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9 Responses to “Roadside to Bedside: The Real Impact of our Transportation Policies”

  1. Chip says:

    Cyclists in the counties around Rochester may not be aware that they can make use of RGRTA’s regional bus systems serving Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, Ontario, Seneca & Wayne Counties. Buses operated by each of these systems are equipped with bike racks (as are RGRTA’s buses in the City of Rochester) to facilitate multi-modal travel for those not using cars. There is no extra fare for a bus passenger using the bike rack.

  2. Brian M. says:

    As someone who works at RIT, I’m dismayed at the clear lack of alternatives and the clear split/discontinuity between RIT and downtown Rochester as incurred by lack of a good public transit system.

    I use a motorcycle when it’s warm out, but when weather goes south for that certain half of the year, I’m forced into car use. Alternatives to the car are pretty dicey: taking a bus there round-trip takes up 2+ hour of my time. The bus zooms to MCC in 20, but then takes its sweet time stopping at shopping areas and then deposits me at RIT, and a hour’s now gone. Same for the route back.

    Because of RGRTA’s apparent refusal to expedite their RIT-downtown route, this year, I’m using an electric fat-bike to get to work. I started using the bike trails, which I found to be quite awesome and deposited me at RIT swiftly. Then snow/ice came by and I discovered that these cherished bike trails aren’t cleared/plowed. So I now bike on Mt. Hope, which’s bereft of bike infrastructure, constantly hoping that someone doesn’t hit me.

    Rochester definitely suffers from automobile privilege.

  3. Irene says:

    It’s unfortunate that RIT moved out there instead of staying downtown. I took classes there for two years and had no viable options other than driving.

  4. Carl says:

    What a lovely gesture to extend to poor Debbie. Very kind and the solidarity is exemplary. I don’t know the circumstances, but nobody deserves to have that happen, even when there is an element of foolhardiness, as sometimes is the case.

    My wife and I work on B-H Townline Rd, on the drag-race portion between East H and West H roads. Formerly middle-class, we have been getting by with one car for several years. Not hard when minimally employed, now it’s a growing hassle as our hours are diverging. We’re pretty much forced to get another auto, even though we live in the city, just north of Westfall – barely two miles away. Yes, it’s f*ed up!

    If it was April, I’d be thinking, “screw it, I’ll walk or bus/walk.” Bike? Never. Not in March. Not in July. It’s suicidal on E Henn.

    It isn’t right, but the major artery roads belong to cars, by default. I’m not taking the risk that has hurt Debbie or that killed a fellow I worked with twenty years ago. I’m not doing what I routinely did 35 years ago when attending MCC. I had a chance for survival on the streets back then; not now.

    Respectfully, I urge cyclists not to risk their lives in trying to make a point. We have to fight for safe infrastructure. It will come through mobilizing the growing numbers of people who need it, more every day. Not by being martyrs.

  5. Scott Wagner says:

    Carl and Brian, your comments resonate strongly. My daily bike commute is over exactly these roads – Mount Hope, East Henrietta, and Brighton Henrietta TL Road. My business hires engineering co-op students from nearby RIT, many of whom would prefer to ride their bikes to work, but are forced by the absurdly dangerous design of these roads to join forces with the problem and drive cars.
    RGRTA is equally a part of this problem, as Brian notes. The bus routes do not provide service for the many businesses on BHTLR and Metro Park, many of whom can be seen every morning and evening trudging a half mile or more through the heaps of filthy snow and car snot which clog the meager sidewalks between their workplaces and the nearest bus stop.
    When a few individuals ask for change and balance in road design and maintenance, the county and state “transportation” departments wring their hands and sadly protest that they have no way to consider sensible transportation – all of their energy is focused on serving solely automobiles. (Firsthand knowledge here – I am one of those vocal individuals.) Perhaps if there are enough voices and enough outrage then change will come, and these crucial transportation corridors through our community will be available to all who pay for them.

  6. Gary says:

    Scott, thanks for posting. Also to Carl and Brian for your comments. I attended RIT downtown and didn’t need a bike, much less a car. Everywhere I needed to go was an easy walk. But by the 90s, almost every other year some RIT kid was killed riding a bike near the Henrietta campus.

    Transit is little better. I tried to meet an RIT student friend at the Public Market one Saturday morning. It wasn’t possible. The earliest he could arrive by bus was Main and Clinton at around noon, then walk to the market by maybe 12:30 when some vendors were already packing up.

    Week before last, I hit an unfilled pavement cut on the Inner Loop that took out my car. It’s useless now, so I’m trying to get around by bike and bus. It’s a joke. Buses come once an hour. The online “Trip Planner” only suggests a “walk” option for most destinations near downtown, rather than even attempting a bus trip. Alex White, in a recent conversation, emphasized the transit system is designed for suburbanites who work in the city. They ride in for $1.00, as opposed to most city residents, whose rides cost $2.00, a penalty for not ending their ride at Main and Clinton.

    As for biking, I can’t ride in the two inches of permaslush on my street. The sidewalks are impassible. So I have to walk my bike in the street, then ride it if I find usable pavement. I do so in fear of hitting ice and crashing to the ground. I took a hard fall two years ago from a poorly designed curb cut and was unable to ride for several months.

    Also, while we have excellent thoroughfares that don’t allow automobiles, such as the river and canal trails, they are not maintained during winter, making them unusable for perhaps four months each year.

    I wonder if we may now have sufficient voices to make an impact on city and county leaders for ending the car-centric monopoly on transportation funding. The onerous cost of owning a car in dollars as well as sustainability has become too much for not only those on limited incomes like me but also on students and recent grads struggling with enormous college debt. What can we do to change that?

  7. Diane says:

    BTW – I was hit by a speeding, distracted motorist while riding a bicycle when I was 18 yrs. old. I managed to begin riding a bicycle again -for a means of transportation and also recreational trips with friends.

    I have some observations as a motorist. While many bicycle riders ride prudently, there are some who literally think they own the road; not only riding in a car lane(s), but weaving at will between cars, and crossing in front of cars as well as lanes, without warning. I have encountered extremely dangerous tactics and have had to break fast.

    In the wintertime, the roads are narrower than usual due to heavy snow, and the roads are slick, and when walkers additionally complicate the picture when sidewalks are inaccessible and there is no shoulder to walk on, bicyclists who continue to ride in the road in that weaving fashion, become an even greater threat to public safety.

    My heart really goes out to all those who rely on a bicycle for transportation in the winter as I have seen many of them. Most of them ride prudently, with safety in mind, and use lights. (Blinking lights really show up at night and in a snowstorm and reflective clothing/gear some is also helpful). I wish I that could just impress upon the minority of bicyclists who cross sporadically between lanes and in front of cars, that they are a danger to others on the road as well as themselves.

  8. Hi Diane, I’m happy to hear you have recovered from being hit and are able to bike again. That is a tremendous achievement!

    I also feel your plea to other cyclists is coming from the right place; out of concern for other human beings and a desire to see others avoid the same hardship you’ve had to endure.

    Having said that, I would like to add my own observations (as someone who drives more than he bikes or buses). A person on a bike or on foot in a sense does “own the road”. Legally it’s my responsibility as the person behind the wheel of a 2,000lb+ piece of machinery to do everything I possibly can to avoid crashing it into someone. And if I’m paying attention (i.e. not texting or diddling with my music playlist), and I’m driving within the speed limit (in most cases in our city that means UNDER 30mph), then it should be pretty easy for me not crash my machine into a person on a bicycle regardless of how that person is “weaving”.

    Of course safety should everyone’s top priority – even cyclists. But it’s important for us to remember the pecking order and watch out for those using slower, less powerful modes of transportation:
    1. people on foot
    2. people on bikes or other non-motorized vehicles
    3. people in motorized vehicles.

    And when I’m driving I remind myself that I’m moving a deadly weapon through someone else’s neighborhood. I need to respect that.

    Mike

  9. Brian M. says:

    Re: Diane’s comment,

    I agree about the danger that that type of bicyclist pose, and I am sad about how it aggravates automobile drivers. I think a big issue that nobody talks about here is how road laws are automobile centric. Our road laws dictate that all users of the road behave like cars: bicycles, motorcycles, etc.

    I think road laws being automobile-centric is the clear cause of a lot of resentment from car drivers toward other users of the road. Car drivers get angry from other road-users not following what is perceived as the “rules of the road,” but they are actually car-centric laws. The problem is that rules of road use are vague at best and do not explicitly explain how other users of the road are to act.

    I have a bicycle, electric bicycle, electric motorcycle, and a gasoline motorcycle, and each of those operate VERY differently on the road from each other, and from a typical car. Yet, I have to follow car-centric rules, which goes to take away the inherent advantages of those vehicles (filtering, yielding to stop lights instead of stopping, etc). On a bicycle, I apparently cannot filter through cars in New York. I have to stop at red lights. But the law is astonishingly vague when it comes to those; police don’t enforce them. Yet, car drivers get angry when I “blow” a red light (read: I approach red light slowly, look to see if the coast is clear, and then coast through the red light without stopping).

    There should be explicit road-user differentiation, with respect to the differing abilities of each type of mode of transportation.


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