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Phantom bike lane barriers in Rochester

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Bryan Agnello
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Bicycle enthusiasts are responding to the placement of toilet plungers on some city streets to remind motorists not to drive or park on designated bike lanes.

"I've talked with the cycling community, and either people are hiding the fact that they did it, or they literally don't know, but I'm still scratching my head, but if I knew who it was I'd buy them a beer," said Jesse Peers, a certified cycling instructor and volunteer with the Rochester Cycling Alliance.

The plungers are wrapped in reflective tape and have been spotted along Saint Paul Street near the transit center.

Peers says he supports the idea because motorists who park or drive in bicycle lanes are putting cyclists at risk.

"Many people are just scared, they're intimidated to share the streets with cars, so that's when the bike lanes come in that should be buffered, because if that happened we'd have a lot more people bicycling," he said.

It is illegal to park or drive in a designated bike lane.

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Peers is advocating for more separated lanes for bikers in Rochester.

City spokesman Patrick Flanagan tells WXXI that the lanes on North Chestnut Street between Main and University are already seasonally-protected by delineators, and this same treatment will be added to the Broad Street Bridge beginning next year.

He says Lake Avenue in the vicinity of the cemeteries has one-way protected bike lanes, which is the first example of that type of infrastructure in the city.

And the Inner Loop East project will soon unveil Rochester's first two-way cycle track along Union and Howell streets, and this same treatment will be built on Elmwood Avenue between Wilson Blvd and Mt Hope Ave next year.

Patrick adds that installing makeshift barriers may be well-intentioned but can have unintended consequences for safety.