by BRIAN SHARP, Democrat & Chronicle, link to original post
Rochester’s ever-expanding trails network has a new two-mile addition, two new bridges and plans for new neighborhood connections as well as more on-street bike lanes and shared-use lanes.
Ribbon cuttings are planned for next month. But this week — declared Bike Week in Rochester by Mayor Thomas Richards — residents will have ample opportunity to get out and explore.
“We do have amazing bike trails — if you can get there,” said John Kennedy, a fourth-year student at Rochester Institute of Technology and one of the coordinators of Bike Week activities. Kennedy, 22, rides his bike almost daily from his apartment near downtown to RIT, in part to avoid paying high gas prices. He is president of RIT’s Electric Vehicle Club. As Kennedy describes it, the city has a great “backbone of … bicycle highways.” What comes next is building the on-ramps.
Currently, the city has about 30 miles of multi-use trails intended for walking, running, cycling, skating and other non-motorized forms of transportation. In addition, there are 11 miles designated for on-street bike lanes or shared lanes. That pales in comparison to some other cities. Madison, Wis., for example, has more than 40 miles of trails, 60-plus miles on-street and 130 miles of signed routes through neighborhoods. Bicycling magazine ranks Madison the No. 7 on its America’s Best Bike Cities Top 50. Minneapolis ranks No. 1. Rochester ranks No. 50. But the Flower City is making up ground.
The newest additions to the city system include the $2 million El Camino-Butterhole to Seneca Park trail, a public-private partnership in northeast Rochester running along the east side of the Genesee River from Scrantom Street to Seneca Park. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for June 2.
A new river crossing south of downtown on the old Erie-Lackawanna railroad bridge is finishing up, with a ribbon-cutting set for June 29. And a new trail and roadway connection into the Public Market from Scio Street (via an old railroad bridge over Union Street) should be completed by Memorial Day weekend. Both projects had price tags of $1 million-plus.
Rochester’s trail network has roughly doubled in size over the past 15 years, and gained continuity.
The benefits are many, not just in promoting fitness and reducing the demands on driving lanes and parking spaces but attracting young people and families, serving populations traditionally under-served by other transportation systems. “I’d say the biggest gap is in education,” said Erik Frisch, transportation specialist for the city, referring to both cyclists and motorists.
That, and east-west connections, linkages to neighborhoods and a more extensive way-finding signage network guiding cyclists along side streets and through neighborhoods to destinations not reachable by trails.
City officials are seeking a consultant to help develop plans for six trail connections in neighborhoods throughout the city and downtown. Construction costs are estimated at $1.5 million and will be paid for with a federal grant. Proposals are due in mid-May.
Planning is underway for a trail section that would create a loop linking the Route 390 Trail, the Lake Ontario State Parkway Trail and the Genesee Riverway Trail.
Elsewhere, a trail connection linking the Susan. B. Anthony neighborhood to Troupe Street Park should be built this fall.
Nearly 50 additional on-street miles are in various stages of design and approval to be completed over the next three years. The city has increased the number of bike racks in the community by roughly 100 over the past couple years, is working with the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority to include bike lockers and a bike-repair stand with the new transit center much like at the Sister Cities parking garage.
Now, city officials say, bicycles are a consideration in all street and other applicable construction projects. “The city is really taking a big step in the right direction,” Kennedy said. “We have a long way to go. But I think that the heart is in the right place.”
Guidebook to Rochester’s bike trails “Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Rochester NY Area.”