Some roads in the City of Rochester, due to their design or the amount of traffic they get, are just not accommodating to cyclists.
Cyclists tend to avoid them, even though the routes often connect important destinations, such as neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and parks.
To get around that problem, city planners have turned to bicycle boulevards. In simple terms, the boulevards are alternate routes that parallel a larger thoroughfare. They use secondary and neighborhood streets, so cyclists feel more at ease.
City planners are testing two potential routes, which are currently identified with temporary signs and pavement markings. One route cuts through the 19th Ward, linking Genesee Park Boulevard to the intersection of Frost and Rugby avenues.
The second route is largely in the South Wedge and links the Genesee River Trail at Averill Avenue to the intersection of Meigs Street and Monroe Avenue.
The South Wedge bike boulevard provides a route around a tight and heavily-traveled section of South Goodman Street. And the 19th Ward route could eventually link up with other bike boulevards that connect with the Brooks-Chili corridor, for example, and Genesee Valley Park.
The city has also developed a draft plan that lays out 50 miles of potential bicycle boulevards throughout Rochester. Erik Frisch, city transportation specialist, says that the plan should be finished in December, and that the city could start establishing permanent routes next year. Frisch says that the city's ultimate goal is to provide a network of boulevards.
Bike boulevards don't require substantial infrastructure and in many cases, signs and pavement markings are sufficient. To make the test routes permanent, the city would replace the corrugated plastic signs with metal ones, and spray-chalk markings would be replaced with durable markings.
Some of the roads, particularly neighborhood streets, would also receive traffic calming improvements. For example, the city may install bump-outs on some streets, Frisch says. And the speed cushions — rubber speed bumps with cut-outs for cyclists to pass through — that have been temporarily installed on the test routes would be replaced with permanent cushions.
The presence and type of traffic calming features typically depend on neighborhood input, says Collin Hodges, a planner with Alta Planning + Design, the city's consultant on the bike boulevard projects. The projects provide a double benefit to neighborhoods, he says, by improving bikeability and addressing traffic problems.
"They are some of the cheaper accommodations for cyclists," Hodges says.
The city is accepting input on the two pilot routes through October 10. Comments: Erik Frisch, firstname.lastname@example.org.