Discussing Rochester's bike lane problem, and the benefits of active transportation
Rochester has a bike lane problem. That’s according to research and reporting done by WXXI’s health reporter, Brett Dahlberg. He spent eight weeks recording video and studying issues related to Rochester’s more than 60 miles of bike lanes. He found the lanes are often filled with parked cars and there’s little cyclists can do about it.
What does this mean for a city working to expand travel to and from work by bike? Dahlberg joins us to discuss his reporting, along with the health benefits of commuting by bike or on foot. This conversation comes in advance of an upcoming summit on active transportation hosted by Common Ground Health. Our guests:
First, there was a Streetcar Named Desire; now there is a question about whether Rochester has a desire for a streetcar. A new film called “The Trolley” is coming to the Little Theatre as part of Reconnect Rochester’s Rochester Street Films series. It tells the story of trolleys as shapers of our urban environments; it describes their disappearance; and finally, it calls for their return to prominence in the American future.
But is that realistic? What impact would that have? Our guests are ready to talk about how we get around:
Howard Decker, author, architect, urbanist, and member of Reconnect Rochester's Advisory Council
Carlos Mercado, rail advocate and member of Reconnect Rochester's Advisory Council
The suburbs are often left out of conversations about modernizing transportation systems and environmental goals. But as City Lab recently pointed out, more than half of all Americans live in suburbs, and the burbs are here to stay.
So what are the options for making suburbs more suitable to multimodal options and green goals? Our guests debate it. In studio:
Guitarist Lawrence Johnson recorded the complete works of early-nineteenth century composer Fernando Sor – using equipment that the guitarist got in a trade for a Volkswagen. He recalls, "I found out this guy and this girl, they were married – and he decided he didn’t like her anymore and he left her and took her car. But he was also a recording nut, and so he had this Revox 77. So I said: I got a car if you want it, but I need that Revox 77. So, I got it."
We talk about the future of transit, and if we'll see a carless future. Some say cars are on the way out - they aren't environmentally friendly or economical. Others say that's a ways away - we're not connected enough as communities to rely on bikes and public transit.
We talk to people who have made the switch from cars to bikes, and people who've switched back from bikes to cars about how transit works for them. In studio:
Would you ride in a driverless car? GM says its driverless car could be in fleets by next year. But some polls show Americans are still skeptical about the idea of this technology. Are driverless cars safe? Who would be liable in an accident? Advocates of driverless cars say they could benefit the environment and improve everyday lifestyles.
We talk about our future as drivers…or riders. Our guests:
Upstate transit leaders call for more funding, more options
Leaders in Upstate New York say they need more attention – and more funding – to bolster transit options. For most cities that are not New York City, that means bus lines. RTS chief Bill Carpenter says the money has remained steady, but the needs have increased, and Rochesterians want better options. So what could RTS do with a big increase in funding? What should they do? And what about other cities that are considering not just buses, but other ideas?
Finding a balance between all modes of transportation
Are urbanists trying to push cars out of American cities? A recent piece in The Urban Phoenix, which was created by a Rochesterian, argues that cars will always be king in this country, but we need to strike a much better balance. The piece was hailed by urbanists and mocked by some who saw it as an attack on the automobile.
So what does a balanced mode of transportation truly look like, and are we close to achieving it? Our guests:
For some, traveling throughout Rochester using anything but a car is unthinkable. For others, it’s a necessity, a way of life or a hope. According to national surveys and studies, including one from the Brookings Institution, people want more walkable cities in the US. In addition, Brookings found more than half of millennials surveyed want to live places where they don’t need access to a car.
Examining transportation and mobility issues is the focus of a film series called Rochester Street Films. The first event in the series this year takes place on March 15 with a focus on: “Moving Beyond the Automobile.” On this edition of Need to Know, leaders from the non-profit Reconnect Rochester (producer of Rochester Street Films) and filmmakers involved in the educational movie series discuss their short films and the work needed to create a community connecting all people through a robust transportation network.