Organizations join together in pursuit of a multimodal community 

With an emphasis on a “people first” transportation philosophy, Reconnect Rochester and the Rochester Cycling Alliance plan to merge operations.

Founded in 2009, Reconnect Rochester is a community advocacy group focused on making Rochester a city that is easily navigated, whether you’re in a car, on a bike or on foot. To do that, the organization rallies for full bike lanes, better public transit and well maintained sidewalks. The Rochester Cycling Alliance, meanwhile, advocates for bike-first policy, programs and education.

“We’re sort of making official what’s been unofficial for years,” said Renée Stetzer, board president of Reconnect Rochester. “Our missions were intrinsically linked in this vision of a more multimodal community, one that offers options for how we get around, and one that puts people first.”

Since completing a bicycle master plan in 2011, the City of Rochester has made some notable strides forward, including the launch of the Zagster Bike Share — now known as Pace — in 2017 and the addition of about 60 miles of bike lanes as of 2018, according to the City’s Comprehensive Access and Mobility Plan. But the city and the local cycling community still have plenty for work to do. Places for Bikes, which ranks US cities on their bike-friendliness, gave Rochester 2.6 out of five stars in 2019, citing a relatively high ranking of 3.5 for acceleration of infrastructure, but a dismal 1.7 and 1.4 for safety and cycling network, respectively.

“I think we’re living with a legacy, that happened all across the country, of putting cars above people,” Stetzer said. “I’m not anti-car, I drive too, but it’s just about putting the car in the right place.”

Rochester’s cycling infrastructure is still growing. For example, on Tuesday, December 17, Rochester City Council is expected to vote on the second phase of Mt. Hope Avenue improvements, which includes the addition of bike racks and other amenities between Rossiter and Westfall roads, along with other streetscape improvements, such as parking bump-outs.

Stetzer said Rochester still has a lot left to do before it’ll be a full multimodal community and Jesse Peers, Reconnect Rochester’s Cycling Coordinator, said the two groups together we’ll be poised to accomplish more.

“We’re better together,” Peers said, in a statement. “The youthful energy and creativity within Reconnect’s organization, and the decades of experience in advocacy work that RCA members bring to the fore, is the perfect combination.”

Gino Fanelli is CITY's staff writer. He can be reached at [email protected].

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