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City Council postpones vote to ban cars in bike lanes

Brett Dahlberg
A Rochester City School District vehicle stands partly in a bike lane on University Avenue Tuesday morning, hours before the Rochester City Council voted to refer back to committee legislation that would have made parking in bike lanes illegal.

A City Council vote on new legislation around bike lanes in Rochester -- sparked in part by WXXI’s reporting on the subject last month -- has been sent back to committee.

The city code does not specifically ban parking a car in a bike lane, but legislation scheduled for a vote at the Council meeting Tuesday night would have made that illegal. Instead, the proposed code changes have been referred back to the council’s Parks and Public Works committee.

A WXXI News investigation found more than 200 cars parked in city bike lanes over eight weeks of a reporter's commutes and errands in March and April. City code does prohibit parking in a bike lane where No Standing, No Stopping or No Parking signs are posted, but there is no blanket ban on the practice.

In that investigation, the city also acknowledged that it had no way of tracking 311 complaints about cars parked in bike lanes, no specific parking violation code for bike lanes, and no mention of bike lanes in its training materials for parking enforcement officers.

Council member Mitch Gruber, who heads the Parks and Public Works committee, said that story led to renewed interest in strengthening the city’s bike lane enforcement.

The proposed change to the city’s bike lane law is packaged with other legal updates that would pave the way for electric scooters, but those updates are dependent on the scooters being legalized by the state Legislature. Gruber said that they're still tweaking the law.

"There have been a couple people who have brought up some really fine details that we don't have perfect. And if we have an opportunity to spend more time on it there's absolutely no rush at this moment," said Gruber. 
Gruber and bike advocates said Tuesday that there was too much uncertainty in Albany to pass the local legislation this month. They said they plan to refine the legislation and bring it up again at the next Council meeting in July.

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