicle speeds, narrowing lanes, considering bike lanes or shared bike/walk trails, and educating the public on how to safely drive alongside someone on a bicycle.

No Comments

The Expectation of Speed

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

Hop off the New York State Thruway at Syracuse, head South on the I-81 expressway and you will understand. Cruising above the city’s downtown, you see the urban streetscape as if you’re flying over it, past it, like it’s something you want to avoid on your way to another more rural destination. Lost on most who travel this vehicular express route is the truth that bypassing cities with above or below-grade highways was a principle element in the demise of American cities. Indeed, the worst thing that happened to our urban culture was creating the expectation that you, the driver, can speed through it, past it and around it.

From expressways to 4-lane one way streets, we have fostered a belief that any urban corridor should be traversable by car quickly and easily, even if the result is an erosion of walkable streets and small business interests. Fast cars mean less street level activity, simply because we as humans are averse to environments that are loud and dangerous… even if we aren’t always aware of it.

Today, I was almost hit by a car while legally riding my electric scooter on a city street. The driver accelerated around a slower car into the bike lane, and missed me by a foot as he sped away in his 2-ton pickup truck. The street in question has multiple lanes of traffic in either direction, giving the driver the sense that he is in control, and that this environment is built for speed. Anyone who stands in the way of this construct should be dismissed, even if it means the potential injury or loss of human life. This kind of street design doesn’t just empower drivers like this one to drive fast, it justifies it. The design of urban right-of-ways sends a clear message to everyone about what’s important, who is prioritized, and more importantly, who isn’t. Speed limit signs mean little when we create environments where the potential for speed is high and the risk of speeding FOR THE DRIVER is extremely low.

Our insanely overbuilt American roadways have created an expectation of automobile speed, while the byproduct is far too often severe injury or loss of life for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Nearly as costly is the effect that the expectation of automobile speed and convenience has on cities, communities and the way we prioritize space. When forty-four foot wide roads create a loud and uncomfortable pedestrian experience, the shops, storefronts, parks and street level amenities that rely on pedestrian prioritization fail as well.

The impact of speed on pedestrian loss of life is clearly highlighted by the fact that while vehicle miles driven was significantly reduced in 2020, the rate at which pedestrians were killed by cars actually went up. In fact, pedestrian deaths are at their highest rate in 30 years. And as always, we are quick to protect our children from any and all potential threats to their safety, and yet car crashes are the leading cause of death in children and teens.

The expectation of automobile speed, convenience and prioritization must be challenged as we begin to realize the nauseating metrics of car-centered communities. The importance of seeing cars as dangerous, exclusive and community-killing vehicles has never been so important.

5 Comments

A Naturalist’s Ode to Urban Density

Guest blog by Doug Kelley, Associate Professor at University of Rochester

I grew up doing a lot of hiking and backpacking in the woods of Alabama. Being outside connected me to a world that seemed more fundamental, more enduring, less corrupted by the mistakes of humankind. I felt empowered by the ethos of backpacking especially, that my own two feet could take me through the world from one beautiful place to another, and when I was gone, I would leave no trace, so others might enjoy the same beauty. I could forget daily stresses in favor of long conversations with friends, basking in sunshine and endorphins. I was (and am) a naturalist. I chose a college in the Appalachian mountains, and spent summers back in the Alabama woods, a counselor at Camp McDowell, quick to volunteer to lead kids on hikes.

Over time, my passion for being outdoors led to an idea that seemed surprising at first: for a naturalist like me, who wants to spend as much time outdoors as possible, the best place to live is not in the woods but in a densely-packed city center. Urban density allows me to live close to my workplace and commute by bike or public transportation, so I’m outdoors for an hour every day, routinely, without committing extra time. Urban density means there’s a small market a block from my house, a pharmacy two blocks beyond, a library within five blocks, a hardware store and supermarkets easily accessible by bike, and a huge number of restaurants, cafes, bars, and coffee shops nearby. In a city center, sidewalks and bike lanes and bus routes offer dense connections. When traveling to all these places and more, I can be outdoors, enjoying the same sunshine and exercise as on those Alabama trails, years ago.

Headed home from work on the River Trail, I enjoy fantastic views of downtown Rochester daily. (Credit: Doug Kelley)

Without urban density, neither I nor my neighbors — who I see often on sidewalks and porches — could benefit from so many amenities. If lots were bigger and residences weren’t arranged with as much density, our destinations would be pushed further away, often too far for walking or biking. In fact, many destinations would cease to exist. Markets and restaurants and shops are businesses that rely on having enough feet cross their threshold daily. Urban density puts customers close. Or, from the customers’ point of view, urban density puts businesses close.

A naturalist’s first instinct might be to live far outside the city center, near trails and hills and streams. Wistfully I can imagine myself stepping out of a house abutting Mendon Ponds Park, a favorite place to ski and hike and cycle, ready to start an outing without even getting in a car. But to gain that privilege, I would have to trade away countless hours of outdoor time enabled by my city life. Living by those trails, I’d be cooped up in a car every time I commuted, every time I needed groceries, every time I wanted a restaurant meal. RTS buses don’t go that far out. Altogether, that life would allow me far less time in the outdoors I love. Much better to drive to the trails and live in the city.

A favorite hiking destination at Camp McDowell was St. Christopher’s Pool, at the head of a canyon and beneath a waterfall near the edge of the property. But in those years, St. Chris’s was badly defaced, its rocks and water turned a sickly shade of orange by runoff from the coal mine upstream. The Rev. Mark Johnston, executive director of Camp, waged a legal battle that ultimately brought the mine’s owners to remediate the stream, largely restoring St. Christopher’s. Mark also reminded campers and staff often that though the mine owners were culpable for property damage, all people are responsible for being good stewards of shared resources, and we ourselves contributed to the damage when we used the electricity produced by that coal. It was a tough lesson, and an important one.

That lesson, too, leads naturalists to value urban density — because it seriously reduces our own contributions to the human damage of natural places. New York City has the highest population density of any large area in the United States, with 27,000 residents per square mile. New York City also has a vastly smaller per-capita carbon footprint than typical American places: in 2015, an average resident produced emissions equivalent to 6.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide, less than a third of the national average of 19. Likewise, an average New York City resident uses far less energy and produces far less waste than an average American. It’s no coincidence that urban density reduces carbon footprints, energy use, and waste. Density enables car-free transportation, which burns little or no fossil fuel. Density also makes residences more efficient, because apartments are insulated by their neighbors, and because smaller residences almost always require less heating and cooling. And as anybody who’s cleaned out their garage knows, having more space inevitably leads to accumulation of more stuff — not all useful!

Reflecting more deeply, the lesson of stewardship and the naturalist’s leave-no-trace ethos are fundamentally about equity, and urban density promotes equity, too. Beyond leaving natural places untrammelled and less-damaged by climate change, density makes healthy and pleasant lifestyles available to all, even those who never spend time in the woods, either for lack of interest or for lack of opportunity. Regardless of social and economic status, almost everybody can walk and bike, which opens a myriad of possibilities in a well-designed city center. Public transportation is more broadly affordable than personal automobile ownership. And density matters even more for people with disabilities, for whom nearby amenities are no mere matter of convenience.

Rochester, NY (Credit: Joe Wolf on flickr)

Obviously, Rochester is not as dense as New York City, but at 6100 residents per square mile, its density exceeds many American cities, including Austin, TX (3200), Cleveland, OH (5100), and even the famously bike-friendly Portland, OR (4800). Most of Rochester proper and some suburbs boast sidewalks and gridded streets, making walking and biking easier and more enjoyable. Gems like the Canal Path and River Trail connect pedestrians and cyclists to more amenities over greater distances. Regional bike infrastructure is being steadily improved and expanded. Many neighborhoods in our region are great places for the urban naturalist lifestyle.

Some of Rochester’s density was automatic, because the city predates personal automobiles. But now, building and maintaining people-friendly city centers requires conscious choices, good policies, and ongoing input from citizen-naturalists. Reconnect Rochester has made major efforts to encourage urban density and make outdoor city life more pleasant and equitable. The work continues, and you can help. For starters, Rochester’s zoning laws have put limits on density, but are now being reviewed for revision, so leave a comment supporting urban density. Urge leaders to implement and expand bike master plans. Nearly every local municipality has one, thanks largely to the Rochester Cycling Alliance (for example, see the City of Rochester plan). Or get involved with Complete Streets Makeover for hands-on projects making outdoor urban spaces more practical and beautiful. Get plugged in to Reconnect Rochester’s work so you can learn about opportunities to volunteer for hands-on projects, attend public meetings, sign petitions, and be part of the effort.

The tulip trees on Oxford Street are among the many everyday delights of my bike commute, made possible by urban density. (Credit: Doug Kelley)

In the end, my bike commute may not have the same grandeur as summiting one of the Adirondack High Peaks, but doing it every day makes it more important to my life, health, and peace of mind. On the River Trail in the morning, I see groundhogs and rabbits frequently, and also deer, turkeys, hawks, and occasionally a fox or heron. In the afternoon, I enjoy a grand river vista of the Freddie-Sue Bridge with downtown buildings towering beyond. For one precious week every spring, I revel in an explosion of color when the Oxford Street tulip trees bloom. And knowing that urban density not only helps me enjoy the outdoors, but also helps me leave no trace and allows many others the same benefits — that makes these natural experiences sweeter still. 

2 Comments

20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series: Irondequoit Map

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


Presenting the second in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this next installment, we chose Irondequoit’s “central square” – I-Square – 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 I-Square within 20ish minutes on a bike. Thanks again to Brendan Ryan and Mike Governale for their help putting these maps together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory in Irondequoit, here’s Pam Rogers sharing her personal travel-by-bike experiences.

Introduction

I’m so excited to share with you my personal recommendations for cycling in my favorite area of Rochester, which also happens to be my local neighborhood! Forgive me if it turns out to be an homage to Irondequoit, but it’s my way of letting you know all the best reasons to find yourself cycling here.

If you’re looking for places to ride, no matter what kind of cycling you enjoy, you’ll find something to love here in Irondequoit. It’s full of hills and flats, roads and trails, natural beauty, local history, family fun, and great places to stop and rest for food and drink. Whatever you’re looking for, it can be found between the shores of the Genesee River, Lake Ontario, and Irondequoit Bay!

How To Ride Here

The best route into town are as follows:

  • From the Northwest – the LOSP trail that follows along the parkway is the best, and it drops you out right by Pattonwood Dr and will take you over the river and into Irondequoit.
  • From the Southwest city environs – come on up St Paul St and then hop on the El Camino Trail that begins at Scrantom St and takes you north all the way up to Navarre Rd and across from the Zoo entrance – you’ll love the old railroad bridge that takes you over 104 without worry
  • From the Northeast – Well, when the swing bridge is available it’s easy peasy, but when it’s not you’ll need to approach from the south of the Bay and come around by way of Empire Blvd. Yes, busy with traffic and a very challenging hill to climb – bail out as soon as you can, on Orchard Park Blvd, if you don’t mind a few more hills to climb with a bay view, and then follow Bay Shore Blvd to get you to Ridge Rd and turn right at Kane Dr before it ever gets busy, that will take you right up to Sea Breeze Dr!
  • From the Southeast – The only way to get over the 104 expressway is to take Culver Rd but there are plenty of side streets to stay on south of it, and just north you can turn right on Brower Rd and cut through the neighborhood to come out on Ridge at Walnut Park, then quick jog over to Kane Dr to get to Sea Breeze Dr.

All Roads Lead To/From I-Square!

If you live in Irondequoit, you know our town’s “central square” is now I-Square. It was developed with a vision, to not only improve quality of life for town residents, but also to be a role model for green, environmentally responsible and energy efficient building projects. It’s a destination unto itself with restaurants, rooftop gardens and dining, outdoor amphitheatre, the Imaginarium, Art Gallery and Science Center. 

From here, it will take you less than 20 minutes to ride in any direction and find our other local treasures. West to the zoo and the river, north to the lake, east to the bay, and all wonderful tree-lined neighborhood streets along the way. When riding in town, and you must cross busy intersections, it’s safest to pick the crossroads with lights. For example, riding in northern neighborhoods divided by Hudson Ave, you can cross safely at the light using Brookview Dr to Diane Park.

You can find steep hills, nice flats, and occasional rollers. You’ll find most of the steep hills along the shores of Irondequoit Bay. There are serene and quiet neighborhoods tucked away in all corners of town: check out Rock Beach Rd off Lakeshore Blvd in the North, follow Winona off St Paul Blvd, or discover Huntington Hills nestled up against Durand Eastman Park by taking Pine Valley Rd to Wisner, and be sure to take a fun ride down Hoffman Rd behind the Irondequoit Cemetery to the end where it stops at a trail you can take through the Durand Eastman Golf Course. There, you’ll find an old hidden road overgrown with weeds that you can ride from Kings Hwy N, where Horseshoe Rd stops being a maintained road, and you can ride it along the northern edge of the golf course, across the creek, and back up to Lakeshore Blvd.

There are off road trails to explore as well. You can follow a dirt/stone trail along the east side of the river from Seneca Park Zoo all the way to the lake, which follows the old Windsor Beach Railroad line started in 1883 that traveled from the city’s Avenue E all the way north to Summerville. You can ride challenging single track trails along the west part of the bay in either Tryon Park or Irondequoit Bay Park West. Don’t forget the nicely paved pathways too! There’s one along the shore of Lake Ontario from the corner of Culver and Sweet Fern (right next to Parkside Diner) and extending to just across from Camp Eastman on the lake shore. The other one is Sea Breeze Dr along the northern section of 590 from Titus down to Culver Rd and Sea Breeze.  

Nature/Water/Parks

You may not know this, but Irondequoit, by its very name of Iroquois origin, means “where the land meets the water.” And there’s just nothing like being close to water and natural spaces, is there? The views are beautiful and varied. Some of my personal favorites I’ve already mentioned, and there are smaller parks dotting all the neighborhoods for kids to enjoy too.  A completely hidden gem is Densmore Creek Falls, accessible from the back parking lot of the Legacy at Cranberry Landing at the very eastern end of Norton before it crosses over 590 and drops down by the bay.

Food & Drink

I-Square has plenty of options for food and drink, and beautiful outdoor seating on the roof as well, so if you’re in the neighborhood you can cycle on over and enjoy! Right around I-Square you will also find the Cooper Deli, Titus Tavern and the Irondequoit Beer Company.  At the very northern end of Clinton Ave there’s a little-known but exceptionally unique eating experience that awaits you called Atlas Eats, and it’s the best for a weekend breakfast. Another hidden treasure for you ice cream lovers would be Netsins Ice Cream Shop on Culver Parkway.

If you love to ride farther afield, and take a break from your spinning wheels along the way, our waterfront taverns abound. I love to make routes that include these special stops in the neighborhood for that. Summerville has Silk O’Loughlin’s (Olie’s). Sea Breeze has Marge’s Lakeside Inn (sit on the beach!), Bill Gray’s, Shamrock Jack’s Irish Pub, and Union Tavern (it’s haunted!).  There’s Murph’s Irondequoit Pub, a neighborhood staple, now down by the O’Rorke bridge, and across the way take Marina Dr down to the end and you’ll find Schooner’s Riverside Pub, an open air only open in the summer fun kind of place.

Family Fun

You could plan a day of cycling with the kids in the small neighborhoods in Sea Breeze, stop by Parkside Diner, play a round of mini-golf next door at Whispering Pines, then head down to the Sea Breeze Pier and Beach. Need I say, Sea Breeze Amusement Park? Or ride the little neighborhoods off St. Paul Blvd. around Winona, and at its southernmost tip, take the sidewalk connecting to Maplehurst Rd, turn right and there’s paved access directly into the Seneca Park Zoo.

Routes You Might Enjoy

Feel free to use these as a starting point to create your own adventure!

I-Square to Aman’s Farm Market 3.5 miles see the RWGPS map here.

I-Square to Sea Breeze – 5.6 miles – see the RWGPS map here.

I-Square to Seneca Park Zoo – 2.4 miles – see the RWGPS map here.

I-Square to Parkside Diner and Whispering Pines 5.6 miles – see the RWGPS map here.

I-Square to Stutson Bridge Plaza and Riverside 3.2 miles see the RWGPS map here.

Town Tour from I-Square – 15 miles – see the RWGPS map here.

Map

Description automatically generated

Irondequoit Gravel Growler Beer Ride – 25 miles – see the RWGPS map here.

Map

Description automatically generated
2 Comments

The Books That Changed Me: Terra Nova & Green Metropolis

by Jesse Peers, Cycling Coordinator at Reconnect Rochester

In past blogs, I’ve mentioned how Reconnect Rochester’s ROC Transit Day inspired me to try getting to work on a bike for the first time. I’m so grateful to Reconnect for providing that initial inspiration. I owe further credit to Howard Decker’s blog which introduced me to Eric Sanderson’s book, Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs. If ROC Transit Day got me on a bike for the first time as an adult, Terra Nova kept me on my bike. When the only car I’ve ever had bit the dust while reading this book, I was so inspired by what I was reading that I donated my car to charity and haven’t had a car since.

I’m a bookworm concerned with climate change and on occasion I tackle thick, scholarly books. Maybe due to its length, Terra Nova isn’t for everybody, but to this day it’s the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it! In 2015 I was pleased to discover a great companion piece to Terra Nova: David Owen’s Green Metropolis, a very similar book which is shorter and more readable for most people. Together, these two books examine what got us into this climate mess and how we can get out of it. When one learns about our climate crisis, it’s easy to get discouraged. These books however offer a doable approach that leaves you feeling hopeful and encouraged. We can do this.

Lessons Learned

What both authors make clear is that a cleaner, sustainable future requires an investment and turnaround in three areas of life: energy, land use and transportation (and more generally, our habits). One can pay quite a bit of attention to the climate movement and really only hear about energy, as if all we need is a simple 1:1 substitution between gasmobiles and electric vehicles (EVs); between natural gas and solar. But it’s not that simple. As Evan Lowenstein of The Climate Accelerator points out in this recent blog, tech alone like EVs and solar won’t solve our problem. Part of that is due to energy load: “A million drivers plugging in their cars when they get home from work…would strain the power grid.” We’re simply not ready for that. Besides, fuel efficiency just incentivizes driving more. And we don’t need more traffic and traffic deaths. Status quo car-dependency and the enormous health and financial costs that go with it aren’t the way forward.

The other reason is because as Owen states, “the power we don’t use is more important than the power we do.” Take hot summer days for instance. Nowadays when we’re hot, “we adjust the thermostat rather than identifying the source of the problem and looking for a low-tech remedy.” Let’s instead do “what our parents and grandparents did: opening windows at night, to cool the entire house, then shutting the windows in the morning and drawing the curtains in the sunny rooms, to keep them from rapidly heating up again.” I’ve found that this works on all but the hottest Rochester days. In the same vein, the transportation power we don’t use is more important than what powers our vehicles.


“The transportation power we don’t use is more important than what powers our vehicles.”


Similarly, “we must significantly reduce the number of miles we drive, not merely replace one motor fuel with another one.” As Owen reminds us, “the main job of any car is moving the car itself.” Driving is the least energy-efficient way of getting around and society must start discouraging single-occupancy car trips by making it costlier and less pleasant (and by making the alternatives faster, reliable and more pleasant). We respond to incentives and disincentives. “In the long run, miles matter more than miles per gallon. A  car’s fuel gauge is far less significant, environmentally speaking, than its odometer.”

Perhaps your workplace is too far away to walk, bike or take a bus to. Okay, you’ve gotta drive. But what other regular destinations are near your home? (The grocery store, library, pub, kids’ school, etc.) Sanderson estimates that most people are willing to walk to destinations within a half-mile, bike or scoot up to 2.5 or 3 miles, and take transit to destinations within 5 miles. That’s a great place to start! Reconnect Rochester’s 20 Minutes by Bike map shows where you can get to from downtown Rochester in 20 minutes riding at a casual pace. (Stay tuned to our blog for more area maps to come!)

We must also “contract the distances between the places where people live, work, shop, and play.” This is where land use comes in. Mixed-used development and zoning changes are crucial. This does mean reimagining the suburbs a bit. Both authors make clear that the suburbs as we have known them in terms of car-dependency, can’t last. The societal and environmental costs are too great.

Finally, we’ve gotta deal with our overconsumption. “The average American single-family house doubled in size in the second half of the twentieth century” as family sizes plummeted! Rather than move every seven years to an ever-larger house farther away (only to fill it with more stuff and become even more car dependent), we would do well to develop a philosophy and “economy of enough” as climate activist Naomi Klein notes. Check out Rochester’s old trolley neighborhoods, where most lots don’t have original garages since residents used to walk to the end of the street and take a trolley every morning. Because today’s bus routes still more or less follow those old trolley lines, these neighborhoods have pretty reliable transit.

As you can see, whether it’s resisting the temptation to blast your AC all the time, biking to a destination, or choosing to live closer to work (Rochester remains one of the most affordable communities in the country to live car-free), Americans will have to change habits to meet the climate crisis. We’ve gotta go beyond focusing on what powers our stuff and reexamine how we settle and how we move. It’s important to note many of these lifestyle changes aren’t sexy. Rather than being high-tech and Jetsons-esque, many solutions to the climate crisis are old-school and therefore sustainable footprints and everyday life will look much like how our great great grandparents lived: That’s a good life!

Watch Saga City for more on the crucial role of land use and transportation in building a sustainable future.

4 Comments

Where They Stand: 2021 Candidates for Rochester Mayor & City Council

*NOTE: This list includes all candidates on the ballot for the June 22nd Primary.

 

In April, Reconnect Rochester surveyed all Primary candidates for Rochester Mayor and City Council 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 June 22 and November 2.  We did our best to make contact with all of the candidates.

Click on the candidate names below to read their full, unedited responses. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Candidates for Mayor:

Malik Evans

Candidate Email: malik@malikevans.org

Website: www.MalikEvans.org

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Lack of reliable transportation for city residents to get all over Monroe County in a timely and efficient manner.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

We would cut down on air pollution, greater physical health benefits can be gained by biking and walking.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

We need a real ride share program that targets minority communities that go beyond the pilot stage. We should also explore transportation options that service all corners of the county. Residents should have choices on where they want to work or live and transportation should not be a barrier.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

First off we need more businesses to locate in neighborhoods so that people can bike or walk to work if they choose. Secondly we must ensure that mass transit is efficient and widely available so that people can get to where jobs are.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

I am a big fan of promoting walking. I usually walk to most of my appointments when I am in the downtown area. I would encourage carpooling and we must spread public awareness about biking and safety. It is still way too dangerous for many bicyclist and often pedestrians and that must change.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I would love to be able to walk to city hall or to meetings from city hall. I would also like to take public transit from time to time to demonstrate the importance of mass transit.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I would advocate for Rochesters share of infrastructure funding so that we could have a diverse range of transportation choices for walking, biking and public transportation. Also ensure land use and and transportation regulations are integrated. This can only be done by engaging all sectors of the community. I would make public engagement on transportation and infrastructure a centerpiece of my administration.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

We would encourage and incentivize small and medium size businesses to locate in neighborhoods. A person should not have to travel long commutes for work. I have always had short commutes and this has allowed me to use that time constructively.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

We can always improve on ensuring there is adequate clearing for snow removal around bus stops and frequently traveled walking areas. I see an opportunity to engage the public with getting involved in highlighting the needs and possibly adopting a sidewalk.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Absolutely. I am very distressed by the lack of care on streets across this country. We regularly see people travelling above 40mph on streets across the city.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Speed Bumps, lowered speed limits, and regular public awareness activities. I am still shocked by the lack of respect shown to bicyclist and pedestrians. We must work together collectively to change it.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes and if we work with are partners at every level of Government state and federal we can reach silver.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

We can do better, we need high speed rail and easier transportation options. We should be able to get around without needing access to a car. I believe we can get there.

Mayor Lovely Warren

Mayor Lovely WarrenCandidate Email: Lovely@MayorLovelyWarren.com

Website: www.MayorLovelyWarren.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges are:
1) Ensuring safe, affordable and convenient transit for our low-income families.
2) Building our infrastructure to encourage alternatives to cars while recognizing that the transition to alternatives remains a lengthy process. That means continuing to support our Complete Streets model and build additional bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure as well as supporting ride-share, bike share and transit services to truly enable an alternative transportation network in our City.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

The greatest benefit is the creation of community and the building of relationships between neighbors, local merchants/business and community/governmental organizations.

 

By getting people to truly think locally (walking/biking distance) we can enhance neighborhoods and increase demand for services in our City’s commercial corridors. This will create opportunities and drive investment to areas that have seen chronic disinvestment due to the suburbanization of America.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

The City is eager to relaunch bike share in our community to empower City residents to utilize the resources in their neighborhood or nearby neighborhoods. That street level activity will also build upon itself and spur creative ideas on how to enhance it both economically and socially. A bike share relaunch in partnership with RTS should happen this summer.

 

We should also continue investments like the reconstruction of East Main Street with dedicated bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians to demonstrate how such infrastructure can be the catalyst to rebuild and reconnect neighborhoods.

 

Also, the City should push RTS to consider eliminating fares, where possible, within its system to further encourage the use of public transit.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

We should look to all of the items expressed above: 1) Expand bike infrastructure. 2) Restore bike share service, which is forthcoming. 3) Support ride-share services and encourage operators to adopt equitable practices for drivers and riders. 4) Encourage RTS to eliminate fares, where possible, to encourage use of the transit system. 5) Support the development of our local commercial corridors, like Bulls Head, N. Clinton Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, etc. to create jobs and services closer to where our residents live.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Again, we should look to all of the items expressed above: 1) Expand bike infrastructure. 2) Restore bike share service, which is forthcoming. 3) Support ride-share services and encourage operators to adopt equitable practices for drivers and riders. 4) Encourage RTS to eliminate fares, where possible, to encourage use of the transit system. 5) Support the development of our local commercial corridors, like Bulls Head, N. Clinton Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, etc. to create jobs and services closer to where our residents live.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

Under my leadership, Rochester is one of only 43 cities worldwide to be named an “A” city for its work combating climate change. We were recognized for our notable efforts, including our Sustainable Homes Rochester program, our expansive number of electric vehicle charging stations and our 2-MW solar farm located on the former Emerson St. landfill.

 

We have also been driving the adoption of renewable energy through the creation of Rochester Community Power (RCP). RCP is our community choice aggregation program to provide access to renewal electricity to city residents at lower rates than legacy electricity sources. RCP is in the process of conducting its education and enrollment campaign throughout our city. I will continue to support its efforts to ensure our residents have the ability to improve our environment while reducing their utility bills.

 

As it relates specifically to transportation, in addition to the responses provided above, I have directed our Department of Environmental Services to seek to purchase electric or other green vehicles wherever possible. In addition, DES explores green alternatives during the planning and design of our capital projects to ensure we are leading the way with the adoption of sustainable alternatives wherever possible.

 

In addition, we must continue to implement Rochester 2034 and the Comprehensive Access and Mobility Plan that informed it.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

My administration was proud to complete Rochester 2034, our City’s first update to our comprehensive plan in over 15 years. I am committed to fulfilling this vision. The ongoing reconstruction of East Main St. is clear evidence of this work. With its dedicated and protected bike lanes, sidewalks and other traffic calming measures, the new East Main St. will serve as the first example of how we apply the vision of 2034 to future infrastructure projects.

 

In addition, I am creating a Rochester 2034 governance committee to ensure we implement the plan going forward and that decisions throughout City government are made in accordance with its principles.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

My administration was proud to complete Rochester 2034, our City’s first update to our comprehensive plan in over 15 years. I am committed to fulfilling this vision. The ongoing reconstruction of East Main St. is clear evidence of this work. With its dedicated and protected bike lanes, sidewalks and other traffic calming measures, the new East Main St. will serve as the first example of how we apply the vision of 2034 to future infrastructure projects.

 

In addition, I am creating a Rochester 2034 governance committee to ensure we implement the plan going forward and that decisions throughout City government are made in accordance with its principles.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

No. There is more work to be done. However, it can’t be done by City government alone. We need partnerships with our businesses and community organizations. And, we need our residents to take responsibility where they can.

 

I am committed to exploring how to implement the following items from Rochester 2034; including:

  • Prioritizing facilities according to higher levels of non-automobile traffic, such as mixed-use corridors, bus stops, routes to employment centers frequented by those who cannot or choose not to drive, key trail segments, and areas around large residential buildings.
  • Creating partnerships with other entities to work together on snow removal.
  • Researching equipment and technology available to more effectively construct and treat the surfaces of sidewalks and bicycle routes.

However, despite the need to do more and the partnerships necessary, it is important to note that Rochester is the only upstate city with an extensive sidewalk plowing program that occurs when there are more than four inches of snowfall. This long-standing effort continues to require a great deal of funding and resources and I remain committed to it.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes!

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

We need to continue to design and build projects like the reconstruction of East Main St. with dedicated and protected bike lanes and sidewalks. We need to install additional traffic calming measures throughout the city and fully embrace all of the tenets of our Rochester 2034 comprehensive plan.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes. I envision this as part of our ongoing Rochester 2034 governance committee discussed above.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

I support continuing to build out our bike infrastructure as envisioned in our Rochester 2034 and associated CAMP, as well as, demonstrated by our East Main Street reconstruction and other infrastructure projects.
As you likely know, physical infrastructure, including bike infrastructure is typically funded with capital dollars and not operating funds. Therefore, I support the consistent and annual inclusion of such projects in our Capital Improvement Program and Capital Budget, along with the appropriate operating budget expenditures for maintenance and repair of such infrastructure.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

As I have shared throughout my responses, I am proud that my administration proposed, funded and completed our Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan, including the CAMP. In addition, I am glad we have shown our commitment to making these plans a reality via projects like the reconstruction of East Main Street. Prior to my administration, many of these ideas were proposed, but never realized. I am glad that together, with the support of our community we have made real progress in promoting walking, biking and other transportation alternatives. I understand there is more work to be done and there is more for me to learn. However, I know that I have worked in good faith to achieve these goals and would be honored by the opportunity to continue to work with you.

Candidates for City Council:

Luis Aponte

Candidate Email: Luisaaponte124@gmail.com

Website: www.facebook.com/LuisAponte4CityCouncil/

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Lack of routine financial support and city, county, and state educational programming.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

One of the advantages is that it would have a huge impact on a person’s physical health. I also feel that by getting people out of their cars, it would give them an opportunity to actually see the assets of the community. With pandemic rules loosening slightly, I have witnessed many people taking advantage of not needing to find parking and visiting restaurants that have outdoor seating. People have a bigger tendency to visit local shops and may even help expand ridership amongst youth and children. Most novice riders usually are safe riders and I bet they will be more than willing to create some type of “community riding” programs.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

I feel that the city should make a budgetary line item for the promotion of a “safe riding’ program. Maybe it can be started through the City Recreation Department, and involve some type of partnerships with local bike enthusiast and bike shops. Many children in our poorer neighborhoods either don’t have bicycles or a safe place to ride. We need to get the right people at the table to brainstorm about how a system can be created. I think that having to apply for grant funding yearly makes some of the work already done not sustainable. We need to find funding by having the city and county leadership share the expenses.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

I think that the city should create a program with employers and RTS to give monthly stipends so that during inclement weather people could afford to get to work. The city may also do partnerships with businesses that ask employees to carpool. The city took the initiative to help transport people to a casino that was out of the county, so I think we should invest the same type of ideology to doing things within the city limits.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Obviously I didn’t read all the questions first, because I feel I added some ideas to some of the other questions. At the end of the day, things have to be made affordable. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! In doing a little research, other cities gave tax breaks to employees that took the bus or rode bikes to work. First step would be for the city to use all of its resources to promote bicycling. Supporting the grassroot neighborhood associations may also help build an inner city biking community.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

Educating the community on options available to them and showing price comparisons on how much they can save may be an incentive for some. With the price of parking downtown, I don’t know how people afford to park downtown daily. My sister in law and her friends all carpool together and work downtown, they have done it for years. I am lucky enough to work close to home and sciatica prohibits me from walking long distances. I have grown fond of taking a train to Albany vs driving.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I feel that there has to be specific funding to help support the vision. Funding should include not only painting lanes in the road. Transportation studies need to be done to truly create safe riding lanes. We are blessed with the Genesee Water Ways and paths throughout the city/county. We need to continue supporting and creating new safe bike paths and an intermodal transportation center.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I would like to see new legislation that would help streamline the laws to get vacant and abandoned property issues resolved quicker. All proposals in regards to land use should always be presented to neighborhood residents for debate-approvals. Our city is rich in labor unions and a school district that is suffering. I am a supporter and a product of high school co-op programs that gave youth HOPE of having a good paying job and future after graduation. We must invest in our youth and the school district’s bright stars. Many will hopefully go on to become city home owners and becoming vested in their neighborhoods.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

I am not satisfied with the current processes used. I usually end up repairing my front lawn in spring because of damages rendered by the tractors. The front of my home is a bus stop for young children which is usually has to be cleaned in the morning by members of my family. I feel that there needs to be better equipment used and the job should be done by city employees so that there is a better accountability.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

The city has used some of these practices already across the city. Changing two lane roads into single lanes with bike paths is a good start. Curb cutouts and “curb appeal” also seems to slow down traffic. I do support the approach, but more needs to be done. To me, safety will always be key.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

I feel that we must enforce the laws we have currently on the books, and maybe look into creating new legislation that may bring funding for enhancing street lighting. City forestry should also travel around the city to make sure tree limbs are not hindering lighting. Even with crosswalks and signage, it seems that some major intersections are horrendously unsafe. We need to do routine PSAs to remind motorist/pedestrians on the rules of the road. I would love to see the rails to trails program revisited to see if some of the areas could be paved like the areas near the canals.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

I truly feel that this can be very exciting for residents that love cycling. Giving community members some ownership to programs like this would enhance many relationships, and may actually be a huge selling point for living in certain neighborhoods.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

This was my answer to one of the other questions. I must be honest, I thought we already had one that was run poorly! In order for this to grow and be successful, it needs to be funded and must have leadership that is passionate about the project.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

Compared to where we were even 5 years ago, I feel that we have done some strides in certain areas. I wish we would have made one huge transportation hub which included rail and busing. I feel we missed the mark on putting the RTS station where it is. I always felt that the bike lane markings should have been reflective in some way for the safety of bicyclist. I would like to see yearly “bike rodeos” where kids could get free helmets and rider education. Including bike giveaways would be great in a event like that. Just some of my thoughts. As a paramedic, I have seen many severe injuries due to lack of bike education and head injuries.

I would like to say Thank You for the opportunity to earn your support. These questions actually made me think more about transportation safety. Please feel free to reach me with any questions or clarification.

Leticia D. Astacio

Candidate Email: astaciolaw@gmail.com

 

After several follow-up attempts, we did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

Mitch Gruber

Candidate Email: MitchForCityCouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.MitchGruber.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

This city has been built for automobiles. People with cars get where they want to go, when they want to go there. People without cars struggle because of issues with public transit, bicycle infrastructure, and pedestrian walkways. The result is an issue of transit equity, which is the biggest transportation challenge we have.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Reduction in car travel would foster societal, environmental, and economic improvements. We’d see more connectivity between people, less emissions, and budgets that would focus more on people and less on cars.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

We can continue to invest in bicycle infrastructure and tighten the relationship between City and RTS.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

We must strengthen our routes for bicycle commuters. The upcoming bicycle boulevard initiative demonstrates a huge investment in commuter bicycling, but we have a lot more work to do. Most notably, we need an updated and improved bike master plan.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

I will continue to try and model the behavior of someone who cares about multi-modal transit. In my time on Council, I’ve posted videos and talked at length about bike riding, walking, and taking the bus. In fact, pre-COVID I walked from my house to every City Council meeting, recorded it, and invited community members to join. I will continue to do this type of work.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

When we were still meeting in person, I walked to every single Council meeting and put it on Facebook live. I will continue to walk to Council, ride in every unity ride, and always make sure that the City is thinking about bike/peds in any construction project.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I believe that my actions of the last 3 years should demonstrate to Reconnect my full, 100% commitment to the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

One of the core economic development policies that the City adopted in recent years was to strengthen REDCO and move it out of City government. The result is an organization with more flexibility to facilitate economic development in specific ways. REDCO must encourage job creation and development in the city core, to better connect people to employment opportunities. Moreover, REDCO has the opportunity to be a transformative funder for transit equity, as they will be investing into commercial corridors. We must advocate for REDCO to think about transit equity whenever they invest in a commercial corridor.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

No. We need to continue to plow bike lanes, sidewalks, and bus stops. The issue has been, and will continue to be, money and resources. I will continue to advocate for more snow removal as we went a new budget year.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Continue to invest in new bike infrastructure (Roc the Riverway, Bicycle Boulevards) and wayfinding tools .The City should also be partnering with Reconnect to create some of the videos and content that help facilitate safer streets.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes. I’ve also advocated for a bike/peds specialist on staff, and I will continue to do so.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

The City has made a lot of great improvements in the past three years, and I am proud of them. We also have a long way to go. I believe my track record has demonstrated my interest and ability to work with Reconnect to achieve shared goals. I will continue to do that work.

Anthony Hall, Jr.

Candidate Email: hallforcitycouncil@yahoo.com

Website: www.facebook.com/AnthonyHallforRochesterCityCouncil

 

This candidate declined to participate in the questionnaire.

 

 

 

 

 

Brittan Hardgers

Candidate Email: bhardgers4council@gmail.com

Website: www.peoplesslateroc.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester City residents deserve a public transportation system that is affordable, safe, has accommodating schedules and is structured by location that they can get to their chosen destination with ease. Scheduling and location of stops makes it extremely difficult for residents to get to their jobs, especially outside of City limits.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Reducing each resident’s and our city’s carbon footprint is invaluable to our city’s future. And we live in a City that experiences extreme poverty especially within our Black and Brown community. Providing affordable and accessible alternative modes of transportation isn’t just a benefit to our City, it is a necessity to many Rochesterians’ who can’t navigate the City any other way.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

Make sure that our communities are always the number one priority in our decision making. They also should be working closely with the county to make sure Rochesterians’ needs are met when using public transportation to access locations outside of the city.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

Increase stops, expand schedules and ensure that Rochestarian’s are able to access jobs outside of the city limits.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Support businesses who work to provide incentives for their employees to encourage alternative transportation.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I commit to fighting to extend routes, schedules and making public transportation more accessible for us all. With those aspects in place I certainly am willing to participate in the same transportation alternatives that we are encouraging the community to utilize.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I support the study of how best we can serve underserved and marginalized populations within our community. Creating not just a utopian vision of Rochester, but a practical, substantial plan to make the average Rochesterians’ life better, easier and more successful. The elements that include assessment and implementation of providing economically beneficial options that also will benefit the environmental impact upon our world will have my full support.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I will support land use and economic development policies that encourage responsible business growth and economic growth without sacrificing the green standards and clean living that will sustain our community for generations.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

My Grandmother utilizes a walker to help her get around. Every winter, I worry about her ability to navigate the sidewalks safely. I was raised by my Grandmother. She saved my life and it was her that first taught me the importance of rallying and visiting legislatures and leadership to advocate for those most vulnerable in our community. Now is my opportunity to advocate for her and the rest of my elders to make sure their needs are met. I would love to see a more comprehensive plan to make sure that the streets, bus stops and sidewalks are clear and safe in all weather for our youth and elders.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes I do. All Black Lives Matter and we can’t afford to lose one more life for any reason. If there are inexpensive and feasible ways to make small changes in traffic and transportation that can save lives, there is every reason to make those adjustments.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

The increase of bike lanes to provide bicyclists a safe and convenient lane to ride.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

I believe that we are all the experts of our own experience. By listening to the voices of those amongst us who are most affected by the decisions we make, we ensure that they make sense and are providing people what they actually want and need.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

By defunding the RPD and reallocating funds to various types of community programming, services and infrastructure changes, quality of life would most certainly improve for our city residents.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

Jonathan W. Hardin

Candidate Email: mrjhardin@yahoo.com

Website: www.jonathanhardin.nationbuilder.com

 

After several follow-up attempts, we did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

Jazzmyn Ivery-Robinson

Candidate Email: jazzforcitycouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.jazzmynivery.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Although there are various transportation challenges that Rochester struggles with, I believe a large challenge is the way in which the City of Rochester provides transportation options for individuals with disabilities.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

The top benefit for utilizing additional travel is an increase in mental and physical health.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

I believe that the city can work with RTS and other transportation services to all same day rides that allows for individuals with disabilities the ability to travel with reliability and the option to travel beyond Monroe County. I also believe in expanding the Uber services here to UberWAV which will allow for an additional alternative to an affordable wheelchair accessible vehicle.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

Advocating for and reallocating funds to expanding transportation services, increase bike lanes throughout the City of Rochester, and expanding employment opportunities throughout the city and closer to bus routes to allow for ease of access and less commute time.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Increasing education relating to transportation options. By talking with residents we can examine any hesitations that individuals may have and provide solution options. I will advocate to expand current transportation and bring new transportation options to the City of Rochester.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I am not a stranger to using the bus system to City Hall. While a student in the Urban-Suburban program I had to utilize the RTS system to get from my home in the city to Pittsford Mendon. Throughout college I utilized the bus system provided by RIT, walked, or biked. I believe that we all can play a role in reducing our transportation carbon footprint. I would encourage the community to examine their personal needs, health, etc. and whenever they can to use an alternative method than a car. However, if a car is needed I would encourage carpooling, staying up to date on service maintenance, etc.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

If elected, I will support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034 by holding myself and accountable and my colleagues accountable in ensuring that we deliver on what has been laid out in the plan to ensure that we are providing a community where all residents can prosper.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I support a transit oriented development model. I believe in mixed use communities and while creating at minimum living wage jobs, affordable housing, grocery stores, etc. that are close to the bus terminal and within walking distance.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

I believe that there is always room for improvement. Right now according to the City of Rochester website residents are required to remove the snow in front of their homes when the snow is less than 4 inches. I believe there is an opportunity to reallocate funds for the removal of snow by city employees when the snow is less than 4 inches as this will help not only walkers, bikers, but also individuals within wheelchairs.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

I am a supporter in expanding bike lanes throughout the City.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

Willie J. Lightfoot

Candidate Email: WillieLightfoot4CityCouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.WillieLightfoot.com

 

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

Stanley Martin

Candidate Email: Iknowstanleymartin@gmail.com

Website: www.peoplesslateroc.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Our challenges lie in the inability of our community members to cheaply, efficiently, and safely move throughout our city landscape. These challenges are felt most often and most harshly by Black and Brown communities and are inextricable from questions of class. There are people in our community facing hours of daily commuting in order to get to work on public transportation. Problems like this stem not only from our flawed public transportation system, but also the inaccessibility of walking and biking as reliable transportation and the fact that so many of our city residents do not have reliable employment within a short distance of their homes.

 

Like so many other matters, our transportation challenges are intersectional and must be view through a holistic lens if we are to come up with sustainable and equitable solutions. This starts with the centering of communities that are most affected by the flaws and allowing them to speak to the changes that would best serve them. It also means reallocating funding to enable bold and meaningful changes to the way we address transportation in our city.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

When people walk, bike, run, or skate through their community they connect and interact with it in a very different way. Stopping to look through the windows of small businesses, taking a detour through a park or along the riverway to admire our incredible local landscape, saying “hello” to the person going by; these things help build a community. These modes of transportation are also cheaper, better for the environment, and better for the body than driving.

 

It is important that we make sure all of our city roadways and sidewalks are equally accessible to these modes of travel, and that all of our communities are given the same resources and attention as we improve on our infrastructure and cultivate green space.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

Bringing the most affected communities to the table in order to decide on the solutions, rather than deciding on their behalf is the most important part of any solution. Bus riders and drivers are not only the most affected by these, they are also the premiere experts on them. Additionally we can allocate funds to improve on the routes, the accessibility of our buses and stations, and reduce the cost for our riders.

 

We also need to find ways to keep our community safe while using public transport that does not involve policing. People using public transportation are disproportionate targeted by police, which is problematic enough without considering how many Black and Brown youth rely on public transportation. Equitable transportation means making sure that riders are being subjected to profiling and surveillance by RPD.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

A more efficient public transportation system is a part of this solution, but we also need to make sure that our communities have good, reliable jobs within their neighborhoods. Every person in Rochester should have the opportunity to support themselves and their family within walking distance.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

When elected, I will advocate for commuter benefit programs where employees can use pre-tax income to pay for various forms of public transportation as we move towards a system where it can be permanently free for all our residents. If we are serious about reducing emissions, serving our communities, and reducing vehicle traffic for a Vision Zero approach to transportation then we need to get serious about solutions.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I am certainly willing to take the bus, bike, or walk to City Hall. I also support the purchase of additional electric busses until the entire RTS fleet is fully electric by 2030.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

“I will support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034 through the following measures:

  • Advocate for complete streets, led by community design, that are accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists.
  • Advocating that fees for public transit be eliminated
  • Exploring options for additional modes of public transit including a city-wide light rail
  • Partnering with advocacy organizations such as Reconnect Rochester and frontline community members to advocate that policies best align with community needs aspirations.”

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

Community Land Trusts (CLT) can be an invaluable resource for youth employment, community education, quality nutrition, climate justice and housing development without displacement. I fully support CLT initiatives to further community control of residential & commercial spaces. When elected I work to further empower CLTs through public policy.

 

I also support a new vision for civilian-led public safety that directly engages and employs folks from marginalized communities in Rochester in good paying, unionized jobs. In particular, creating Community Safety Centers that would provide a wide array of services including family assistance, conflict mediation, civilian crisis intervention, and funds to compensate individuals and families who have experienced racism and other forms of discrimination. This new vision would also develop sites offering paid peer counseling, treatment programs, legal services & case management to improve housing, health care, employment opportunities, immigration advocacy & public benefits.

 

This would include enacting a Civil Life Corps to work with communities to help resolve day-to-day programs and address community needs including access to quality transportation, housing, voting rights, environmental equity & conservation. It would also involve creating civilian response teams who are trained in first aid, car mechanics, and de-escalation & conflict resolution to respond to traffic safety incidents. This plan can help create real employment opportunities to uplift neighborhoods across Rochester and puts the control exactly where it should be: in the community.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

The City of Rochester must implement stronger snow removal policies. With such snow-intensive winters, whole City blocks can be rendered inaccessible to frail older adults and people with mobility disabilities. It can also pose a tremendous a risk of injury due to falls. When elected, I will fight to make sure that we have comprehensive snow removal policies in all neighborhoods that ensure accessibility throughout the Fall and Winter months.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Traffic-related deaths and injuries are not an inevitability, but are tied to planning and policy. I support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, including lowered speed limits, pedestrian zones, barriers that separate cars from bikes, and other measures. In addition, to re-imagine transportation & traffic safety, I support the use of civilian response teams who are trained in first aid, car mechanics, de-escalation & conflict resolution. I fully support community input and influence in determining appropriate policies needed to improve traffic safety in our neighborhoods. This includes consulting and soliciting input from neighborhood organizations, tenant unions, individuals & families, and faith communities.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

To make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities, I support complete streets, led by community design, that are accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists. These may include bike lanes, roundabouts, improved, comfortable & convenient transportation stops, median green spaces, street art, and other features.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

I fully support the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations. I believe that we are all the experts of our own experience. By listening to folks directly affected by these decisions, we will ensure that public policies align with community needs.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

I am a strong proponent of transitioning funds away from policing and into community-based services and infrastructure, which includes investing in alternative modes of transportation such as bike infrastructure.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

We have a long way to go before we achieve equitable, reliable, and sustainable transportation in this city, but if we continue to organize and work together towards real solutions with an intersectional mindset then we can achieve the kinds of changes that we all know our community needs and deserves. If you support this agenda, or have any input on how we can improve our positions regarding transportation here in Rochester, please visit Peoplesslateroc.com and get connected with our campaign.

Miguel Melendez

Candidate Email: melendezforcouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.melendezforcouncil.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

There are a few… First, I believe our public transportation system is still challenging. I know that we are in the process of making changes but it still takes too long to travel in this City with public transit. I also believe that our communities lack public transit amenities such as street furniture and bus shelters. Over time, we have removed more and more of these features instead of repairing/replacing them. I also believe we have to increase our active bike lanes and “sharrows.” We have come a long way since that time and I believe the work of that committee helped set the stage for increasing access in Rochester. Since joining council, I have helped improve the bicycle boulevards efforts and sought increased wayfinding, something I will continue to advocate for as a sitting councilmember. We still have a lot of work to do. I think dedicated bike lanes and increased biking infrastructure are great next steps and hopefully the East Main Street project will be a great example of what we can do as we approve large road reconstruction projects. I also believe we have to improve walkability in our communities as part of the Roc 2034 comp plan. We need to couple our placemaking strategies with our transportation efforts to ensure people have access to new destinations.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

I think it helps create a sense of community. Everything is different in a neighborhood when you have neighbors walking instead of driving past each other. I have seen this benefit with the opening of the international plaza, something that is near and dear to my heart as part of my work in the El Camino neighborhood at Ibero. In the neighborhood vision plan, residents were clear; they wanted a neighborhood that had destinations, walkability, and where they could recirculate their dollar. Creating destinations AND making those destinations accessible are both important. I worked with residents to apply for and implement a “Complete Streets Makeover” project on North Clinton Avenue. Through that project, we painted two crosswalks, bump-outs, a ramp for accessibility, and public art across North Clinton Avenue to the International Plaza site (before it was built) to demonstrate the vision of neighbors in the area. While we certainly wanted to do more with the project (such as add a temporary median on North Clinton Avenue), we have advocated for the city to add permanent crosswalks in the future. So the benefits from my perspective are improved quality of life, improved health, improved safety, cost savings for the resident and reduced negative impact on climate change.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

City government can improve transit by improving street amenities, advocating for the creation of more East/West bus routes (some of which is occurring in Reimagine RTS, such as the Upper Falls BLVD route), continuing to develop street infrastructure (dedicated bike lanes, bike lanes, sharrows, wayfinding, etc.), developing more transit options (PACE bikes, increased bus route frequency, etc.) and maintaining an affordable system for the public by investing in public transit, as needed and appropriate.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

I believe, wholeheartedly, there is an opportunity to bring some of the jobs our citizens take closer to home. For example, we have learned so much during the pandemic and working remotely is now a way of life. While not everyone has access to technology, we have access to vacant warehouse and old manufacturing spaces all across the city in our urban neighborhoods that could be repurposed. I do not understand why we need to have our citizens take two buses to work at a call center in Henrietta when people could work at a call center up the street. With that being said, let me answer the question. What I have said in my other responses rings true here. I also think we can encourage employers to help with incentives for employees. Major employers should be able to invest some resources in transportation. Training and placement programs like YAMTEP have figured out how to provide transportation to clients to employment opportunities. Coming out of the pandemic, I think rideshare/carpool options should be considered.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

With the transit center being so close to City Hall, I think there are great opportunities for City employees to reduce their carbon footprint. However, there are many jobs do require constant transportation in the field (such as inspectors) where it would be hard to find an alternative. As a councilmember, I believe the best way to encourage and incentivize residents is to improve the amenities. If we can continue to invest resources to create a more robust system where citizens see themselves utilizing alternative transportation methods.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I started my career riding a bus to and from work. I did not start driving until a year into my professional career. I drive now out of necessity and a packed calendar. However, I certainly would be willing to push myself utilize the bus more often, particularly to City Hall.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I believe in connecting all the broken links in our trail systems. I will support existing bridges, advocate for the running track bridge to be completed, continue to invest in bike blvds and support the advancement of CAMP. I have been and will continue to do these things. As part of the Capital improvement plan for the City, many of these issues are in the current 5-year plan. I also believe that there is more opportunity with the American Rescue Plan to support infrastructure projects, we are still awaiting for guidance from the federal government. So, this is on the radar of the current administration and I believe current councilmembers do see the value in these efforts. What we have to do is bring transportation infrastructure to more of the side streets. I will continue to work on all of these things as a sitting councilmember and hope to do more to improve infrastructure over the next several years.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I would incentivize repurposing existing infrastructure to create more economic activity in city neighborhoods. I believe that ultimately we have to find new and innovative ways to keep more dollars in our community and recirculate those resources as often as possible. I feel we have too many chain businesses interested in locating on our commercial corridors (family dollar stores being a prime example) that put very little back into our neighborhoods. Vacant buildings are assets and we have to find ways to incentivize reinvestment in infrastructure to private owners. I also believe we have many jobs in our region but there is a disconnect. I will work to help fix the community to opportunity pipeline, so that inner city residents are aware and connected to available options. I believe the office of community wealth building under the Mayor’s office can be a tremendous asset in this space.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

I think the snow removal policy is decent but we need to improve in two areas. First, I would like to see better clearance for ADA ramps/cross walks and at bus stops/bus shelters. Too often we see people riding or walking in the street because of this issue. Second, I also believe the City should consider snow removal on sidewalks for residential streets. How we achieve this might be a challenge. I know it is the responsibility of the resident to remove snow in front of their homes, but often, people neglect that part of the responsibility. I think a policy that targets snow removal during major storms (i.e., maybe over 10 inches of snowfall?) should be considered, at a minimum. This could be similar to our high grass & weed policy.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

I believe we should lower the speed limit on residential streets to 25 mph. I have been part of the drive 2 be better planning efforts and signed onto various advocacy letters/efforts to reduce the speed limit in the city of Rochester. I also believe we should invest more in traffic calming infrastructure such as bump-outs, tree plantings, raised crosswalks, painted crosswalks, and speed bumps. I understand there is a limit to some of these strategies but traffic speeds in a neighborhood certainly impact quality of life. It impacts play in neighborhoods too, as parents often site speeding cars as one of the reasons they do not allow their children to play outside. I do believe traffic deaths are preventable.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

1.) Lowering the speed limit on residential streets (25 mph)
2.) Increasing road infrastructure such as bump-outs and exploring more road diets on major arterial streets.
3.) Plant more trees in tree lawns (proven to slow traffic)
4.) Increase use of protective bike lanes as a future strategy
There are many other suggestions in other answers that I wont repeat.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

I would be. I have been part of such efforts at community tables, but institutionalizing the conversation in government makes sense. I also know that in addition to the City, GTC and others have a say and sway in the process. We have to figure out how to make these things work together.

One of the issues you will always have to contend with is businesses and “their” parking. We have to find more ways to engage business owners in these discussions too, so they can understand the long-term value of the paradigm shift.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes. I have supported various biking infrastructure projects in the past 6 months on council. I was part of the bike master planning process in a limited way as part of my work with Healthi kids. I fully support the plan.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

I am accessible as a councilmember. Reach out. Include me. Invite me. If I can attend meetings or be helpful, I want to be. I know I have only been on council for 7 months but I feel I have already contributed greatly to these conversations at city hall and have a great relationship with PPW chair.

Miquel A. Powell

Candidate Email: miquelpowell@yahoo.com

Website: www.facebook.com/Miquel-Powell-BSW-for-City-Council-Rochester-NY-350270019114691

 

After several follow-up attempts, we did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

Jasmin Reggler

Candidate Email: Jasmin@jasminforjustice.com

Website: www.jasminforjustice.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges are timely and reliable transportation options.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Walking, biking and using public transportation are options that would reduce fossil fuel emissions in our city. Additionally, residents who reduce their car usage experience greater community contact and engagement while also getting more exercise.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

To support public transit and transportation options, the City government can approve funding increases for the RTS to operate more efficiently. City government can also increase the amount of bike lanes as well as maintain the current bike route system. Currently in Rochester there are many community organizations that provide bikes free of charge to residents. The City might collaborate with these organizations to support the efforts of providing bikes free of charge.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

As a resident without a personal vehicle, by choice, I have experienced first-hand the inadequacies of our public transportation options. Often the RTS runs late or misses stops altogether—this is unacceptable. I understand RTS is rolling out new routes and time standards this year and I will wait to comment any further until the changes have taken place. Consistency, reliability and abundant route options are the most important considerations here.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Within the City network I would encourage employees to carpool by creating a ride-share network. This online option would allow employees to offer/accept rides that were posted. In addition to offering incentives to riding public transportation, such as drastically reduced bus pass rates. More bike parking options would be needed to ensure employees had parking access.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

As a resident without a personal vehicle, I will lead the community by example. I will share my experiences and encourage others to do the same. I would be willing to commute to City Hall to raise awareness of our collective carbon footprint.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I will support the transportation vision of Rochester 2034 by participating in community feedback sessions. As a community member I will be using my voice to represent and advocate for greater and more equitable transportation options for Rochester residents.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

With the legalization of cannabis in NY there will be a revitalization of opportunities in that field. I’d be sure to advocate for those jobs staying in the city core for our residents–creating job creation and sustained employment opportunities right in Rochester.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

Clear sidewalks and bus stops are a must in our city. Due to the harsh winters, this must be made a priority.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

I am comfortable with where the speed limits are at and would work in other area to reduce our carbon footprint.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Improved spacing and visibility of bike lanes.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes, absolutely. Currently community groups are established and I will work alongside folks who are already working on these issues.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes, I would support funding for the infrastructure to be improved. Not only is biking important to achieving our goals of a reduced carbon footprint, but the activity itself is a great benefit for quality of life.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

I am a resident who does not own a personal vehicle. I believe more Rochester residents would feel comfortable to use biking, public transportation, car-pooling if they felt supported by the infrastructure. We can do this!

Victor Sanchez

Candidate Email: info@votevictorsanchez.com

Website: www.votevictorsanchez.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester has a deep-rooted car culture which has unfortunately shaped the way we develop our City and the policies we have set in place. Shifting that culture and undoing the care-centric infrastructure we have developed, is a huge challenge and it will require community support, strategic planning, and dedicated funding. We are lacking the public transit system that is convenient and street/road systems that are people-focused making it easy to walk and bike as a way to get around.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Moving away from relying on cars as a way of travel will have great benefits on the environment as well as community and personal health. A majority of the carbon emissions come from vehicles and reducing the amount of cars on the road will only support the work that needs to be done to achieve cleaner air and combat climate change, both of which have a negative impact on the health of our communities. Reducing vehicles on the road would also create safer streets, and reduce the risk of vehicular accidents and maybe even shift the way neighbors interact and utilize the streets to do that.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

The systemic racism that has segregatedcommunities of color that have gone undeveloped and forgotten needs to be undone.The communities impacted need to be brought into the conversation. The citygovernment needs to work with other elected officials at all levels ofgovernment to continue and grow the support of our transit system and work withRTS to ensure that stops and routes are in all communities, especially thosethat rely on it most. We need to prioritize alternative modes oftranspiration, such as rideshare programs. We also need to shift ourdevelopment to assure our residents can get to resources and serviceswithin a short commute accessible by walking or cycling.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

The city needs to work with businesses, other municipalities, and RTS to assure that there are routes that go to where the jobs are. The city also needs to improve the development of businesses within areas of the city and work to develop business in a strategic approach where transit lines exist. We also need to assure that there is the infrastructure to support other forms of transportation like walking and cycling.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

The main step to encourage anyone to use other modes of transportation is to assure other methods are convenient. The city needs to work with RTS to assure routes are accessible and frequent. The City also needs to make sure that any rideshare programs are easy to use for residents to get to their needed jobs. The city government should lead by example and incentive city employees to use public transportation by providing vouchers or bus passes. The city government also has the power to set a strategic plan to develop any new businesses on transit lines or setting codes prioritizing bike storage over parking in new development.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I look forward to being able to take the bus to City Hall, I wish it was convenient and accessible to take public transit to my day job now. I will continue and do more to support events like Roc Transit Day, and cycling events as well as promote more when I use modes of transit that aren’t my car.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

As someone that was very involved with gathering input for the 2034 Plan, I am excited for the opportunity to support and facilitate the implantation of this plan. A majority of my conversations revolved around increasing walkability and multi-model transportation; I will assure that any remodeling and development of streets are done with this vision in mind and done in a way that highlights safety and transportation choice.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

We have a great opportunity to prioritize and encourage the creation of small businesses through, zoning and eliminate barriers such as minimum square footage, parking requirements which can hinder someone from starting a business. We need to invest in our people encourage entrepreneurial ship through providing support, space, and resources. We have a mixture of industrial skills and innovative technical talent from our universities and industrial past. We need to be creative in finding innovative ways to bring those things together in two the new era.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

I am not satisfied with our existing work, it never feels like there is sufficient sidewalk snow removal, and don’t see much done when it comes to bike lanes or bus stops. I know resources and funding for this work are a challenge. We need to prioritize streets and transit as a matter of safety and equity and having dedicated employees to maintain our streets would be a priority of mine.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes, I fully support a “Vision Zero” style approach including reducing speeds. I have been very appreciative and supportive of some of the innovative ways to achieve this vision through the complete street work that has been going on. I do believe reducing the use of cars and car culture in Rochester is the best way to achieve this vision.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

We need to continue and increase our investment in biking infrastructure. I don’t agree that painted lines for bikes is enough and want to see dedicated bike lanes that are raised or have some kind of barrier from car traffic.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes, this would be a great opportunity to partner with organizations like Reconnect and the Cycling Alliance to assure those that have been strong advocates are part of the process. It will be important that there is true empowerment of the committee and not just symbolic

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes, dedicated budget and resources are important to achieve several of the goals in the previous questions.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

We need to follow our plan and prioritizes walkability and multimodal transportation. We need to change our culture from being car-focused, we need to shift the mindset of having the need of people driving to the front door of their destination.

Kim Smith

Candidate Email: thepeoplesslate@gmail.com

Website: www.peoplesslateroc.com/

 

After several follow-up attempts, we did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

Alex White

Candidate Email: AlexWhiteforRochester@gmail.com

Website: www.AlexWhiteforRochester.org

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester, like most American Cities has been built around the car culture. We allowed cars to destroy public transportation systems and gave it primacy over any methods of transportation that remained. Yet the future does not belong to cars and even the present is becoming filled with other diverse transportation options. So the problem of how to create a modern transportation system that moves people effectively with both public transit and wide variety of private options including, walking, bikes, scooters, skateboards, wheelchairs, as well as cars, is the fore most problem facing our city. Besides this Rochester has poorly invested in public infrastructure which has forced a hub and spoke bus system which is inefficient in every way and serves the public poorly. Finally we have almost no fixed route infrastructure aging bridges, and over built road system.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Abandoning cars has huge health benefits to a community. Besides the health value to an individual of any form of active transport, the Covid crisis has shown getting out of cars will rapidly improve the air quality. There has long been an understanding of the link between air pollution and asthma (https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/links-between-air-pollution-and-childhood-asthma), but there also seems to be a link to heart disease (https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/linking-air-pollution-and-heart-disease) and even cancer and dementia. An improvement in air quality would greatly improve the health of all the citizens and would also help fight global climate change which is straining the planets ability to support large mammals of all types including humans.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

The city has little power to change the RGRTA policy but it should be working with government officials at all levels to fight for additional transportation dollars to start building the fixed route transportation system which will someday have to replace personal use vehicles. Further it can pressure the county and RGRTA to try to improve its systems. It can also do some bus stop improvements like benches, shade, and snow shoveling of bus stops to make them more convenient for the users. Finally it can use small measures to encourage its own workers to use public transit.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

Of course the key to this is improving the public transit system but the city should also have ride share connections opportunities on their web page. They also need to get the bike share program to reach more at need neighborhoods. Of course transportation is one of the many facilitators that allow people improve their employment but there are others that the city can use to improve employment. Many employers are already on public transit lines but the jobs require training, degrees, or certification like Certified Nursing Assistant programs. The city needs to do more to make scholarship or training opportunities available for people so they can access jobs like this which would lift people out of poverty and are easily accessible to the population that most needs it.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

I have long had a number of little things I think would improve the city and one is to eliminate free parking for employees. Instead the city should offer reduced rate or free bus passes, expanded bicycle lock up, storage and repair facilities, and work with RGRTA to have bus routes be more convenient for city services and their employees.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I find myself frequently having to go downtown and I frequently bike or walk there from my house. For years I have been biking or walking to work at my business on Monroe Ave. As a business owner I have encouraged others to try to get bike rakes near their businesses. I fully intend to actively transport to city hall as often as I can and will encourage others to do the same.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

Guiding transportation principles seem to settle on two transportation ideas walk ability and multi-modal transportation. Both principles I believe in. I hope to bring this to city council so that every project in the city can further these ideas. Too often we develop solely to increase density without a focus on creating walk ability and provide for other transportation. Even though we have developed many trails and even a alternative bike routes these seem to be very secondary to other concerns in the city and I hope to change this.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

For years the city has been subsidizing housing in the city core on the belief that that would create a more vibrant city center but that has failed to happen and is unlikely to work as the density needed for even a grocery store is unlikely to ever be reached in the city center. Further despite billions of investment there have been few full time jobs created. Instead of investing in buildings the city needs to invest in people, incubators and space designed for the 21st century. Further the zoning code needs to be modernized to fully recognize home businesses, urban agriculture, work from home spaces, and garage start ups. Of course there is also the opportunity to create jobs through aging in place and housing for persons with disabilities. As such all new construction should be meet the highest standards for persons with disabilities.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

No we are currently doing a worse job at sidewalk cleaning than we did 100+ years ago. Our plows are in many cases not the right tools for this and contracting it out has resulted in less plowing at higher costs. We can not rely upon residents to shovel as even one failure to do in a block renders the whole block impassable. So what we need is more wire brush cleaners, more frequent routes, and a taking this task back in house so we can prioritize it to the routes that most need it. Finally we need to have people who’s only job is cleaning curb cuts and bus stops.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Ideally I support zero cars, the regained parking space alone makes this a great idea but that is unlikely to happen. I feel that we need to do a better job of focused traffic calming to where it is important. After all some of these tactics actually make other active transportation methods more difficult or dangerous, such as narrowing streets which then interrupts bike routes. Yet we need to use a variety of tools to reduce speeds near parks, schools, and other places that children play.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

I like the concept of one way streets with a special lane for non motorized transportation but this is unlikely to happen. What is doable and something I really want to do is get bike boxes at all intersections that have a bike lane at any part of the intersection.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes I would and would work to do this.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

We need it, if for nothing else for maintenance of the infrastructure. Far too often the striping is worn off or the chevrons no longer visible. Further we need to have more information on signs and PSA’s to inform the public how alternatives to cars should work.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

Patricia Williams-McGahee

Candidate Email: patricia4citycouncil@gmail.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

1. Carbon Emissions-need for cleaner energy alternatives regarding transportation 2. Access to more affordable transportation for low income customers. 3. Need for more frequency in access to transportation in certain areas – only available during certain limited hours.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Decreased Pollution:Reduction of our Carbon footprint on the community-world. Help decrease cancers, respiratory aliments and various other poisonous toxin related conditions & diseases. If folks walked and/or bicycled more it would be a positive healthy lifestyle improvement , It would help reduce the community’s increasing obesity (ie. Cycling to work & school)

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

Partner with Banks and other corporate businesses to push an initiative to help fund clean energy transportation alternatives ( ie. electric buses & cars, and even a faster, cleaner & energy efficient skyway development project etc…)

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

Provide free broad ban which could aid many people in working from home. Give incentives to businesses to provide corporate buses, vans and/or cars to transport their employees back and forth to work. Provide City supported ride shares etc… .

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

I will promote a Public Service Add Campaign Communicating this. I would pitch my idea to businesses to participate in providing transportation to their employees (they could pick up a bus or van of employees in energy efficient vehicles.)

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I would ride my bike when the weather permits. I also plan on purchasing an an electric automobile.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I will assist in furthering legislation to approve & allocate funds and partner with businesses and local residents to get it done.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I would champion policy that utilized empty lots and other City owned property in order to increase home construction and home ownership (creating jobs & a road to independence, community pride and personal wealth). I would champion policy and legislation to build a state of the art performing arts center to showcase our very gifted music & the arts community while creating jobs and attracting local art lovers, national and international big named-headliner performers, top investors and people from other areas to relocate and patron the performing arts center, our local restaurants and other businesses, all, which will-generate revenue, greater human capital and greater employment opportunities.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

The snow removal side walk, street & bus stop policies need to improve. The snow trucks block pile up snow in front of driveway hindering cars from exiting after a resident or businesses owner has shoveled. Bus stops are not regularly cleared well, causing bus riders to have to stand in the street, placing themselves in danger.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes. I am in great support in doing whatever is necessary to stop any traffic fatality. The name is odd though I would change it!

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Crack down on speed, alcohol and drug use while driving, auto theft, drag racing and confiscate mopeds, ATVs and other non-licensed vehicles driving illegally on the road. A park for such personal small vehicles (like the skate park) should be created. I would champion the creation of such a park

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

No

Reconnect Rochester would like to thank all of the candidates (and their teams) for the time and effort they’ve dedicated to our community, and for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to working with them very soon.

No Comments

Bike Week 2021

The cycling season in Rochester continues with Bike Week 2021, spanning two consecutive weekends from May 7 to 16 and offering cycling events for all ages and levels of expertise.

The purpose is to celebrate biking in Rochester and expand the use of bikes as practical, daily transportation. With many people taking up biking during the pandemic, Bike Week welcomes new riders and demonstrates the great community and infrastructure available to cyclists in Rochester.
For the second year, Bike Week will present a new themed Ride of the Day (ROTD), with a suggestion for a destination, group ride, or photo op. This is your chance to just get out there, using your own creativity and bikes. Look for our ROTD posts every day on Instagram and the other social media platforms.
Bike Week is put together by Reconnect Rochester and its cycling arm, the Rochester Cycling Alliance, but is truly a grassroots effort in that each event is organized individually. Information for the rides is below, along with a specific contact for each ride. Once again, masks will be mandatory at each event.

Friday, May 7

7:45pm: Light Up the Night Ride (131 Elmwood Ave)

This fun ride to kick off Bike Week begins after sundown and cyclists are encouraged to light up their bikes with glow sticks and bike lights. Gather at the Genesee Valley Sports Complex parking lot after 7pm; kickstands up around 7:45pm. The ride then proceeds through city streets and some trails, at a slow but enjoyable pace. Total distance 11 miles, but there will be shorter loops of 2-5 miles for younger cyclists as well. Dress warm and bring an extra layer for when the temperature creeps down after dark. Contact: Jesse Peers, jesse@reconnectrochester.org

ROTD Bike to a Body of Water. Kick off #rocbikeweek with our the first Ride of the Day! Bike to a body of water. Use your imagination! Lake Ontario. Genesee River. Erie Canal. Mendon Pond. A fountain in a local park.

Saturday, May 8

10:00am: ROC Freedom Riders 2021 Season Kick-Off (Franklin High School)

The ROC Freedom Riders organize big, intentional, action-oriented rides highlighting Black spaces, Black places, and acknowledging Black faces, in the spirit of the original Freedom Riders of the 1940s and 1960s. Contact: RocFreedomRiders@gmail.com

ROTD Bike to Dessert. Are you ready for today’s sweet ride of the day? Ride to dessert! Enjoy an after-meal treat, and bonus for getting there in fresh air and under your own power.

Sunday, May 9 

10:00am: Black Girls Do Bike Mother’s Day Ride (REI parking lot)

Join Black Girls Do Bike Rochester for their first annual Mother’s Day Women’s ONLY Bike ride. Meet in the REI parking lot, where their casual paced canal pathway bike ride will start. Contact: Kecia L McCullough, bgdbrochny@gmail.com

10:00am: Flower City Family Cycling Mother’s Day Ride

Join Flower City Family Cycling on Sunday, May 9 at 10am for an all-ages, family-friendly, social ride to kick off our season! This will be their 4th Annual Mother’s Day ride and they’ll be meeting up in Perinton for a short wetland walk before they hit the trails on their bikes. For details on this ride and a schedule of all their 2021 rides around the Rochester area, join them here: www.facebook.com/groups/flowercityfamilycycling. Contact: Brooke Fossey, brooke.taylor@gmail.com

ROTD Mother’s/Parents’ Day. How about a ride with your kids, or with your mother, or grandmother? Or to your mother’s house? Or meet your mother for brunch. Or any parent, actually. What a nice excuse to ride.

Monday, May 10

7:30-9:00am: Bike to Work Day pit stop, University of Rochester (Elmwood cycle track across from main hospital entrance)

Our region’s largest employer is a wonderful bike destination! Situated along the Genesee River and near the Erie Canal, you’re sure to encounter some scenic spots along your route. The University of Rochester earned a silver “Bicycle Friendly University” award in 2018 and had Rochester’s most used bike share station during Pace’s tenure. To thank people cycling to the River and Medical campuses on May 10, they will have snacks to share in a safe manner. Swing by, fuel up, and talk cycling with their staff partnering and some of our dedicated volunteers. Contact: Tracey Austin, taustin7@parking.rochester.edu

ROTD Bike to Work or School. Start the work week with a practical ride, which you are already heading to anyway. Ride to work or school. If you are working or learning from home, ride around the block back to your “office” or “classroom” and create a new fun commute.

Tuesday, May 11

ROTD Bike to a Susan B Anthony or Frederick Douglass Statue. Celebrate Rochester’s most famous citizens and honor them with a bike ride. Visit any SBA or FD statue and ponder the great things they did for our community. Since it’s Tuesday, traditionally Election Day, may we remind you to make sure you are registered to vote.

Wednesday, May 12

5:30pm: GROC Pizza Party Ride ( 230 Tryon Park)

Come for a chill ride at Tryon/Bay Park West. No drop ride, all are welcome! Just bring a good attitude, a desire to ride bikes and eat pizza and have a beer after! Thanks to Lindsay Card for setting this up and donating pizza afterwards! Schedule: 5:30 to 7:30 – Meet at Tryon Parking Lot for a ride. 7:30 Pizza and beverages after at Salvatores on Main!

7:00pm: RBK Wednesday Night Cruise (Ice Rink, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park)

The Rochester Bike Kids are a dynamic, informal group of mostly young people who bike together regularly. All bikers are welcome. Their signature ride is the Wednesday Night Cruise (WNC). They congregate around the ice rink at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in downtown Rochester every Wednesday at 7pm and roll out at 7:30. More info at https://www.facebook.com/groups/rocbikekids Contact: Bryan Agnello, bagnello@gmail.com

ROTD Run an Errand by Bike. Do something by bike you needed to do anyway: a grocery stop, the bank, pharmacy, etc. Feel the freedom of finding easy parking right at the front door.

Thursday, May 13

ROTD Bike to a Bridge. As a way to “bridge” the work week and the weekend (see what we did there?) we suggest Pont de Rennes, one of Rochester’s most scenic, with a spectacular view of the falls. If that’s out of your distance ability, choose another bridge – over a path, stream or highway.

Friday, May 14

6:30-10:00am Bike to Work Day pit stop (Genesee Riverway Trail, just south of the skate park)

If you’ve never tried biking to work, this is the week! Rochesterians are very fortunate to have an average 4.1-mile commute to work, which is about 25 minutes by bike at a casual pace. To thank people cycling to work on May 14th, the Rochester Cycling Alliance will have munchies to share and celebrate those who get to work on two wheels. Swing by, fuel up, and talk cycling with our dedicated volunteers. Contact: Jesse Peers, jesse@reconnectrochester.org

7:45pm Light Up the Night Ride redo (131 Elmwood Ave)

This fun ride begins after sundown and cyclists are encouraged to light up their bikes with glow sticks and bike lights. Gather at the Genesee Valley Sports Complex parking lot after 7pm; kickstands up around 7:45pm. The ride then proceeds through city streets and some trails, at a slow but enjoyable pace. Total distance 11 miles, but there will be shorter loops of 2-5 miles for younger cyclists as well. Dress warm and bring an extra layer for when the temperature creeps down after dark. Contact: Jesse Peers, jesse@reconnectrochester.org

ROTD Bike to a Park. Pay homage to the Flower City with your choice of destination, as long as it’s got flowers. A park or garden or even a cemetery. Stop and smell the roses! 

Saturday, May 15

9:00am-noon Exercise Express Bike Ride & Wash (200 West Avenue)

Come celebrate Bike Week with Exercise Express LLC at their first annual bike ride & wash. Kickstands up at 11am. They will ride through the 11th & 19th Wards promoting unity and community engagement. Towels, buckets, soap and water provided by Exercise Express. Donuts & water will be served. Contact: Karen Rogers, krogers@theexerciseexpress.com

10:00am-noon George Eastman Bicycle Tour (900 East Ave)

See Rochester in a new way. A nod to George Eastman’s own love of cycling, the George Eastman Bike Tour will take you to ten different locations related to the life and work of this pioneer of popular photography and famous Rochesterian. You will see buildings and sites that shaped Eastman’s life—or were in turn shaped by him. $25. Must buy a ticket to participate: eastman.org/biketours

3:00-5:00pm Beechwood Community Ride (530 Webster Ave)

Please join us for the 4th Annual Beechwood Bike Ride — a community bike ride around the Beechwood neighborhood! It’ll be a slow and leisurely ride around our neighborhood lasting about 1 hour and followed by a picnic in Grand Ave Park. Route details coming soon to https://www.facebook.com/events/170554108260366 Those who aren’t able to ride are encouraged to join afterwards for the picnic at 4:00pm. Snacks and beverages provided! We have a small number of bikes available to loan out for the ride, so comment if you’d like to use one. Ride kicks off at the Ryan Center and ends at Grand Ave Park. Please spread the word to your Beechwood friends and neighbors!

ROTD Bike to Someplace New. Find a new trail or neighborhood you’d like to visit.

Sunday, May 16

11:00am: Keeping It Classy Cycling Club Flower Pedal Populaire

Rochester Bike Week 2021 culminates with this 10-13 mile fancy-summery-dress themed ride, which will depart at 11am and take a leisurely pace through and around the city. Plan for a picnic afterward in one of our lovely local parks and fun with local cyclists! For more details, check out facebook.com/KICCCRochester Contact: Dan Slakes, danos.711@gmail.com

ROTD Choose Your Own Bike Adventure. It’s about the journey, not the destination. As a close to Bike Week, find a friend to ride with and just enjoy the glory of getting around on two wheels.

No Comments

A Climate Solutions Blind Spot: Seeing Beyond Electric Cars

Guest blog by Evan Lowenstein, Director of Communications and Membership at the Climate Solutions Accelerator

Remember when you learned how to drive? You learned about the blind spots to the left and right of your vehicle, those spots where another car might be, hidden even from all your mirrors. That there might be things there you aren’t seeing. 

There’s another blind spot putting us at risk here in car-centric America: the one that prevents us from thinking beyond the automobile as we strive for climate solutions and a truly sustainable society.

Image Credit: State Farm on Flickr

The rise in concern about climate change in society and industry is encouraging, and happening not a second too soon. But the well-intentioned efforts run the risk of falling way short because of our perilously persistent belief that we can achieve a climate-safe, sustainable future simply by running our cars on something besides fossil fuels.

Transportation accounts for 40% of our climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, and converting vehicles from fossil-fuels to more cleanly-generated electricity surely can reduce those vehicles’ emissions. But the way they are fueled is just one of many environmental, economic, and equity problems caused by our cars — and just one of the problems inherent in our prevailing transportation model and mindset. 

Thus, there is an inconvenient truth hidden in our blind spot: as we seek transportation modes and systems that are better for the environment, for the economy, and for equity, electric vehicles are the next-worst option to the fossil-fueled ones. 

Why Electric Vehicles Aren’t Enough

The switch to electric cars as a solution to climate change depends simultaneously on a massive transition to renewable energy, such as wind and solar, happening at an unprecedented speed. If we don’t transition to renewables as fast as we transition to electric cars, electric vehicles won’t produce any real progress on climate change. The switch also means a massive increase in demand on our already-strained electric grid; in addition to the cost of putting up that much renewable energy, we then have to upgrade the grid to carry it all.

And electric cars are still cars — machines that produce environmental impacts such as water pollution from tire and brake residues, and leaks of toxic materials from millions upon millions of compromised vehicles; pollution from extraction of materials needed and energy needed to make them; gargantuan fossil-fuel expenditures needed to transport them from manufacturer to individual buyer. In addition, the massive road and storage infrastructure (parking lots) needed to accommodate individual cars as a primary transport choice has titanic environmental impact: polluted runoff, biodiversity loss and roadkill from fractured habitat, etc. Having to maintain all this outsized, inefficient infrastructure forever also creates enormous financial challenges for governments, and prevents resources from being used more wisely.  

The Cost of Personal Vehicles 

Speaking of roadkill — cars also kill a lot of people too, upwards of 60,000 annually in our country from crashes and illness from fossil-fueled air pollution. And many people killed by cars are low-income and people of color, forced into walking or cycling in car-centric communities without adequate provisions for pedestrians or cyclists; and/or forced into living in places with the worst auto-borne air pollution.

Car-culture also creates and perpetuates more inequity like this. Cars are already expensive to own, maintain, insure, and fuel. Low-income people without the means to own cars are shut out from many needs and opportunities (jobs, education, recreation, culture) that are accessible only by car. In addition, most low-income people rent instead of own their housing, and even if they were able to access electric vehicles, they likely wouldn’t have easy access to charging. If the shift to electric vehicles makes car ownership even more out of reach for low-income people, the equity gap exacerbated by car-culture will grow even wider. 

Building a Multi-Modal Future

We must start seeing what’s in the blind spot–the fact that a switch from gas-powered to electric vehicles cannot be the primary push as we strive for sustainability. Instead, we must understand that the best car trip for climate and sustainability is not an electricity-powered car trip, but the absence of a car trip.  

Then, we must focus our planning and funding to make it easier for more people to transport themselves by bus, rail, bicycle, and foot. Note that an electric bus or train uses ten to twenty times less electricity per passenger mile than an electric car does — no matter how clean or dirty the electricity supply is, they are always that much better. And even if buses and trains aren’t electrified, they produce less overall impact than electric private vehicles as a whole, simply by transporting more people over less distance. Walking and bicycling for transportation — if done safely using adequate infrastructure provided for it — produces positive health benefits along with the environmental benefits.

Seeing what’s in the blind spot also means developing land and our communities more efficiently so that transit, bike, and pedestrian transportation modes are viable for a lot more people. Community design with this location efficiency in mind will also save energy, land, and natural resources, meaning that planning for car-free lives enables climate solutions well  beyond the transportation modes themselves. This location efficiency also makes it more feasible for car sharing and carpooling — putting more people in each car is a super-sensible and affordable climate solution as well. 

The hard truth is that climate solutions, sustainability, and equity cannot be achieved solely through intention, but rather through execution. And executing requires plugging all the key facts into our designs of policy and place. We cannot let this big blind spot — an overemphasis on electric cars — run us off the road to our destination: a cool, carbon neutral planet.

1 Comment

20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series Kickoff: Downtown Rochester Map

Rochester is famous for its 20-minute commute. For driving that is. Reconnect Rochester and the Rochester Cycling Alliance are excited to unveil a blog series to ask a different question: Where can you get within 20 minutes on a bike?

We chose the 20-minute benchmark for two reasons:

  • Nationally, half of our car trips are within 3 or fewer miles, which equates to a 20-or-so-minute bike ride at an easy, casual pace. If we could save our cars for cruddy weather, when the distances are too long or when we are transporting multiple people ౼ and biked the rest of the time (only for short solo trips in good weather!), we’d live in a different world. We’d be physically and financially healthier. The planet would be healthier. The air would be cleaner. There’d be less wear and tear on the roads. Our streets would be safer for everyone.
  • To inspire people to “shift modes” and choose to walk, bike or use public transportation some of the time – we’ve gotta start with the low-hanging fruit. Though longer distances are absolutely attainable eventually, most people experimenting with biking-as-transportation are going to start with nearby destinations. And that’s totally fine!

This isn’t about getting “into cycling” or becoming a “cycling enthusiast.” You don’t even have to consider yourself a cyclist to hop on a bike and get to a nearby destination. Biking is simply “assisted walking” – it takes the exact same effort as walking and propels you 3 or 4x faster. So even if you’re thinking, “I’m not a cyclist,” we’d encourage you to try biking to a nearby destination sometime. If you want to get more comfortable on your bike, let us know.

So where can you get on a bike in Rochester within 20 minutes?

VIRTUALLY ANYWHERE!

Presenting the first in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this first map, we chose an arbitrary centralized point in downtown Rochester – Parcel 5 – 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 downtown within 20ish minutes on a bike. In the months to come, we’ll unveil similar maps for surrounding municipalities and popular destinations. Big shout out and thank you to Brendan Ryan and Mike Governale for their help putting these maps together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory surrounding downtown, here’s our Cycling Coordinator, Jesse Peers, sharing his personal travel-by-bike experiences:

When my family and I moved to North Winton Village in 2007, we were 100% car-dependent for every trip, the default lifestyle most Americans are handed. We didn’t discover until later that we had landed in one of Rochester’s sweet spots for car-free or car-lite living: The 42 & 38 RTS routes could get us downtown in a few minutes, and as I eventually learned, the following destinations are within a 15 or 20 minute bike ride from our house:

Ellison Park, Donuts Delite, Culver Ridge Plaza, the Public Market, Wegmans, Downtown, Frontier Field, Cobbs Hill, 12 Corners, RMSC/GEM/MAG/Strong Museum, Highland Park & the Little Theatre. RGH too, which isn’t a leisure time destination. But it is a big hub of employment.

North Winton Village, we love you!

After I took a bike class at the Rochester Brainery and wanted to start biking-as-transportation, I started with my workplace, which was (fortunately!) 1.5 miles away – an easy ride which takes less than 10 minutes. When that trip got to be routine and comfortable, I gave biking to church a shot – 3 miles away (20 minutes). Once that was no problem, I started biking to the RCA’s monthly meeting, which at the time was 5.5 miles away. Once I got comfortable with and physically capable of biking 5 or 6 miles, the world opened up. As the RCA’s Susan Levin said on a recent Connections show, “Biking is freedom. Everything else is a bonus.”

One of the greatest things my family and I have discovered when traversing Rochester by bike, is oftentimes you don’t have to stick to primary arterials, which can be uncomfortable by bike. Getting to destinations via less busy, residential side streets is quite possible, and that’s a big impetus behind the City’s Bike Boulevards program, which will be substantially enhanced this year.

Take my three-mile bike ride to our church for instance. Because I’ve learned to bike confidently over many years and the trip has become routine, I frequently take the most direct way: Culver Road, the bike boulevard on Canterbury Road & Field Street.

But if I have our kids with me, or the weather is cruddy, or I just want to avoid Culver Road, I can ride through Beechwood, EMMA, the George Eastman Museum, and the Park Avenue neighborhood instead. Virtually the same mileage and we avoid major, high-traffic streets (with the exception of Monroe Ave – but for only one block).

Another example: getting to a Red Wings game, one of my family’s favorite activities. When you bike to Frontier Field, you get the best parking: right next to the gates! When the game ends, you’re most of the way home before most fans are out of the adjacent parking lots. The simplest way to get to Frontier Field for us would be to bike down Main Street all the way to Plymouth. 

That route is 3.4 miles. Believe it or not, my kids have biked this with me and it took 24 minutes to get to the ballpark. Not bad, especially when there’s no hassle searching for a parking spot and we don’t have to walk from the “car park” to the ballpark.

But if we take the upcoming Garson Bike Boulevard route, which is lower-stress and much more fun, it is still 3.4 miles! Granted it’s a more squiggly way of getting there, but we get to experience the Public Market, High Falls & the Pont de Rennes bridge on the way there – and all the streets are comfortable.

Other thoughts and tips about navigating ROC by bike:

Cities can get a bad rap for biking but they’re often safer than biking in many suburbs and rural areas. There are many reasons for this: In Rochester and other cities, speeds are lower, traffic lights are more frequent, and buildings are closer to the street. All these tend to result in calmer traffic conditions. Plus, bike lanes are becoming pretty standard in the City of Rochester.

Across the U.S., there is much room for improvement in terms of achieving a culture of respect on our shared roads. But as local cyclist Dan Kamalic pointed out in a recent blog, Rochester drivers are nice and respectful overall, especially when compared to other cities. That doesn’t mean on rare occasions you won’t get honked at or receive some verbal abuse. But as we say in our bike classes, “If they yell at you, they see you. The danger is in not being seen.” Stick to these best practices while riding and if you want to gain confidence, take one of our classes sometime.

When we’re talking distances of less than three miles, biking is pretty much the same amount of time as driving. Sometimes it’s even faster. The best part about biking to downtown destinations is that there’s an abundance of bike racks right next to many popular destinations. You don’t need to worry about the hassle and the cost of parking garages. Parking is free. Just be sure to bring a good bike lock.

Try biking downtown for these fun activities: riverside picnics, the Central Library, Movies with a Downtown View, 4th of July fireworks (we’ll never make the mistake again of waiting an hour in a parking garage to move after the fireworks have ended!), Fringe Fest, The Strong Museum of Play, Knighthawks or Amerks games at Blue Cross Arena, Dinosaur Barbeque, and a movie at The Little.

Join us next month for a look at biking in Irondequoit!