Bicycle proposal adds 50 miles of routes, 60 safer crossings
Named a Bicycle Friendly Community in 2010 by the League of American Bicyclists, Rochester built on its record in recent years, adding 16 miles of new lanes, trails and on-road routes for two-wheeled travelers.
Still more is to come during the next quarter-century, including a safe crossing over or under North Broadway near Silver Lake, a trail connection to Chester Woods Park, and a new path south along 11th Avenue Southwest to the Willow Creek reservoir.
Those projects are among 50 miles of new routes and more than 60 safer street crossings proposed in an area Bicycle Master Plan, presented to the city council this week.
The plan, funded by the state and U.S. Health Departments and prepared by the city-county Planning Department with public involvement over the last three years, found that bike-route "gaps" remain the biggest impediment to getting more travelers to use their bikes rather than cars for local trips.
Those gaps persist despite recent additions, including bike lanes on West River Road, West Silver Lake Drive, 41st Street Northwest and 12th Street Southeast; and a new, 2,000-foot pedestrian bridge spanning U.S. 14 West and Seventh Street Northwest.
"As they (the lanes and paths) get connected to more complete routes, I think you'll see more usage," said council member Michael Wojcik, himself an active cyclist. "Like having the first telephone, it's not very useful."
Among the imminent construction projects is a new trail paralleling Valleyhigh Drive, from the Seventh Street bridge to the Douglas Trail trailhead — something that will, in effect, link northwest Rochester neighborhoods on a safe corridor to downtown, said Muhammad Khan, senior transportation planner in the Planning Department.
Another near-term project calls for extending bike paths south along East Circle Drive from Viola Road past Quarry Hill Park to University Center-Rochester, Khan said.
If adopted next month by the city council, the Bicycle Master Plan will join other plans and policies, including Complete Streets and the Downtown Master Plan, that emphasize replacing local car trips with other forms of transportation, including buses, bikes and walking.
The Downtown Master Plan, for example, proposes reducing car-based commuter traffic from 70 percent of the current total to 50 percent in 2030. Bicycle-based commuting is projected to double during that time.
That means the city will invest more money in bike-related infrastructure. Total transportation investment in the Rochester area is projected to be about $1.3 billion during the next 25 to 30 years.
Setting aside 2.5 percent of that sum yields $33 million, money that the plan proposes using for the bicycle network.