News10NBC Investigates: City is building dedicated bike lanes, but there are gaps in the system

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The City of Rochester is trying to make it safer for people to bike and walk, but watch as we show the gaps in the system.

To be fair, this plan is relatively new and it takes a lot of money that the federal government controls and which a lot of cities are requesting. The goal is a seamless map of dedicated bike lanes from one side of the city to the other.

It’s already started on East Main Street. But when we attached cameras to a car and bike, we found the lane comes to a dead end.

“So this feels real safe for me and is comfortable to bike on and I love going down here,” said Steve Roll as he cycled on the dedicated bike lane on East Main Street, between Culver Road and Goodman St.

When the city rebuilt this section of Main Street, it included a dedicated bike lane, protected from the street. We hooked up cameras on Roll’s bike and cameras in our car.

“What’s your level of safety now? How do you feel?” I asked from the news car I was driving on East Main Street.

“I feel great because I’ve got good protection with the grass and the curb, and I’m riding right next to the sidewalk here,” Roll said from the bike lane beside me.

The city’s Active Transportation Plan calls for a connected spine of bike lanes. But right now there are gaps in the system. For example, when East Main hits Goodman Street, the dedicated bike lane ends.

“Right here, this is where it gets a little tricky because I’m pushed back out into the traffic and I have to drive right next to traffic,” Roll said as he merged onto Main Street.

Brean: “Your level of comfort right now compared to what it was is what?”

Roll: “It’s pretty low. I mean I’m a pretty confident biker now, but I don’t feel very comfortable riding on here and I try to avoid it as much as I can.”

Rich Perrin is the commissioner of public works for the city.

Brean: “What’s it going to take and how long is it going to take to get the city connected to dedicated bike lanes like that?”

Perrin: “Our plan is dependant on funding to begin to build this out. Now we did make an application upon which we’re still waiting from the federal government.”

A correction to the initial story. An extension of a dedicated bike path on E. Main towards downtown and west to Bulls Head (Genesee Street) is not connected to the Inner Loop North project which is in a two year design phase.

But the redevelopment of E. Main west of Goodman St. is “going to be something that will also be considered as part of Inner Loop North which is where the connection will come from Union St. on,” Perrin said. This isn’t just a joy ride.

One in four households in Rochester don’t have access to a car. On average, 17 people are killed in accidents and crashes in Rochester every year. Between 2017 and 2021, five peolpe were killed when they were hit riding a bicycle.

And for Steve Roll, he has epilepsy and for periods of time he can’t drive a car.

“And so after that seizure I got a bus pass, and I bought a bike, and I use those to get around,” he said. “And not having a protected and safe network of protected bike lanes was certainly a challenge.”