Hudson Ave. bike share station is fully funded

In spring 2017, Rochester will get a bike share program, run by Zagster. Our friends at Reconnect Rochester wanted to make bike share broadly accessible to city residents, and in particular saw need for a bike share station on Hudson Ave. in the Upper Falls neighborhood, where no station had otherwise been planned. But there’s a cost: $9000 for the additional station.

That brings us to the good news. The Crowdrise campaign to raise the money was wildly successful, and the Hudson Ave. station is now fully funded. More than 140 people donated (read the full list), more than $1000 came from RCA members (woohoo!), and R Community Bikes gave matching donations. Not only will the Hudson Ave. station go forward, but because of the campaign, there will be 10 shared bikes at the Public Market, and another station on Adams Street in Corn Hill–special thanks for that one go to Laura Beth and Matthew Denker. Congratulations go to everybody who together made these good things happen!

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Main Street bike lane: Progress update

The City of Rochester will soon make substantial updates to Main Street, and RCA is among a coalition of citizens advocating for dedicated bike lanes on our new-and-improved Main Street. Read more about the project in the January RCA meeting minutes, available here.

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Notes from MassBike Advocacy Boot Camp

by Jesse Peers

Let me get this out of the way: I’m a relatively recent bicycle convert.

I grew up in a cul-de-sac neighborhood way out in the ‘burbs and had nowhere to cycle to as a kid. Seventeen years later living in the City, upon hearing me say it might be nice to have a bike again for some short trips, my uncle gave me a cheap mountain bike he wasn’t using (thanks Gary!). It wasn’t until I caught the excitement surrounding ROC Transit Day and took an urban cycling class at the Rochester Brainery (thanks Tracey!) that I got the confidence I needed to take to the streets and commute to work on a regular basis. When my car died in 2013, it didn’t matter as I had learned to live without one (why had I driven the mile and a half to work every day anyway? Besides, going from two cars to one did wonders for our finances). In 2014 I bought a decent commuting bike and cycling really became a part of my lifestyle. In 2015 I discovered the joy of group rides and started connecting with other cyclists, which led me to getting involved with the Rochester Cycling Alliance this year.

I’ve come to look forward to the third Thursday every month when we get together to talk cycling and brainstorm ways to foster the pedaling revolution in Rochester. I’ve learned a lot from seasoned cyclists and have gotten to meet fiery visiting speakers like Richard Fries. When Fries announced on Twitter in November that MassBike was putting together a Bicycle Advocacy Boot Camp in Boston this month, I knew I wanted to go. So I booked a Greyhound bus and showed up ready to learn December 17th.

The Boot Camp was a wonderful learning experience and each of the speakers had something to offer. When MassBike gets around to having Boot Camp 2.0 (possibly next year), I’d encourage anyone interested in cycling to make the trip. Here are some brief takeaways (some of which we’ll discuss in January’s meeting):

  • Rochester has a substantial biking community but the community is disparate. We’ve got a plethora of organizations and initiatives and we need to work closer together, know what each other is doing and present a united front to City officials. I can see why newcomers to the area or new cyclists are overwhelmed: We’ve got the Rochester Cycling Alliance, R Community Bikes, Reconnect Rochester, Rochester Bicycling Club, Conkey Cruisers, Unity Ride, Spokes & Folks, Spokes & Ink Festival, Kidical Mass Pittsford, Bike-In-Movies at the Market, Bicycle Film Fest, Rochester Bike Kids, City-sponsored Tuesday rides in the summer, not to mention the wonderful bike shops scattered throughout the area. (And that’s just the road bikers. Mountain bikers have their own niche).
  • Rochester’s comparably small size is an asset. Whereas it became apparent cyclists from the Brookline, Waltham, Somerville, Weymouth, Newton, Medford, and Mattapan areas around Boston all dealt with very different issues and had considerable and disconnected distance between them, Rochester’s a City where virtually everything is within five miles (a half-hour). If we work together, we can create the City we want and make cycling a normal, economically-freeing, viable, safe form of transportation for everybody.
  • For decades, bicycle advocacy has been geared toward older white males. This needs to change. The RCA needs people of color, women and young people to give us the inertia and representation we need. We all cycle for different reasons and we need to learn from your experiences.
  • As I have gotten involved with the RCA, I saw our mission as twofold: 1) Advocacy and 2) Fostering a cycling culture. MassBike’s boot camp woke me up to a 3rd role: Education. Politicians, citizens, drivers, cyclists – all have something to learn. (I also began to wonder what it would take to get local elementary schools to teach cycling skills and safety).
  • The overwhelming majority of boot camp attendees (it was Boston after all) were still reeling from the November election. One of the big questions for those passionate about cycling, new urbanism, safer streets, public transit and sustainability was what we can expect now at the Federal level. Though we’re certain to have our work cut out for us, we took heart that most decisions about transit, parking, development, zoning and infrastructure are made at the local level. Make your voice heard.
  • As Richard Fries told us, “Nothing in government moves without being pushed.” We need to be tactful and polite but ultimately relentless.

So this blog entry is an open invitation to get involved. Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming meetings and events and please come to our monthly meetings. You’ve got a place at the table.

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RCA 2016 Accomplishments

The coming of a new year gives good opportunity for reflection, and we’re proud to say that the Rochester Cycling Alliance accomplished quite a lot in 2016 to promote biking and bike infrastructure in the Rochester area. A list is below (and in PDF format here). In 2017 we plan to do even more, and we hope you’ll be involved!

Bicycle Friendly City Bronze Award, League of American Bicyclists

RCA assisted Department of Environmental Services, City of Rochester, with the preparation of the application for this prestigious award.

Town & Village Bicycle-Pedestrian Plans

Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Irondequoit, and Greece Town Councils/Town Planning Boards consulted with RCA members to develop bicycle and pedestrian plans to improve residents’ quality of life.

Monroe County Initiatives

Discussion with County Executive Dinolfo with the object of educating her on the importance of bicycle-pedestrian facilities in attracting and retaining skilled workers and businesses; promoting improved bicycle route connectivity; and realigning the County’s bicycle and pedestrian policies to improve residents’ quality of life.

Bike to School Day

RCA members organized Bike to School Days at elementary schools in Rochester, Pennfield, Brighton, Henrietta, and Pittsford school districts to encourage students, faculty/staff, and parents to build community and reduce childhood obesity by engaging in everyday healthy activities including bicycling to school. Our work was covered on the Spokes & Folks radio show.

Bicycle Boulevards

Unique safer bicycle friendly routes on urban and suburban streets:

  • Harvard/Canterbury Streets: RCA worked with the Rochester DES to create the first bicycle boulevard in the City.
  • Hillside/Highland Avenues, RCA worked with the Town of Brighton’s to create the first bicycle boulevard connecting with a City of Rochester bicycle boulevard.

Cyclopaths/Protected Bicycle Lanes

Raised and separated from motor vehicle lanes, cyclopaths improve safety and promote cycling. RCA members advocated for a cyclopath on South Union Street as part of the Inner Loop Development. We also assisted in the development and planning of a two-way cyclopath on Elmwood Ave., which is funded and being designed.

Rochester Bike Week

For the fifth year, RCA organized, promoted, and assisted in advertising numerous rides and events before, during, and after the two week Rochester Bike Week.

Bike Corrals

For the fourth year RCA organized and staffed this popular, donation based, bicycle parking facilities at Corn Hill Festival, Clothesline Festival, Little Theater Bicycle Film Festival, Spokes & Ink Festival, Public Market Bike In Movies.

Themed Community and Charity Rides

Supported or organized by RCA and its members: Santa Ride, Tweed Ride, Seersucker Ride, Tour de Cure, Bike MS, Light Up The Night Ride, Conkey Cruisers rides, Trike Race on El Camino Trail, Unity Rides, Rochester Twilight Criterium.

Safety Education

  • Bicycle safety brochures, in 10 different languages, available here.
  • Enhanced public education programs to improve safe roadway habits for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists in all demographic groups, developed in conjunction with the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency.
  • Rochester Bike Map and safety brochure distribution at RCA organized events; to bicycle shops. Encouraged the Genesee Transportation Council to continually publish and print the Rochester Bike Map.
  • RCA members are participating in the League of American Bicyclist’s League Certified Instructor (LCI) program to have additional trained bicycle safety instructors in the area.

Local and State Conferences and Events

  • Women’s Safe Cycling Summit, a conference by and for Monroe County women to develop strategies to encourage women to bicycle more confidently.
  • New York Bicycling Coalition’s Western NY Bicycle Summit, encouraging working relationships among bicycle advocacy organizations in Buffalo, Ithaca, Syracuse, and Rochester.
  • Bicycle Advocacy Discussion, Richard Fries, Executive Director of MassBike, on attracting and retaining the millennial generation as bicycle advocates; urban development; and revitalization; with support from the Rochester Community Design Center.
  • Electric Bicycle Seminar: RCA & the New York Bicycling Coalition brought Nelson Vails, Olympic Silver Medalist to Rochester to lead a panel on the need for an electric bicycle law at the David Gantt Community Center.
  • Outreach to the myriad formal and informal bicycling organizations and groups as well as bicycle shops in the area to truly form an alliance to advocate for improved bicycling infrastructure.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited Train

RCA was represented on the Amtrak/Adventure Cycling Association Bicycle Task Force and was instrumental in having Trainside Checked Bicycle Service to be offered on the Lake Shore Limited’s route (New York City/Boston to Chicago) at the Rochester Amtrak Station.

Public Relations and Communication with the community

Improving and increasing the content on RCA’s web site, Facebook pages, and Twitter tweets resulting in significant increases in the number of web site page views; Facebook members (809+) and Twitter followers (43% increase since September 2016).

RCA Continuity

Additional younger, 20- to 35-year-old bicyclists, became active participants at RCA meetings and as bicycling advocates at government and non-government hearings and meetings in the Rochester community.

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Breaking the Bubble, 5 December 7:30-8:30

Be part of the discussion “Breaking The Bubble: Re-Humanizing Rochester: The Past, Present, and Future of Rochester’s Transportation System”, 5 December, 7:30-8:30 at Brue Coffee downtown. Reconnect Rochester founder Mike Governale and City of Rochester Transportation Specialist Erik Frisch will speak about getting around by bike, light rail, Lyft, Uber, and more. It’s the first in a series of events soon to include presentations from Joshua Dubler and Mayor Lovely Warren. Come on out!

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3-foot passing law + jerseys!


We at the Rochester Cycling Alliance are working with the New York Bike Coalition toward a state law requiring motorists to leave a 3-foot space when passing cyclists on the road. You can read more and help by contacting your local Assemblyman or local Senator, donating to RCA, and donating to NYBC. You can also show your support by wearing this jersey to spread the message! Want one? Contact Maura Gannan at NYBC.

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Rochester awarded Bronze Bicycle Friendly City status

by Harvey Botzman

The League of American Bicyclists continues to cite Rochester for its success as a Bicycle Friendly City. In its most recent Fall, 2016, rankings, Rochester once again achieved a Bronze rating. More than 140 cities applied for this prestigious award this year. More than 404 cities throughout the USA have ranked for their bicycling infrastructure.

Of Rochester’s nearest municipal neighbors, Buffalo is ranked as an Honorable Mention city; Ithaca as a Bronze city; and Syracuse is unranked.

Being ranked as a Bicycle Friendly City has important tourism ramifications. Not only do leisure bicycle tourists traveling in the United States seek out cities ranked by the League to bicycle the infrastructure but also corporate location officials seek to site their offices, factories, and warehouses in cities with excellent bicycling infrastructure.

These corporate location officials continually cite bicycling infrastructure as an important accoutrement wanted by their employees. Their employees want to commute to and from the work place as part of their healthy living life style. This type of commuting is not limited only to the newest employees (the 20 & 30-year-old demographic) but also by employees in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s.

Members of the Rochester Cycling Alliance and the City of Rochester’s Environmental Services Department, will review the League’s comments in an effort to achieve Silver Bicycle Friendly City status.

The Rochester Cycling Alliance meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 7:00 P. M., usually in room 116, Wilmot Hall, University of Rochester, as listed on the RCA calendar. Free bike parking & automobile parking.

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Nelson Vails visit sponsored by Conkey Cruisers, 25-27 September

Conkey Cruisers, founded by RCA board member Theresa Bowick, will host Olympic medalist and cycling advocate Nelson “Nelly” Vails in Rochester 25-27 September. You can join him to see Cheetah: The Nelson Vails Story, attend a lunch & learn panel about the health benefits of legalizing electric bikes, ride with Nelly on a Slow Roll in Buffalo, hear Nelly on WDKX, see a Celebrity Tricycle Race, and ride again on a Family Fun Ride. Get more details here!

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City to Nature Ride with Genessee Land Trust

As part of the first annual ‘Bike Your Park Day’ happening across the United States, Genesee Land Trust will be leading a City to Nature ride, happening Saturday, 24 September at 10:00. We will begin the ride on El Camino at Conkey Corner Park and ride north to Turning Point Park and Lake Ontario, and back. After the ride, any and all are welcome to join us at the Genesee Brew House for a late lunch, as Genesee Land Trust will be the featured charity and 10% of your bill will go to Genesee Land Trusts mission of preserving open space and connecting nature to the City of Rochester.

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Bringing electric bikes to New York

This essay by Paul Winkeller, Executive Director of the New York Bicycling Coalition, originally appeared in the Buffalo News on 6 September 2016.

In 2002, federal law was amended to distinguish bicycles with low-power electric motors capable of reaching speeds of 20 mph or less, known as electric bicycles, from motorcycles, mopeds, and motor vehicles.

The New York State Legislature never changed state law to conform to this federal standard.

Although it is completely legal to sell and purchase electric bicycles in New York, it is illegal to operate them on public roadways. This creates confusion for manufacturers and consumers in this fast-growing market. It is time for New York to clarify where and how electric bicycles can be used.

Electric bicycles operate nearly identically to a traditional human-powered bicycle, but are easier to pedal with assistance from an electric motor that is activated when pedaling. Electric bicycles do not compromise consumer safety.
While research shows that the average speed of electric bicycle users on roadways is slightly faster than that of regular bicycle users, there have not been any significant increases in bike collisions, trail user conflicts, safety complaints or litigation with the growth in popularity of electric bicycles.

Electric bicycles benefit senior citizens, parents with children and people with disabilities by providing freedom of transportation and mobility. These bicycles also appeal to people who want to bike but do not because of physical limitations and other personal barriers. Encouraging bicycle ridership by any means benefits the environment and improves the state’s air quality, traffic congestion and quality of life.

Legalizing the use of electric bicycles will bring bicycle-based dollars to New York’s tourism destinations, and will bring increased business to New York’s local bicycle shops and bicycle and accessory manufacturers. Electric bicycles also benefit the environment and local economies by using green battery technology, and will add to New York’s growing energy-efficient transportation system.
In the United States, the bike industry estimates more than 200,000 e-bikes will be sold in 2015, and this number is set to increase by 10 percent annually. New York State could benefit from the sale of electric bicycles with their legalization, and it is estimated by industry sources that annual electric bicycle sales could exceed 10,000 units per year in the state.

Legalizing e-bike use in New York is a benefit to both riders and to the state. Many states already allow e-bikes to be used and California just expanded its e-bike authorization.

Encouraging bicycle use is a safe way to help the environment by limiting congestion, supporting healthy living, promoting New York’s robust and diverse tourism industry and helping local economies.

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