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Tell Senator Robach We Actually WANT Safer Streets…

January 2nd, 2014

Lake Avenue Improvement Project
Drivers who like to speed their cars down Lake Avenue between Charlotte and the city have found a new enemy in the Lake Avenue Improvement Project external link. The plan aims to reduce automobile speeds to better match the posted speed limit of 35 mph by reducing the number lanes. It would also add safety features for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. But some drivers in the Charlotte neighborhood say the plan will only serve to cause traffic jams and they’ve called on Senator Joe Robach to block it.

If you are a pedestrian… a cyclist… someone who’s ever walked to a bus stop… or a driver who likes the idea of making our streets safer for everyone, you might want to sign this petition external link in support of the project. And please go ahead and share the link with a few friends.

Lake Avenue Improvement Project
The City of Rochester is proposing to reconstruct 1 mile of Lake Avenue external link from Merrill Street (near Kodak Park) to the Genesee Riverway Trail (near Burley Road). The plan would reduce the lanes from four to three – with one lane in each direction plus a center turn lane. The project would also add safety improvements for pedestrians and transit users, and add bike lanes to connect points south to the Genesee Riverway Trail to the north.

[ See the full plan rendering ]

Lake Avenue Improvement Project
Drivers in the area are so upset with the planned “road diet” that they have contacted State Senator Joseph Robach to ask him to stop the project. Their primary concern: They are afraid that this project will cause massive traffic jams when there is a funeral at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery or an event at Ontario Beach. Nearly one thousand drivers have made their opinion known via a petition and now this project and future road improvement projects may be in jeopardy.

Drivers regularly travel at speeds in excess of the posted 35 mph speed limit along Lake Avenue.
It should be known however, that the City has conducted an in-depth project analysis external link. Based on all the traffic data, implementing a “road diet” along this section of Lake Ave is not only feasible, but it is expected to help reduce traffic speeds, improve safety, and provide an attractive gateway between the Charlotte neighborhoods to the north and Eastman Kodak neighborhoods to the south.

An accident analysis reviewed a three year period between Nov. 1, 2008 – October 31, 2011. During that time there were 67 reportable accidents within the project area. According to the analysis, the accident rate of 3.26 accidents per million vehicle miles. That’s higher than the Monroe County overall mean accident rate of 0.30 Acc/Mev.

A four lane highway is simply not needed at this location, and it is dangerous to allow a few vocal drivers to dictate how our city streets are designed and constructed.

Lake Avenue Improvement Project, cross-section.

This project has the potential to improve safety in the following ways:

  • Reducing the number of auto lanes has been shown to reduce automobile speeds. It is the aim of this project to reduce speeds to better match the existing posted speed limit of 35 mph (speeds currently reach and exceed 48 mph) while maintaining acceptable levels of service along the corridor during AM and PM rush hours.
  • The analysis found the most common types of accidents (passing and rear-end crashes) at midblock locations could be mitigated by reducing the number of lanes in each direction.
  • A new center median with turning pockets would provide safer left turning movements, possibly reducing the number of rear-end crashes along this stretch. According to the Federal Highway Administration adding left turn lanes may reduce crashes by 19% at signalized intersections (47% for unsignalized intersections).
  • New high-visibility pedestrian crosswalks would be installed at intersections and pedestrian crossings.
  • A pedestrian shelter in the center media would make it easier for pedestrians to cross Lake Ave; especially between St Bernards Park Apartments and the bus stop across the street.
  • By reducing the roadway from four lanes to two, bicycle lanes will be able to be included through the project area and connecting to the Genesee Riverway Trail. Currently cyclists must ride in automobile traffic or on the sidewalk.
  • Pull-off areas for buses at designated bus stops so traffic can move freely around buses picking up and dropping off passengers.

Similar completed projects include Sea Breeze Dr (I-590), Dewey Ave, Saint Paul Blvd and Saint Paul Street, Titus Ave, Culver Rd, University Ave, and East Ave. Traffic jams? I haven't seen any yet.
I’ve been very impressed with how similar “road diet” projects around Rochester have turned out. See for example Dewey Ave, Saint Paul Blvd and Saint Paul Street, Titus Ave, Culver Rd, Sea Breeze Dr (I-590), University Ave, and East Ave. Traffic jams? I haven’t seen any yet.

And as a driver myself, I no longer worry about wanna-be NASCAR drivers weaving in and out of traffic and cutting me off so they can be first to the next red light. It’s almost a pleasurable experience driving along these new roads now; and my blood pressure is way down!

Voice Your Support for Safer Streets

Please sign this petition external link and tell Senator Robach not to jeopardize the safety of drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. The Lake Ave Improvement Project is a healthy, people-first approach to neighborhood planning, and it represents the type of improvements we want to see more of in Rochester – not less.

• • •

JIYFR on FacebookUPDATE: The Rochester organization on facebook: Join if you’re from Rochester New York has joined in on the effort to gather signatures for the petition. Thanks JIYFRNY!!!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 at 8:02 am and is filed under Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

19 Responses to “Tell Senator Robach We Actually WANT Safer Streets…”

  1. John Peck says:

    Can you add a tag for “petition” on your blog so we can keep track of those that mention one?

  2. Michael Delaney says:

    Was there anything in the analysis about reduction in cost of maintenance due to the more appropriate sized road? I didn’t see anything as I was skimming through, but I would imagine few lanes would mean a less maintenance.

  3. Good point Michael. I didn’t see anything about future maintenance costs. But I think you’re probably right. I’ll check into it.

  4. Jason Haremza says:

    Well said. I’m increasingly weary of the desires of motorists being prioritized over walkers, bikers, and transit users.

  5. Matty V says:

    Signed. While we’re on the topic of Lake Ave, north of 104, it would be really great if the City could make an effort to do something with the vast and empty Kodak parking lots. This is more of a pipe dream, but my idead would be to turn into greenspace and connect it with Maplewood Park. I don’t know how these types of efforts are advanced, but it would be a great compliment to this road project.

  6. Jason Haremza says:

    The City does not own those parking lots. They are privately owned. If the folks that run the Eastman Business Park want to do something with those lots, it’s up to them.

  7. Matty V says:

    I figured as much. Like I said, “pipedream,” but more generally I would like to see a push for more greenspace in the City particularly in areas along the river.

  8. Kahomono says:

    Robach is the kind of repub who thinks that anyone who didn’t pledge the right frat doesn’t count.

  9. Matthew Denker says:

    To be completely cynical, it seems perfectly safe for the people in cars. Maybe anyone not in a car should get one.

    Shifting gears, this is a perfect place for a road diet, as many of the others that have been implemented are. It’s very challenging to focus city money on one geographical area to drive major growth because of the political pressure to spread money around. Doing so on road diets, as opposed to say, promoting development in every neighborhood at the continued expense of the others is an excellent way to do this.

  10. Jason Haremza says:

    “According to Peter Norton, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia and the author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City, the change is no accident (so to speak). He has done extensive research into how our view of streets was systematically and deliberately shifted by the automobile industry, as was the law itself.

    “If you ask people today what a street is for, they will say cars,” says Norton. “That’s practically the opposite of what they would have said 100 years ago.””

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/04/invention-jaywalking/1837/

  11. kmannkoopa says:

    While talking to a colleague about this post, we compared this stretch of Lake Ave to the stretch of Mt. Hope Ave from Ford St to Elmwood Ave, a similar (both about 6000 feet) stretch. Mt. Hope has more cross-streets and driveways, so that should make traffic a little worse than Lake Ave.

    We were surprised to see from the NYSDOT traffic data viewer (http://gis.dot.ny.gov/tdv/) that Mt. Hope actually has slightly more traffic than Lake Ave (18730 versus 17953). Mt. Hope Avenue works just fine with two lanes in this stretch.

    Last April, the Monroe County Department of Transportation released a memo declaring that the traffic rate of growth in the City dropped by 1.3% per year since 2001 (1.5% county wide), showing that Rochester, like most of America, seems to have reached peak car.

    The funeral procession can be solved with traffic enforcement (it doesn’t seem to be a problem with Mount Hope Cemetery, but it only has about 1/3 the burials Holy Sepulture Cemetery does).

    To the beach traffic, so much traffic comes from the Parkway/O’Rourke bridge that I question if a backup on Lake Ave that far south would actually happen.

  12. Scott says:

    I am all for it. We need more bike friendly roads in Rochester.

  13. Mike says:

    As a bike commuter and a SUV driver I will say that I am all for this! Charlotte residents need to do more research one this one. It’s a no brainer and this is a wonderful post. Thank you again RochesterSubway

  14. @Mike, Thank YOU for reading!

  15. Mike Hall says:

    Always, and for those who think urban bike lane and road diet deign in the city of Rochester is a waste of time and tax payer money then check out what these two major metropolitan areas have done in the past and are proposing in the future:

    http://vimeo.com/83173191

    http://news.discovery.com/tech/gear-and-gadgets/soaring-bike-highway-proposed-in-london-140103.htm

  16. Michael says:

    I would love to see some green infrastructure installed with this project; this would be a great opportunity to update an extremely old utility infrastructure in the area as well as an opportunity to install, native, low-maintenance plant materials throughout the corridor.

    “Trimming” down the lanes isn’t the only option here.

  17. KevinD says:

    I’m a road bicyclist and I often take this route north to the lake when I go on longer rides. In its current state, I’m not really fond of it… there is no space for bicycles, and car traffic moves a little quicker than I’d like. It’s doable, but I keep a fast pace when I’m on it.

    That being said, it’s not nice for commuters or pedestrians. When I say “fast pace,” it’s something I can do without a backpack on, like maybe 22mph. I don’t commute this route.

    Bike lanes on this section of road would be a huge bonus, I think it kind of disconnects the areas north of the cemetery from those south of it. A trim would help, yes – but (as the last commenter suggested) there may be more to do here than what has been proposed.

    That being said, a trimming of lanes has a lot of potential. Glad to see that petition here!

  18. Jim Mayer says:

    Signed. Great article. I really like the way the proposal tires in with the Genesee River Trail.

  19. Kathy C says:

    I think this is a wonderful idea. I lived in Charlotte for years and years, and really, i never felt that the traffic was heavy on his stretch, but it IS a long stretch with no lights, except for the cemetery, which was almost always green, and no sides streets. So, while the traffic wasn’t heavy, it was very fast. I don’t believe this plan would create any kind of problem for mature, responsible adults. I also wish here were bike lanes on more roads because they have every right to be there, but I see them almost get clipped pretty regularly by angry motorists.


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