Rochester’s Little Bike Highway

I’ve mentioned previously how much I just love Rochester’s new mile-long Union Street Cycle Track.  And what’s not to love?  It’s a well-marked track built specifically for cyclists on top of what used to be a below-grade expressway.

Furthermore, the stretch of reclaimed highway will soon play host to one of the hottest new neighborhoods on top of the Inner Loop Infill.

But these are just the superficial reasons The Union Street Cycle Track is a welcomed addition to the Rochester Landscape.  To truly experience the deeper appeal, you have to ride it.  And I mean ride it… time and time again.  Here are 3 reasons why this mile of  biking paradise is so important to our city.

The Bike Highway

The first thing you feel when you ride this stretch of bike track is freedom and fearlessness… if you’re a cyclist, you understand what I mean.  No matter how seasoned a rider you might be, there is always that little whisper of a thought in your head that wonders if the approaching car is going to be the one that hits you.  That might sound morbid, but it’s always there.

The cycle track removes this concern completely, and for a short distance, you feel what it’s like to have your own two-wheeled space of priority and safety.  It’s a sensation of freedom and the alleviation of fear.

Prioritization

Bike lanes are nice, they really are… but they are lines on pavement.  Every cyclist rolls their eyes as people continue to drift into your bike lane as they drive, or park in the bike lane, or drop someone off in the bike lane, or… well you get the idea.

The Union Street Cycle track is ultimate prioritization.  You have all the rights and responsibilities of cars without the need to be among them.  Sure, you have to cross roads, but it’s a very different feeling than approaching and traversing intersections while you’re biking in the road.  The only wrench in this perfect experience is the occasional pedestrian who uses the cycle track instead of the adjacent sidewalk.  For me, this is no issue, we are all just happy to have space away from fast moving car traffic.

Connectivity

The complaint I’ve heard regarding the cycle track is that it is only a mile long.  While I would love to see it extended, and see more of these dedicated bike tracks all over the city, the current incarnation, as stated above, acts as a sort of highway with “exits” to key streets and locations. Many of these perpendicular streets now feature bike lanes as well, creating a slightly safer and much more welcoming two wheeled experience.

Furthermore, in five years the area adjacent to the cycle track is slated for some of the most ambitious development projects the city has seen, featuring a tremendous amount of residential construction. The track will see even more action as this area blossoms.

The cycle track opens up the heart of downtown to two-wheeled traffic from the north and south. It is a sort of “bridge” connecting cyclists to some of Rochester’s key destinations and developments. While short, its ability to safely welcome cyclists and provide a much needed highway-style piece of central connectivity makes it a beautiful piece of bike infrastructure in Rochester.