Our recommendations for ROC the Riverway

A city & state initiative to improve Rochester’s riverfront, focusing on design that is oriented to pedestrians, bicyclists, boaters, and recreational enthusiasts.

The ROC the Riverway Program, jointly supported by the City of Rochester and the State of New York, will soon bring major changes to Rochester’s riverfront. The Rochester Cycling Alliance is cheering loud for our community leaders, who made the right choice when they wrote the Project’s first design principle: “Focus on design that is oriented to pedestrians, bicyclists, boaters, and recreational enthusiasts”.

That said, the details of the Project haven’t been decided yet, and for cyclists and pedestrians, some of the draft ideas are better than others. We at the RCA urge community members to give feedback as planning continues. Here are some important points to think about:

  • The cycling community should oppose the Aqueduct Reimagined (“AR”) project, for the following reasons:
    1. The new protected bike lanes across Broad Street would be destroyed. The plan calls for no bike lanes on the pedestrian plaza that would replace it, and the current design has no bike or ADA accessible access to the east part of Broad Street. The City has consistently opposed protected bike lanes on Main, and no plans for protected bike lanes are active for Court Street, therefore our only safe east-west corridor is demolished.
    2. Current AR plans call for north-south pedestrian/cycling paths along the river, but there is no method for north-south bike traffic to avoid massive conflicts with east-west pedestrian flow in the plans.
    3. The AR project takes up a majority of the State money allocated for all the projects ($35M out of $50M), starving other projects that better promote cycling transportation and urban living.
  • The following are projects we feel should be considered top priorities based on both their importance to cycling as transportation, and to increase the number of downtown residents who would likely use active transportation. We recommend advocating for them to be included in “Phase 1” of the project:
    1. Recharging the Trail ($5M): The current River Trail is in appalling shape as regards to pavement quality, and badly needs repair. In addition, it is too narrow to adequately serve both pedestrians and cyclists (especially pedestrians with dogs on leashes). Improved River Trails will bring additional people downtown from the southern neighborhoods and U of R without adding to parking and traffic problems.
    2. Riverside Development and Arena on the River (~$8M): This is great location for mixed use commercial/residential development, with nice views of the cataracts and easy access to events at the arena. Residents of this development would be very likely to use active transportation, and the entrance to the River Trail here would be improved.
    3. Riverfront Reborn ($10M): (same as above, but with easy access to High Falls area as well)
    4. Welcome Connection ($40M): A better connection to the High Falls and MCC area from Downtown through State Street, which is currently very repellent to both pedestrians and cyclists.
    5. Preserving Pont de Rennes ($9M): Preserves an essential connection between east and west sides and the entertainment/pedestrian flow between MCC, High Falls and the Genesee Brewery.
    6. Running Track Bridge ($5M): Completes the El Camino Trail and allows residents from the northeast neighborhoods easy and safe access to the High Falls area. (Note: While this project would allow access from northeast neighborhoods, and the existing River Trails give access from the southern neighborhoods, there are currently no proposed projects that provide safe access from the northwest neighborhoods. There is an equity issue here.)
  • In addition, we believe that the Mill Street Connection and Bridge the Loop projects, which together total $19M, should be replaced by a project to infill the northern part of the Inner Loop, which has long been planned anyways, would cost the same or less money, would provide better connections between High Falls and Downtown, with has the added advantage of creating additional taxable land.
  • Please send your feedback right here.

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