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Rochester’s Bike Master Plan—It’s Not Just for Cyclists

August 29th, 2010

Rochester is a great city for off-road cycling. The City's Bicycle Master Plan Project will seek to elevate Rochester to full 'Bicycle Friendly Community' status with the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Communities Program. [PHOTO: from Tobo's Flickr stream]
Something outstanding is happening in our community—Rochester is catching Bike Fever. Over the past decade or more Monroe County and local municipalities have been steadily making investments in existing off-road trails and in new ones, especially around our colleges, universities and along the river and lake shore. You may have noticed some new ones near you. Bicycling Magazine even placed Rochester on their list of America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Citiesexternal link this year. Albeit at #50, but hey, it’s a good start!

Rochester's many bike routes (both on and off-road) as seen using Google transit.It’s important to note that much of this progress has been driven by local citizens and bike advocacy groups such as the Genesee Regional Off-Road Cyclistsexternal link and the Rochester Cycling Allianceexternal link. One major initiative brought about in part by the RCA is perhaps the surest sign yet that Rochester has a very bright bike future—the City’s Bicycle Master Plan Projectexternal link. Rochester is developing a long-term master plan for bicycling infrastructure and services. While the plan will provide conceptual design and inventory work with respect to on-street bike lanes, it will also consider shared lane markings (sharrows), bicycle boulevards, bicycle parking, commuter facilities (e.g. showers, lockers), bicycle sharing, and more. The goal is to achieve full “Bicycle Friendly Community” status from the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Communities Programexternal link.

Make no mistake, this is a goal that will take time, money, and community involvement to achieve. But it’s one that is very attainable and will come with plenty of rewards for all of us along the way.

America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities by Bicycling Magazine.So why am I making such a big deal out of this bike planexternal link and cycling infrastructure on a site called Rochester Subway? Well, Frank Regan (Rochester Environmental News Examiner) summed it up pretty well yesterday in an article called Rochester’s Bicycle Plan, why bother?external link. In it, Regan asserts, “if you believe bus rapid transit, light rail, subways, high speed rail, or even monorails are better than getting behind bicycle transportation…ask yourself why would city, county, and transportation officials consider such major changes to our existing structure if the public doesn’t show an interest in even the least expensive and structurally intrusive modes? Wouldn’t it be better to demonstrate that the most inexpensive and doable modes have traction and then try for more radical modes of transportation that might make our transportation system sustainable? Think of it: Showing an interest in bicycle transportation, even if it isn’t your thing, could help smooth the way for other modes that would take more infrastructural change.”

Rochester IS showing interest—and that’s a very positive sign for alternative transportation advocates like us.

Submit Your Ideas & Suggestions

Initial public meetings have already taken place, but there’s still time to send the City your thoughtful ideas and suggestions for the Bike Master Plan. Use this online formexternal link. Your suggestions will go directly to Erik Frisch, Transportation Specialist, and Chuck Thomas, Director of Planning.

Here is the list of comments received by the City as of August 25, 2010. I’ve highlighted some of the ones that jumped out at me…

6/15/2010 7:45
New Mount Hope redesign appears lacking in bycycle lane, particular between Fords Bridge and Clinton.

6/17/2010 17:36
I love biking around the city. The few things I would change would be more places to lock up a bike (especially on Monroe Ave) and more amenities on the river & canal paths. My friends and I bike the plethora of bike trails in and around Rochester and there aren’t many businesses to frequent! It would be great if there were more complexes built that have easy bike/hike/boat access like the new Brooks Landing. That is perfect too because if I’m not stopping, I don’t have to dismount. I go to that Boulder a lot, but something near Genesee Valley Park/Henrietta would be great too. The big problem with Corn Hill Landing is that it is difficult to get from the South Wedge over there via bike… a BIG mistake when the new bridge was built. Anyway, if you want to get ideas, look to Vancouver’s Stanley Park. There are bike rental shops on every corner and we have many more miles of trails. If only people in Rochester appreciated what we have. Oh, and some lights. It gets dark fast in the Fall and the Riverway Trail near the 19th ward is scary dark.

6/24/2010 12:23
St. Paul St. definately needs space alloted for cyclists. I (and have seen others) use the curb because it’s very dangerous although there is a risk of hitting a pedestrian.

6/25/2010 16:42
As newcomers to Rochester, we hope for a safe extension of a bicycle trail from downtown to Lake Ontario. Is there anything already in the works?

6/26/2010 20:55
This is an excellent idea. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

6/28/2010 23:01
I believe the Bicycle Master Plan will result in a more valid document if the this comment form permits the uploading of .jpg or other image formats. I am certain the City’s webmaster can control for the blocking of viruses and other detrimental programming “diseases.” I expect the committee to look at current on road and off road bicycle facilities to see how they might be improved to better serve the cycling community. I expect, in the interests of producing a “more perfect” Bicycle Plan for the Committee, to publish on this web site, the “comments, suggestions, ideas, or concerns” entered in this box as a continual discussion of people interested in the Rochester Bicycling Plan.

6/30/2010 14:33
This is an email I sent today regarding the Highland Canalway Trail Project which is an excellent idea. I am an avid cyclist who commutes to work nearly everyday from the Northeast side of the city to West Henrietta near Mt. Hope. I recently had a collision with a car and fortunately only had minor injuries. At 60 years old I have been commuting by bike for over 30 years and hope to continue riding as long as possible. The reason I had the accident, was because I was avoiding travel on Main St. as just 2 days prior I was nearly hit by an accelerating car passing another on the right side where I was riding on the shoulder. I was literally missed by 1 or 2 inches! I have been distressed by the way engineers have looked at street improvements recently. The so-called improvement of installing (bump-outs) on city streets is an extreme hazard to cyclists as they have no where to go when one suddenly comes upon one in heavy traffic. It would be much better for all concerned if instead of bump-outs a bike lane were installed. This would encourage more people to bicycle and not fear the traffic as many have expressed to me. They simply do not feel safe riding on the street with cars, trucks and buses. When improvements are made the city should get input from commuting cyclists, pedestrians, and those who use public transportation and want to see our city going more green. This comment form is a great idea! I say restrict the traffic flow more and get people thinking more about alternatives to the 1 person per car paradigm, especially within the city limits. A few months ago I attended a meeting where these engineers wanted to remove a traffic light from the corner of Garson and Culver. They backed down but the idea that they wanted to do this in the first place was crazy. Some bike advocates were there and these engineers were trying to push the idea of bump-outs on Culver also. Can we open some dialog on this subject? Thanks for taking the time to hear me out! This is a link to a D&C article about the death of a bicyclistexternal link.

7/9/2010 11:14
As a bike commuter it is not hard to see there are many improvements needed on our city streets to make Rochester a bike-friendly city. Main Street is a biker’s nightmare. I appreciate any and all efforts by the City to improve the safety and conditions for bicyclists on our roads.

7/22/2010 13:43
As someone who bikes to work when weather permits, this sounds wonderful! Finally! Bike lanes, bike racks at all businesses and incentives for people to bike to work are needed! In addition, regardless of any elaborate initiatives, I’ve felt for a long time now that we need some Public Service Announcements to educate motorists and correct the common misconceptions that bicyclists should stay on the sidewalks. Motorists really need to know/learn that bicycles CURRENTLY have every right to use the road. I would like to see media coverage on TV, radio, newspapers and online asking motorists to STOP BLOWING THEIR HORNS, often with angry looks in their faces, at bicyclists like myself. It is a form of misdirected road rage, and can cause accidents! Thank you.

7/22/2010 15:03
Party in the Park Event 7/22/2010 is not a bike friendly eventexternal link. The discription from the city web site says to leave your bicycles at home. I am planning on going to this event on my bicycle because it is acutally a great bike route from my house in pittsford. Take the Canal path west to the greenway trail north along the genesse river to the concert. I bet I don’t find any bike racks. We already have some great trails for bicycles around and this event should be promoted as a “cool”, “green” and “healthy” event that welcomes bicycles! I recommend providing bike rack “coat checks” at events. I belive plenty of active people/families would be be attracted to Bicycle friendly events.

7/25/2010 17:41
As a city resident and cyclist, I think developing cycle-able center city connections between the southern and northern legs of the Genesee River Trail should be a high priority. BTW, congrats on the recent improvements to East Ave. between Alexander and Culver.

8/1/2010 16:34
I commute regularly from my South Wedge home to my job in the Federal Building. It has been very concerning that the wonderful trail along the River has been closed, without notice or signage, during events at the Rivers Festival Site. I don’t understand why the trail is being closed durung such events. No City street would be closed without notice, but a trail that recreational bikers and commuters are beginning to recognize and count on is unceremoniously closed, as though it does not matter. This is the wrong message to give our residents and visitors at this important time in developing a bicycle Master Plan. Thank you

8/4/2010 9:39
Hello, I’d like to submit my comments regarding the bicycle initiative. I think it’s a great idea, especially because Rochester is lucky to have the Erie Canal and other local paths. I think the existing paths need to be incorporated into the new plan, and a good start would be to look at ways of interconnecting the existing bike paths. That way riders could access a wider cross-section of the city, if they could get from path to path without being “locked” into staying on one path because it either simply makes a loop or dead-ends. I also think any major street that has no sidewalks or wide shoulders needs to be carefully examined, as these are not bicycle-friendly streets. There are many streets in Rochester where a bicyclist would be taking his or her own life into their hands by attempting to traverse them. Yet sometimes there is no other way for a bicyclist to get from one bicycle path to another. Linking up these paths in a safe manner would be a huge improvement. An idea for promoting the bicycle paths when this project is complete (or partially complete) is to hold a “Rochester Ride-athon”, where bicyclists could pedal their way all around the city over the course of a few hours without ever leaving a bike path. Not only would this publicize the new and improved bike paths, but it would also introduce area bicyclists to the new network of paths to make them familiar with it, and raise awareness in motorists so as to help minimize any bicyclist-related accidents. I am sure the planners will be looking at every conceivable angle when implementing the new plan, but I wanted to be sure that they didn’t just come along and start building new paths or tackling expensive projects (like street widening) before they look at cost-effective ways to better utilize the bike path assets the city already possesses. Thank you for your time and consideration.

8/10/2010 12:38
First off I would like to say that I think it is great that there will be a better way for cyclist to get around. I do have a couple of suggestions from what I have experienced while riding. There are some areas where an attempt was made to leave a shoulder/path but then sewer grates take up most of the area (W. Ridge rd for one). You can’t ride over them so you have to enter into the car lane. Not very safe conditions in my opinion. Future “paths” should be layed out differently to accommidate the space for the grates and cyclist. Secondly, there are many areas where the sides of the roads are a real mess(The Parkway for one). You have broken glass, stones, twigs, amongst a number of things that make riding difficult yet again because those are not conditions you want to be riding over. There again your forced to ride in the car lane. So while I think this is great idea, a little more thought needs to be done with the design and then adequit clean-up done routinely.

8/13/2010 1:14
I strongly support any sort of cycle paths or trails that get cyclists off the streets and onto the sides of them safely!!! As a cyclist and also an automobile driver, I know the frustrations of both worlds. To be able to feel safer riding my bike to and from school and work would be so wonderful and I think it wou;d do a lot for the community. I also believe it would improve morale and encourage individuals to be healthier and that would go a long way. I would ride my bike far more if I didn’t feel unsafe on the roads, and more importantly, that I wouldn’t get a ticket for riding on the sidewalk, which is more logical to me. I hope you decide to go through with the plans!

8/14/2010 22:22
I think connecting the existing trails is a fantastic idea. Thank you for all the work that has been done putting bike trails in the city so far, they are a great asset to Rochester.

8/21/2010 21:26
Bicycle Master Plan Projectexternal linkThere are all kinds of great plans and studies stored hereexternal link. I’m curious how well the “BMP” will take into account the previous studies, especially something like the “Regional Trails Initiative – Phase 2.” Connectors between existing trails, funding for current plans, and fundraising for the overall network connecting to nearby counties…I realize everything is expensive (millions), but I hope the case can be made that Rochester could stand out as a premier biking city in the US. I wonder if it would help convince tax payers if someone could give us the average cost to build and maintain 1 mile of road as opposed to a trail (or bike lane). In the meantime, finishing/fixing up the River Trail (Falls Rd, connections through downtown, the area between Turning Point and Maplewood Rose Gardens) would definitely solidify a current “backbone” of the network. I’m also curious if there’s any interest in a connector trail from the forthcoming El-Camino trailexternal link to Irondequois Bay West. Google maps shows a long stretch of what appears to be an abandoned rail line (which you can find at the “bottom” in Bay West). (Of course, with some of the land already owned, the idea will likely cost even more $.) Even biking along the Erie Canal in Greece finds what appears to be even more abandoned lines. And of course, I wonder if the rail “hugging” the gorge along the brewery across from High Falls can ever be opened up? Actually, I have all kinds of wish-list items (better shoulders on roads near the universities, sewer grates that align perpendicular to the “bike lanes”, some way of adding a bike lane to cross Irondequoit Bay, crosswalks in certain areas of existing trails, and more). How detailed should we get?

8/25/2010 6:59
Great to hear that a Bicycle Master Plan is being considered. I live in the city near Main & Winton and work near Lee and Lyell in Gates. I have riden my bike several times to work, but only very early in the morning before there is any traffic. I don’t even take a chance riding home due to traffic/safety and instead manage to get a ride home. I have also taken the bus which requires a transfer and walking quite a bit. I would prefer working closer to home with more convienent/”green” options rather than just driving. While considering your plan be sure to review combining options… much like a park & ride. Perhaps a Park & Bike or just enhancing the Bus & Bike options.

8/25/2010 7:26
As a regular bike-to- work commuter riding Between Rochester South East side and Webster Phillips Rd, I want to have a safe, fast, and bike friendly Route in the City. Winton Road is direct to Empire blvd but it is rough, has no bike Lane. Empire is dangerous. Crossings to Penfield and Webster are limited And generally dangerous for bikers. As a recreational biker, as a city resident of the Cobbs Hill area, I want to see Rochester Complete it’s bike ( shared use) trail between Charlotte and downtown. As a city resident, I want to have city and towns sponsored fee-v Based annual bike ride through the

8/25/2010 9:26
Bike lanes on Culver (a major eastern artery) is desperately needed. This lane should run on Culver from Monroe – Ridge Road. There are many red lights, side streets and on street parking which make biking on this route dangerous. Thanks for opportunity to comment.

8/25/2010 9:26
Bicycle Master Plan Projectexternal linkPlease get the bicycles off the sidewalks downtown. It is illegal to be on the sidewalk, and dangerous for the pedestrians.

8/25/2010 12:48
1. There should be a minimum age requirement the same as it is to have a motor vehicle license. 2. All bicycles riding in the lane (road) should be licensed and insured. 3. All bicycles riding in the lane (road) must abide all traffic laws the same as a motor vehicle does. 4. If not licensed and insured, they will be ticketed and fined. 5. There should be a time limit set as far as winter weather. Riding a bicycle in Rochester during the winter would make for very unsafe road conditions for the riders as well as the motor vehicles trying to avoid them.

8/25/2010 16:48
I agree with many of the comments that have already been presented. But today I am writing to ask why there was not more advance and/or widely publicized notice of the public meetings tonight and tomorrow? I would like to attend, but may not be able to because it is such short notice.

More Information…

Download the Greater Rochester Area Bicycling Map, prepared by the Genesee Transportation Council.For more information about bicycling in the Rochester region and for a complete map of trails and bike routes visit Genesee Transportation Councilexternal link.

Still not convinced bike infrastructure is worth the effort? On his blog, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asks “Why devote resources to a transportation mode that fewer than 10% of the nation is using?” Read his answerexternal link.

I also recommend watching these videos from Streetfilms…

and

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 29th, 2010 at 10:17 pm and is filed under Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Rochester’s Bike Master Plan—It’s Not Just for Cyclists”

  1. I would like to see the plan include more on street bicycling facilities. This includes more bike lanes, bike sharrows both on the lanes and on unlaned but with sufficient bike lane space (e. g., Monroe Avenue and University Avenue), share the road signs, watch for slower moving traffic.

    I believe a massive public information campaign including bike with traffic signs, bus wrappings (e. g., Iowa City IA), etc., no use of cell phones while biking; at least one ear uncovered when using a device lessening the ability to hear while bicycling, etc. Combined with enforcement of such laws now in the Statutes of New York State would definitely improve the relationship between bicyclists and motor vehicle operators and their passengers.

    Likewise, motor vehicle drivers have to be re-educated about the bicyclist’s right to bicycle on the roadway, even taking a full lane (although very few bicyclists do such an action); hassling of a bicyclist with statements such as “Get off the road you belong on the sidewalk” although are not illegal (they should be Assemblyman Gantt) denies the bicyclists equal protection of the laws of NYS.

    The one Monroe County town where I am hassled most by teenagers and adults is Brighton. Apparently the teens are being taught, in the law class and possibly the driver’s ed class that bicyclists do not have any road rights.

    In fact it is more dangerous both to pedestrians and bicyclists to be bicycling on the sidewalk, particularly if you are going against traffic (even on the sidewalk). Reason: Think about which way a motor vehicle driver first looks when exiting a driveway or street on to a street.

    I am certain the Committee charged with developing and then implementing Rochester’s Bicycle Master Plan will include the above suggestions by me and others plus many more ways to improve bicycling facilities in Rochester as well as eventually Monroe County.

    I am on the Board of Directors, New York Bicycling Coalition as well as a member of 5 different tourism organizations promoting tourists including bicyclists coming to Rochester. Yes, I am a member of the Rochester Bicycling Club, Rochester Cycling Alliance; and I do write bicycle tour guide books.

  2. Scott MacRae says:

    This was a great summary of the ROC Bicycle Master Plan and it’s implications for Rochester’s movement toward sustainability and improved quality of life. The Rochester Cycling Alliance is writing a case statement to obtain $50 Million for active transportation, bicycling and walking. The dollars are part of $2 Billion proposal – The Active Transportation Act of 2010 (HR4722) proposed by Portland, Ore. congressman Earl Blummenhauer. The “ACT ACT” will fund 40 communities to the tune of $50 million if passed. Rochester has an excellent chance of being funded if it’s passed. Rochester is currently 18th in bike commuting and has an excellent pedestrian infrastructure record. Please write your congresmen and ask the House Representative to Cosponsor HR4722. I’d also love to use your photo in our Case Statement since it’s a great shot of cyclists and the Rochester Skyline.

    Any comments you wish to make on the Rochester Bicycle Master Plan regarding routes that should be prioritized or important destinations can be sent to Erik Frisch City of Rochester Email: Frische@cityofrochester.gov

  3. admin says:

    @Scott, it *is* a great photo! The photo is actually a Creative Commons image from Tobo’s Flickr photostream. You can use it provided you give Tobo a photo credit as I have done.


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