Active support for bicycling at the University of Rochester got rolling in 2004, when two entrepreneurial undergraduates, Andrew Hall and Adam Baratz (’07) opened City Cycles, a free bicycle lending library providing high-quality cycling equipment and services to members of the University of Rochester community. Students and members of the Goergen Athletic Center can use their ID card to secure one of 17 bikes with helmets at the center’s front desk during regular business hours, from early Spring through late Fall. As an additional service to both renters and owners, City Cycles contracts with Towpath Bike Shop of Pittsford, to offer weekly on-campus repair and maintenance services on the Wilson Commons Quad. The City Cycles program is cited on the Student Association webpage as being among its most successful and, not surprisingly, the Eastman School of Music community has now begun to explore extending the service to their campus.
The university took other big steps toward becoming an “active transportation” campus in 2010-2011, expanding services for cyclers and partnering in city-wide initiatives. This summer the Medical Center's parking office begins offering a permit for a new, weather-protected bike cage. Located on the ground level of the hospital’s ramp garage, the new bike cage is fully enclosed by galvanized steel chain-link walls and an ID badge swipe-access padlock. Only purchasers of the bike cage permit ($40) will have badges activated to open the lock. In addition to cage access, bicycle permit holders will have the option to upgrade their permit to include shower privileges and a reserved locker at URMC’s Fitness & Wellness Center. This enhanced cage permit with locker/shower access costs $88 per year. On the River Campus, the pathway connecting campus to the Leigh Valley Trail at the south end of Intercampus Drive has been improved to provide a safe, convenient link from Park Lot South to the trail.
Just as significant for Rochester’s cycling future, university leaders have been deeply involved in community-wide master bicycling planning, and individuals working at the university are playing key leadership roles in local bicycling advocacy groups.
Throughout 2010 Richard Pifer, Vice President for Facilities & Services, and URMC’s Dr. Scott MacRae, served with representatives from the New York State Department of Transportation, the City of Rochester, Monroe County, the Genesee Transportation Council, the Rochester Cycling Alliance and community members at large on a planning advisory committee convened by the City’s Department of Environmental Services, to assist in developing its master bicycling plan. A top priority of the plan is to convert existing streets to bicycle friendly transportation corridors and then connect them to the existing off-street trail system, to forge a biking transportation network across the region as a whole. The University and medical center is at the top of the list of “high demand destinations” within the network. Enhancement of the University’s link to downtown Rochester is already underway, incorporating the railroad bridge over the Genesee near Intercampus and Wilson into the trail system, to provide a link to the existing rail on the river’s west side. Work began in June and is scheduled for completion this fall.
Dr. MacCrae and Glen Cerosaletti, Director of the College’s Rochester Center for Community Leadership, play critical, ongoing leadership roles in developing the community’s cycling capacity as members of the Board of Directors of the Rochester Cycling Alliance, the city’s most prominent biking advocacy group. The Alliance promotes bicycle use, fosters development of cycling roads and trails, facilitates information exchange on bicycle safety and cycling in general, provides input on legislation affecting cycling, and is a public voice for the interests of cyclists. Dr. MacRae has also been named to represent the University on Brighton’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan Task Force, as our neighbors in Brighton explore opportunities to improve the pedestrian and cycling experience there. We can look forward to continuing collaboration in support of Rochester area cycling---to being in the conversation and at the planning table---as our campus and our region evolves toward a bicycle friendly, active transportation environment. For more information on other University of Rochester programs in green transportation visit: www.facilities.rochester.edu/sustainability/transportation.shtml.