Plungers can make one heck of a point if used creatively.
And so they did on Exchange Boulevard, where sometime before daybreak last Thursday someone stuck a bunch of them on the outer edges of the bike lanes on either side of the road. The handles were wrapped in reflective material, and they essentially became bollards for a de facto protected bike lane.
But by the end of Thursday, vehicles had thrashed the makeshift guards on one side of the road and punched a few holes in the barrier on the other side of the road. In other words, the offending drivers helped bolster the case for sanctioned, well-made buffers on Rochester's bike lanes. And that was likely the point. (Nobody has claimed responsibility.)
Many Rochester bike advocates have asked the city to increase the number of protected bike lanes on its streets. They say the barriers would help make cyclists – including users of the city's new bike-share system – feel safer and would boost ridership.
Scott Wagner, a Corn Hill resident, bike commuter, and member of the Rochester Cycling Alliance, says he saw the Exchange Street "demonstration project" on his way into work that morning and was grateful for it.
The bike lanes were added several years ago when the city converted a section of Exchange from four lanes to two. The changes were meant to attack a speeding problem on the wide, pin-straight road, Wagner says. But vehicles still travel well in excess of the posted 30 mph speed limit.
The ghosts of the old dotted vehicle lane lines are still on the road, too. That creates a bit of confusion for drivers, who occasionally veer into or drive in the bike lane.