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Monroe County seeks input for ‘people-powered transportation’ plan

Bike ride Genesee River
Max Schulte
/
WXXI News
Reconnect Rochester is leading a series of bike rides this summer where they'll show people how to navigate the city by bicycle. The first ride went from Maplewood Park to High Falls along the Genesee River.

Cyclists, pedestrians, skaters, wheelchair users, and others: Monroe County officials want to hear from you as they begin preparing a plan to make local streets and trails friendlier to human-powered forms of transportation.

In recent years, several county municipalities have put together bike- and pedestrian-focused active transportation plans — from denser inner-ring suburbs like Greece and Brighton to towns like Penfield and Chili, which are sprawling and not as built up. The county will be following in their footsteps and incorporating their plans, as well as the city’s Bicycle Master Plan and mobility plan, into its document.

“This is really the first time to get these municipalities on the same page,” said Jesse Peers, cycling manager for Reconnect Rochester, a local transportation advocacy organization. "It's the first time to reach across boundaries to promote cooperation about active transportation issues."

The active transportation plan will spell out goals and strategies to make streets and neighborhoods easier to walk, bike, hike, and run. It also will find ways to make it easier for people using wheelchairs, scooters, and strollers to get around safely and comfortably. The plan will likely make it easier for the county and its municipalities to secure funding for projects that advance those goals.

Active transportation simply means movement powered by human exertion instead of a motor: walking, pedaling, pushing, or rolling. While several communities have developed their own “people-powered transportation” plans, they've rarely looked beyond their own boundaries, said Jim Stack, executive director of the Genesee Transportation Council, which is partnering with the county on the effort.

As a result, sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, and trails in one community often are not connected to similar amenities in neighboring municipalities. In some cases, local governments have been unable to carry out bicycle- and pedestrian-oriented projects on certain streets because they are under county control.

As part of the developing plan, the county and the council will be looking for opportunities to better connect bike lanes and dedicated bike paths, multi-use trails, and sidewalks.

“There’s examples right in our own community, right in our backyard, where municipalities have worked together with adjacent municipalities,” Stack said. “It works better because the people moving about — riding a bike, walking, whatever — it doesn’t matter where the line is on a map, they’re still trying to get from Point A to Point B in a safe and efficient manner.”

Brighton and the city of Rochester partnered to build the Highland Crossing Trail, which connects the Erie Canalway Trail in Brighton with the Genesee Riverway Trail in Rochester. It passes through Highland Park.

Similarly, the city has a project in the works to connect the Route 390 Trail, which runs north-south between West Ridge Road in Greece and the Lake Ontario State Parkway, with the Genesee Riverway Trail. Greece is currently rehabbing the Route 390 Trail.

The county has scheduled two events for people to provide input for the active transportation plan:

  • From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 18, there will be a pop-up event at the Public Market, 280 N. Union St.
  • From 3 to 7 p.m. June 29, there will be a workshop at Highland Park’s Olmsted Lodge, 171 Reservoir Ave.

The county has also published a website for the developing plan, which includes similar documents from other Monroe County communities and an interactive map where people can point out trouble spots and highlight things that help them.

The county and the Genesee Transportation Council expect to wrap up the plan in summer 2023.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at jmoule@rochester-citynews.com

Jeremy Moule is a deputy editor with WXXI News. He also covers Monroe County.