On the radio: Bike plans in Rochester and at U of R

Good conversations about bike infrastructure, involving RCA members, have been on the radio twice this month.

First, Evan Dawson recently led a discussion of the Bicycle Master Plan of the City of Rochester on his show Connections on WXXI. RCA’s own Scott MacRae, Karen Lankeshofer, John Lam, and Theresa Bowick were all part of the conversation. You can listen here.

Second, Dan Lill recently led a discussion of bike infrastructure at the University of Rochester on his show Spokes and Folks on WAYO. Featured guests included Bruce Bashwiner, Associate Vice President of University Facilities and Services; Hugh Kierig, Director of Parking and Transportation; and RCA’s own Glenn Cerosaletti. Dan himself also sits on the RCA board and does great work with R Community Bikes. You can listen here.

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Bike to School Day 2016 in ROC

Bike to School Day riders at Crane Elementary

Bike to School Day riders at Crane Elementary


In third grade, I started biking to school. I usually rode with my brother, up the hill that seemed so big at the time, winding through the neighborhood, crossing one busy street — with a crossing guard, of course. Along the way we passed other kids’ houses, and in time, many of those other kids became our football teammates and Boy Scout buddies and best friends. There was a bike lane, and a sidewalk paved between two houses, so that it felt like a secret passage when it led us across a small bridge and into the back of the schoolyard. We cyclists were not oddballs our outliers: the school had a long row of bike racks, and some days it was hard to find a spot. There must have been 50 or 100 students biking to that small elementary school everyday.

Thirty years later, I bike to work everyday. And I have biked or walked on my daily commute in nearly all of the intervening years. I still love it, still feel better at the end of my commute than at the beginning. I can still stop by the drugstore or the market along the way, I still bump into friends along the way, and I still build an intimate familiarity with my neighborhood and community by pedaling through it.

But I am a bit of an outlier as the guy who bikes to work everyday. And apparently times have changed for school kids, too, because my daughters’ school has only a couple of bikes on the rack. (My kids walk instead of biking, because we live across the street.) Why don’t kids bike to school as much as they did a generation ago? Crime rates have plummeted, and medical evidence of the fundamental importance of exercise in a healthy lifestyle has mounted. Witness the obesity epidemic.

Fortunately, some good folks around Rochester are working to get kids biking to school again. At least four local elementary schools participated in the national Bike to School Day event on 4 May: French Road Elementary School, Council Rock Primary School, Crane Elementary, and Francis Parker School No. 23. Indian Landing Elementary School will ride on 13 May. Each of the events got dozens of students and parents out for a ride on a sunny May morning, as you can see in the photos below. To allow students who live far from school to participate, most of the events included a group ride from a nearby community center. One ride went from the Rochester Museum and Science Center to School 23; another went from Midtown Athletic Club to Council Rock. Students and parents were welcomed to school with snacks, coffee, and a celebration of bike-enabled community.

Our deep gratitude goes out to all who supported Bike to School Day 2016. Each event was organized by teachers and/or parents, and supported by school administrators. The HealthiKids initiative funded snacks and racks. Schwinn provided ten bikes and helmets, which Council Rock won in a nationwide drawing — woohoo! The Rochester Police Department and Brighton Police Department provided escorts to ensure a safe ride. The Monroe County Office of Traffic Safety provided helmets and taught bike safety. The Injury Free Coalition for Kids provided helmets and information. The RMSC and Midtown Athletic Club generously shared their parking lots. PTOs and PTAs provided funding and moral support. Thanks to all who made Bike to School Day possible!

Update: Indian Landing had a great ride on 13 May! Thanks go to Dr. Thomas Putnam, Penfield CSD Superintendent; Mrs. Bavis, Principal of Indian Landing; Monica Wallen and Linda Guiberson of the PTO, and Jeff Hopper. We’ve added photos below.

Want to organize Bike to School Day at your own school? Great! The national program provides lots of free materials for getting organized and for promoting the event. And those of us who have run events at other schools around Rochester would be happy to consult, too — send us an email. How about an ROC-wide Bike to School Day in 2017?! If you’re interested, contact us.

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Western New York Bike Festival

The Western New York Bike Festival will take place 4 & 5 June at Dryer Road Park in Victor. At least 10 regional bike organizations — including RCA — will be there, as well as bike shops from the region, with bikes for test rides. The event is for “celebrating, uniting, and growing the cycling community”, and you can learn more on the event website.

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Canalway Trail Detour at West Henrietta Road

Planning to ride the Canalway Trail? Bridge construction will block the trail at West Henrietta Road for most of 2016, so detour routes are in effect. Heading east, you’ll leave the canal at West Henrietta and ride Westfall Road, returning to the canal just before I-390. Heading west, you’ll leave the canal just past I-390 and ride Westfall Road, returning at Kendrick Road. Here’s a map. Don’t forget to leave a few extra minutes for your ride!

Posted in trails, Uncategorized

Rochester’s First Bike Boulevard

This fall the City of Rochester established the first of its planned bike boulevards, routes along city streets that connect cyclists to destinations in many neighborhoods while avoiding busy intersections and heavy automobile traffic. This boulevard starts at Monroe Ave. & Canterbury Rd., heading east on Canterbury and Harvard St. It crosses the throughway via the pedestrian bridge at School 1, then follows Hillside Ave. across Winton Rd. and south to Highland Ave. Traffic signals at Culver Rd. and Monroe Ave. have been upgraded to sense bikes. Check it out for yourself! A few photos are below.

speed hump

ABC sharrows

decision point

throughwayBridge

signage

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Featured Cyclist: Robert Howland (and Eleanor)

Robert Howland & Eleanor

Today we begin a series of posts featuring cyclists around Rochester, highlighting common interests and needs as well as the great diversity of ways cycling is a part of our community.

What are you riding?
It’s a Trek Soho-S single speed from R-Community bikes.

What’s a typical ride like for you?
I bike with my dog Eleanor Roosevelt, for exercise. We usually go about 5 miles around Goodman, Park Ave, and South Ave. I really like the High Falls area.

Why do you cycle?
Well, I started because my roommate rode all the time. He took me to R-Community bikes, and then I got my bike and started commuting to work. So it’s for exercise, for me, for my dog, for commuting. I like it. And she’s real good at it.

Anything we should know about the state of bike lanes, roads, or trails?
Yeah, I had an accident. I was right there waiting to turn left on Caroline and South Ave. I had blinking LEDs and everything, but the car just hit me, no brakes. I fell right back and hit my head. The windshield of the car was smashed, and the hood. But no broken bones, just road rash. And Eleanor was shook up but OK. No matter how safe you are or how many precautions you take there are still idiots on the road.

How do you envision the future of cycling in Rochester?
I love bicycling and I love Rochester. I see it getting a lot bigger. I just see it growing. Everyone enjoys it. Once you start doing it you realize it’s a valid form of transportation, and cheap, and fun. I like the river trail, along the Erie Canal, and the lanes going through the city. But I always wish there were more, and I don’t always feel safe in them. I’d feel a lot safer if there were concrete barriers for bike lanes.

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Monroe County Millennials and alternative transportation

In a recent survey by Monroe County, young adults around Rochester listed bike lanes and walkable communities among the factors keeping them in the area. Moving forward, they asked for more bike lanes and a bike share program, pointing to easier non-automotive transit as a key enabler for living downtown. Those opinions are consistent with the findings of cities across the nation: bike infrastructure brings young professionals and jobs that can revitalize urban cores.

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Infrastructure in Rochester: Bike boxes

Whatever is happening in Montreal, Rochester has great (and growing) bike infrastructure, too. Here Erik Frisch, a city Transportation Specialist and guru of alternative transportation, describes bike boxes, which allow for safer left turns at busy intersections around town.

Posted in alternative transportation, bike Rochester, safety

Montreal’s world-class bike infrastructure

bikes at St. Joseph's

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

Just back from a vacation in Montreal, I’ll volunteer a report about the infrastructure of that admirably bike-friendly city. Montreal is easier to traverse by bike than any city I have ever visited, and appears to have more cyclists on its roads as well. Spending four days there, my wife and I saw nearly all the major sites, visiting every neighborhood in our guidebook — and more. We never used a car, or even the Metro, but logged 110 miles on our bikes. Montreal’s bike infrastructure works for a number of inter-dependent reasons.

First, Montreal has a critical mass of bike lanes and cycle paths — you can ride almost anywhere. On an island city, nearly every bridge has a cycle track, or is used solely for bikes and pedestrians. In a bustling metropolitan center, where construction is necessary, bike routes take detours instead of being blocked. Recreational routes through parks and along canals connect to commuter routes so well that the distinction becomes artificial. City festivals have large valet parking facilities for bikes.

Second, Montreal’s bike infrastructure is well-engineered and clearly marked. Bikes are kept separate from pedestrians, and often separate from cars as well. Major bike routes have cycle paths with a curb between bikes and cars; minor routes have painted bike lanes. Following the paths and lanes is straightforward because every intersection has a sign pointing the way to continuing and connecting bike routes. Many intersections have dedicated traffic lights for bikes. Detours for construction are marked well. The long downhill on Jacques-Cartier bridge has barriers that force descending cyclists to swerve — and therefore slow to a safe speed.

Complicated intersections show evidence of particularly careful thought. Where rue Rachel crosses rue Berri, the cycle track on the west side of rue Rachel turns, continuing on the south side of rue Berri, so cyclists face the difficult maneuver of crossing every lane of auto traffic. To help, bike-specific stoplights usher them across one street, then the other. A large paved area is blocked off at the corner in between, giving cyclists a safe place to wait for the light.

Finally, the cycling experience is so much safer and more pleasant on cycle paths and bike lanes that cycling two or three blocks out of your way is worth the trouble. This further separates bikes from cars, and makes transit safer for everybody: major car thoroughfares are not major bike thoroughfares, but both sets of city arteries are extensive enough and close enough to go where people need. Optimizing every road for both cars and bikes is by definition impossible; by splitting the roads, traffic engineers can optimize for cars where necessary, and bikes everywhere else.

After all this praise for Montreal’s bike infrastructure, I have some questions, too, which I’ll address in my next an upcoming post.

Posted in alternative transportation, bicycle boulevards, transportation

City of Rochester Neighborhood Petition for Speed Limit Reduction

Added to our Cycling Resources page is a PDF containing the City of Rochester Neighborhood Petition for Speed Limit Reduction.

Download Form – Send completed form to Erik Frisch frische@cityofrochester.gov or mail to:  Erik Frisch, Dept. of Environment Services, City of Rochester, 30 Church Street, Rochester NY, 14614

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