Yesterday, I saw some images on Twitter showing the start of protected bike lanes on one of our city’s major thoroughfares, Broad Street. Excited to see for myself, I hopped on my bike and headed for downtown.
And there it was, a glorious strip of “Kermit-Green,” probably visible from space, separated from traffic by white, reflective barriers. In fact, the crew was still there, painting the green carpet of asphalt.After flying across the Broad Street bridge a few times in the newly-painted cycle paths, I biked a short distance to the corner of Howell Street and Monroe near the famed Strong Museum of Play. From there I started on another glorious new piece of cycling infrastructure, a dedicated bike path that follows Howell and Union Streets in the area adjacent to the Inner Loop East infill project. This former sunken highway, now raised to street level, will soon play host to new development and literally welcome a new dimension to the city that simply didn’t exist a few years ago.
The bike path through this area not only connects several major streets (Monroe, East and Main) but it does so by giving cyclists and pedestrians a safe, easy and enjoyable experience.
Finally, I rode over to Main Street to see the progress on the downtown “road diet,” or the shrinking of the street from 4 lanes to 2. Much to my surprise, the bike lanes had just been painted.Where I feared biking on this strip of road for years, I suddenly felt like I had the space to safely ride with traffic. While not protected with barriers, I could feel that the traffic was slower moving around me (due to the lane diet) and it was somewhat comforting knowing I had dedicated space in which to ride. The feel was completely different and tremendously satisfying.
The most important thing? In one day, I change my perspective on the direction our city is taking. These pedestrian and cycling amenities suddenly open the city up to a wealth of ways to move about it, and I could not be happier. I posted pictures on Twitter and Facebook, which received a collective roar from Rochester residents who were excited to see the progress that will bring a new level of connectivity, livability and vibrancy to our downtown. Furthermore, many studies show that these amenities spur local business culture and lead to a better overall perception of a city.
Bravo Rochester, this is a sustainable, incremental addition that will lead our city into a new generation of progress.