Monday, September 12, 2011

Bicycling in our Rochester streets for our environment


On a recent trip to Toronto for the Toronto Film Festival (TFF), I was amazed at the number of folks on bicycles riding in the streets. Perhaps, it’s a glimpse of what Rochester, NY’ transportation might look like some day. I saw thousands of bicycles in bike racks at stores, restaurants, businesses, and more. The bicyclers moved along with the vehicular traffic effortlessly and without a whole lot of street markings. Everyone (during the short time I was there) just followed the traffic laws and signs (all the cross-walks used count-down lights so you know how long you have to cross the streets). I also observed that most (I did see one soul barreling up the wrong side of the road) followed the bike/vehicle laws.

My impression was that with a relatively small financial investment and a minimal amount of retrofitting the very busy streets of Toronto were able to quickly accommodate a sizeable bicycling traffic. I suspect in the background there were some serious attitude changes, but in the end…, it works. You can really get around the businesses part of Toronto on bicycle and not pollute the planet with greenhouse gases.

One of the goals in the Greentopia Moving Planet Bike the Bridges Self-Guided Bike Ride coming up this weekend between 9AM and 10:30AM is to demonstrate that Rochesterians believe that we too can use bicycles as viable component of our transportation. The change doesn’t have to be one that radically changes our present streets system, but a radical change in our attitudes can move more bicyclists into our streets, where with more visibility they will be safer than present. Making more folks aware of traffic safety, more aware of bicycles as part of our transportation system, and more considerate of those choosing, for one reason or another, to bike to their short destinations (under six miles) can really make a difference in our environment and our urban setting. We hope to see you at the ride.

One of the new documentaries at the film festival was “Urbanized” ( TIFF: Shedding Light on "Urbanized." - Blog - The Film Experience) mentioned that 50% of the world’s population lives in an urban setting and by 2050 the figure will be 75%. We are going to be rapidly filling our streets with those going from one place to the next and they’ll have do it all without raising our planet’s temperature. And, we cannot wait to address this because it’s happening now:

Yale Environment 360: Second-Warmest U.S. Summer Recorded in 2011, Federal Agency Says “U.S. scientists say the summer of 2011 was the nation’s second-warmest on record, with an average temperature of 74.5 degrees F from June through August — about 2.4 degrees higher than long-term averages — and with four states setting new summer records. Heat conditions were particularly blistering during August, with an average temperature of 75.7 degrees F, about 3 degrees warmer than the average between 1901 and 2000, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).” September 9, 2011 Yale Environment 360: Opinion, Analysis, Reporting & Debate

How did Toronto, a very northern city with more snow and cold than Rochester, NY, come to infuse bicycling into their traffic while we have not so much? I’m not sure; every community has their own intellectual and emotional climate. Let this short bike ride be that change in our region’s attitude towards bicycling as transportation: Greentopia Moving Planet Bike the Bridges Self-Guided Bike Ride

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