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Floshare: “EVening” the Playing Field

Guest blog by Bree-Ana Dukes, Floshare Program Manager at Mobility Development Operations & Board Member at Reconnect Rochester

According to the 2018 Transportation and Poverty in Monroe County commissioned by Reconnect Rochester, “most households (88%) in Monroe County have access to a vehicle (74% in Rochester). This leaves 12% of households in the county (35,000 households), and 26% of households in the city (22,000 households) without access to a vehicle,” about a third of all city of Rochester households.

Flower City Carshare (Floshare) is a partnership between Mobility Development Operations (MDO) and the City of Rochester and is the first electric vehicle (EV) car sharing program in New York. The carsharing program targets chronically economically distressed areas and neighborhoods where there are low rates of car ownership.

Happy Floshare Customers

“We had a BLAST with the car. My son told everyone everywhere we went that the car we were driving was ‘TOTALLY ELECTRIC MAN.’ Thanks again for helping me get this started, I cannot wait to rent it again.” (Rachael Boelens)

The lack of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) in many of Rochester’s neighborhoods echoes the historical disenfranchisement of marginalized communities and the disparities that have resulted from centuries of disinvestment. Carsharing services alone cannot solve the systemic issues around transportation for the poorest segments of the City’s population, but community-controlled EV carsharing will add a new mobility option to the transportation landscape for those without access to a personal vehicle. Through intentional collaboration with community based organizations, the transportation sector, and social service agencies addressing these EVSE gaps, Floshare hopes to better connect residents to the city and surrounding areas.

Carsharing means community residents have access to a network of electric vehicles located in close proximity to them everyday of the year at any time of the day. This certainly won’t solve our transportation issues, but while funding is on the table we have to consider the lack of car ownership and how marginalized communities are able to benefit from the EV movement from an economic, social, and public health perspective. Much can be debated about the state of transportation within Monroe County, but the fact is that accessibility is not equal for those historically disenfranchised, specifically, for Black and Indigenous people of color.

Targeting EV Investment to the Disenfranchised

Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations are a huge topic of national conversation following the Biden-Harris Administration’s release of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program Guidance. States will be responsible for allocating $5 billion toward electric vehicle charging infrastructure with the goal to “put the United States on a path to a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030 and ensure a convenient, reliable, affordable, and equitable charging experience for all users.”

The Administration’s Justice 40 initiative commits to allocate at least 40% of all funding and investments to “disadvantaged communities”. This is an important distinction because history has shown that without intentional investment in marginalized communities, subpar or disinvestment will continue to widen the racial inequality gap. Some opponents to this commitment will cite the lack of EV ownership as a reason to not invest in marginalized communities, but that is precisely why it is important to do so. Arguments about whether certain communities deserve targeted investments are tired! It is this type of rhetoric that continually blocks BIPOC from opportunities to benefit from social and economic development and revitalization.

A conversation that would be more productive is one that acknowledges the root causes of “carless” homes as well as the inability to afford an EV as outcomes of systemic racism. Centuries of genocide, slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow, redlining, and a host of other discrimanatory acts continue to plague our organizations and institutions of governance. So, we must never forget what’s ever present in the zeitgeist that makes commitments like Justice 40 necessary.

Sign Up for Floshare’s Expanding System in ROC

The Floshare program provides access to fully electric vehicles and charging infrastructure for a low cost rate of $5/hour or $40/day. The program has been beta testing since September 2021, with locations at the Rochester Public Market and St. Mary’s Campus and more locations coming soon! About two dozen residents have gone through orientation to test the vehicles and its technology, in preparation for a launch event this summer. Anyone who is interested is encouraged to sign up by downloading the Miocar Networks app.

Charging Floshare Vehicle
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Welcoming New Energy on our Staff & Board

Reconnect Rochester kicked off the new year by ushering in new leadership and energy onto our staff team and Board of Directors.

James Dietz joined our dynamic and growing staff team that works day-in and day-out to improve mobility in our community. He’ll be spearheading our advocacy activities, expanding our community outreach, and running the Complete Streets Makeover and Rochester Street Films programs. Find out how James landed here and what inspires him in the message below.

At our Annual Meeting in January, Victor Sanchez was elected our new Board President, taking over from Renée Stetzer who will stay on as an active Board member. We also welcomed three new Board membersBree-Ana Dukes, Bo Shoemaker and Erick Stephens. Get to know them and what they bring to the table in the profiles below.

Welcome James, Bree-Ana, Bo & Erick! We consider ourselves very lucky to have this kind of talent join our work to champion transportation choices in Monroe County.


JAMES DIETZ

I’m so excited to be Reconnect Rochester’s new Advocacy and Outreach Manager! Originally from Buffalo, I moved to Rochester in 2015 to attend the U of R, where I obtained my BA in Political Science. It was during my time in undergrad that I moved off of campus and began to call Rochester my home. I sought out opportunities to work with community organizations, which led me to become an AmeriCorps VISTA shortly after graduating. I spent a very rewarding year working on housing and economic justice with City Roots Community Land Trust, and urban agriculture with Taproot Collective.

Not having a car of my own, I quickly learned to navigate taking the bus and riding my bike to get around. It made me realize not only how important a good, robust public transportation system is, but also how much better Rochester’s transportation infrastructure could be, especially for those whose car-free lifestyle isn’t a choice but rather a necessity. I remember the first time I found myself in the old abandoned subway tunnels thinking to myself, “Why would they ever get rid of this?” My hope is that the work I do with Reconnect Rochester will bring us closer to a vision of Rochester that is more equitable, healthy, and sustainable for everyone.


BREE-ANA DUKES

Bree-Ana is a Rochester native and serves as the Program Coordinator for Rochester’s electric carshare program, Floshare. Bree-Ana holds a Bachelor degree in Social Science Interdisciplinary and a Masters degree in Higher Education Administration. She brings passion and experience in advocating for a good quality of life and the welfare of societies through accessibility to healthy food, transportation, education, medical care, and housing. In her role at Floshare, Bree-Ana coordinates the operations and member services of Rochester’s first 100% electric vehicle carsharing service. Bree-Ana is honored to be serving on the board of Reconnect Rochester and most looking forward to have the opportunity to further serve and engage the multi-modal transportation interests of Rochester residents.

BO SHOEMAKER

Bo is an avid trail runner, road runner, history run leader, cyclist, and triathlete. After completing law school at Syracuse University College of Law, he has worked as an attorney for Monroe County, the regional appellate court in Rochester, New York City, and now, Genesee County. Bo lives in the North Winton Village neighborhood of Rochester. He is currently leading a segment-by-segment running exploration of The Crescent Trail, is well into planning for his next run through Rochester History Runs, and after several Covid-related delays, plans on running the New York City Marathon this coming November!

ERICK STEPHENS

Erick is the Parent Engagement Specialist for Healthi Kids at Common Ground Health. In this role, Stephens provides technical assistance and support to schools to strengthen and improve parent engagement efforts. He also works directly with parents training them on advocacy and connecting them to opportunities to impact policy, systems, and environmental change in schools. Erick served as a Youth Service Assistant at the Phillis Wheatley Branch Library in Rochester’s Southwest and was the Parent Liaison at James P.B. Duffy School #12, where he now volunteers and runs a program to help develop leaders at the school through mentoring.

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Top ten things we’re most proud of in 2021.

2021 is coming to a close. In the realm of transportation, this year brought a mix of positive progress and setbacks. At Reconnect Rochester, we strive to be innovative and to pivot fast when we see input opportunities to capitalize on, or mobility issues that need attention.

Despite the uncertainty and challenges of our times, we moved our mission forward with intensity. Below is “Top 10” list of accomplishments we’re most proud of this year.


TOP 10 THINGS WE’RE MOST PROUD OF IN 2021
(In no particular order of importance.)

#10

Legislative Advocacy

In March, we made a virtual trip to Albany to champion public transit and safe streets for Rochester area residents (and all New Yorkers). In April & May, we made the rounds to meet with our federal legislators. Among other things, we asked for Phase 2 funding to build the station that long-distance bus riders deserve. Here’s our team meeting with staff from Senator Gillibrand’s office.

#9

More Cubes on the Ground

Thanks to the City of Rochester and many other people and partners (you know who you are), we installed 16 more fiberglass bus stop cubes in the 19th Ward & La Marketa neighborhoods. That brings the total to 31 bus stops where RTS riders now have a respectable place to sit while they wait. Here’s a birds eye view from the balcony of Teen Empowerment on Genesee Street.

#8

Weighing In on Projects & Plans

Through our Advocacy Committee, we submitted written input, attended public meetings and served on advisory committees on countless infrastructure projects and community plans. We urge planners and decision makers to create a connected community with streets and spaces designed for people. This kind of hyper-active advocacy work results in big wins, like the cycle track you see emerging here on E. Main Street, a project we weighed in on in 2019.

#7

Supporting Public Transit

We continued to play an active role in what’s happening with public transit in our community. We partner with RTS to advocate for increased funding that will allow them to make service improvements and expand bus stop amenities. We support mechanisms that will give riders visibility and voice around decision making tables. When there was an unexpected rollback in service in September, we made a strong statement and tried to keep the community informed.

#6

Spotlight on Pedestrian Safety

At our November edition of Rochester Street Films, we brought together our safe streets community partners, victims of road violence, community leaders and concerned citizens to have a community conversation about the silent epidemic of pedestrian injuries and fatalities on our streets. In case you missed it, watch the recording to catch up on the conversation!

#5

Informing the Electorate

Leading up to election days in June & November, we surveyed all candidates for Rochester Mayor and City Council to learn where they stand on issues related to transportation and mobility. Questions were designed to learn about their opinions, ideas and vision for a well-connected and accessible community.

#4

Making Monroe County Bike Friendlier

We continued to exponentially expand cycling-focused programs, advocacy, education and outreach. In fact, there are so many accomplishments that we had to create a CYCLING TOP 10 LIST. These efforts are led by Cycling Manager Jesse Peers with support from countless passionate people and partners working to make our community a safer and more bike friendly place.

#3

Supporting New Mobility Options

We helped educate the community and promote HOPR’s first season in our area, and we celebrated the installation of 8 new HOPR stations to expand bike & e-scooter access in Rochester’s underserved neighborhoods. We also spread the word about the launch of Floshare, an electric carshare pilot that offers an option for low income residents that can’t afford to own a personal vehicle.

#2

Blog Content That Inspires

We amped up content on our blog and enlisted guest blog writers to help us provoke thought and community engagement about things like transportation climate solutions, urban density, and designing streets for people. We’re especially proud of our 20 Minutes by Bike blog series.

#1

Strengthening Our Organization

Reconnect Rochester took some big leaps forward in 2021. We completed a 3-year strategic plan that charts our path ahead, announced a transformative investment by Dr. Scott MacRae (pictured above) that will enable us to expand our staff capacity, and appointed Mary Staropoli as Interim Executive Director to lead us through this period of growth and transition. In case you missed it, you can catch up on all the excitement here.

Just imagine what we can do in 2022!