Complete Streets Makeover: Making Rochester streets safer for all

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

At Reconnect Rochester, we believe providing safe streets for people to walk and bike is a matter of social justice, especially for those in our community who are most vulnerable — young children, the elderly, the transit dependent, and those who cannot afford to own a car. Through this program, we and our team of partners are taking social action around this issue in a creative way that produces tangible results and builds community in the process.

The Selection Process

Each year, we begin our Complete Streets Makeover program by putting out a public call for submissions.  We ask Monroe County residents to help identify the intersections and corridors they find to be the least friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists. No one understands what it’s like to use our streets better than the people who walk, bike and roll along them every day.

From the public nominations received, a Program Steering Committee made up of City and County officials, transportation professionals and community advocates, selects a winning location to receive the “Complete Streets Makeover” treatment. Selection factors include crash safety data, proximity to kids, and the potential and feasibility of design improvements. In other words, we select the most dangerous street with the greatest potential for change.

Transforming the Street

We begin the makeover treatment with a community workshop, facilitated by the Community Design Center, that engages neighbors and other stakeholders. We listen to their experiences and ideas, and together we re-imagine a vibrant space that’s designed for people. Using the input from this workshop, the Stantec design team creates an illustration of temporary improvements that could be made.

The next step is for the community to bring this design to life. Neighbors come together for an on-street event that transforms the intersection. We utilize equipment from HealthiKids’ “traffic calming library”, street painting, and other creative “placemaking” elements. There is community building, food, music and joy. (Watch the short films below to experience the magic of the day!)

Proving Results

The temporary on-street experiment is intended to implement some elements of design improvement, enough for the neighborhood to show reduced speeds. With the help of Genesee Transportation Council, we collect speed data before the on-street installation, and then again post-installation. The neighborhood uses this powerful evidence to advocate for making permanent street design changes.

In the case of our 2018 project at the intersection of Parsells Ave. & Greeley St., it took some time, but in November 2020, the City of Rochester installed permanent raised crosswalks at two locations on Parsells Avenue (one at the intersection, and one a few blocks further down the road). The neighborhood succeeded in coming together to disrupt this car-dominated speedway, and take it back as a safe and welcoming space for everyone.

For every CSM project, Reconnect Rochester and our partners continue, for as long as it takes, to support the neighborhood’s advocacy efforts to make permanent street design improvements.

Experience the Magic

Nothing captures the life of a project better than film. For each of our projects, Reconnect Rochester, in partnership with Floating Home Films, produces a short film that tells the story. Watch and be inspired!

Program Partners

Community Design Center of Rochester - CDCR

Announcing the Winner and Finalists of the 2019 Complete Streets Makeover

(Drumroll please…)

Announcing the Winner and Finalists of the 2019 Complete Streets Makeover

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

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

Click here to view in Google Maps

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


So What’s the Good Word?

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

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

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

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

What Happens Now?

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

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

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

What About the Finalists?

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

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

1 Comment

New Citywide 25MPH Speed Limit in NYC

New Citywide 25MPH Speed Limit in NYC. [PHOTO: Vision Zero,]
Posted by: Renee Stetzer, pedestrian safety advocate and blogger at

New York City’s new lower citywide speed limit goes into effect today. In June the NY State legislature passed a bill that allowed NYC to lower its default speed limit to 25mph external link. Part of the city’s Vision Zero plan external link to eliminate traffic fatalities, the new lower default speed limit was approved by the City Council in October and signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio last week. And the new 25mph signs are going up today…

Read more