Saturday, March 6, 2010

Breaking With Tradition Again

Almost two years ago to the day I threw the usually regimented format of this blog in the trash temporarily in order to riff aimlessly like a latter-day Andy Rooney on topics ranging from to the utility of the still operational Midtown Plaza. I'd like to do the same today with a rare Saturday post as I have a lot of short bursts (all pertaining to Rochester) to relate.

I'll start by saying I've finally succumbed and been sucked into the black hole of Facebook. As we all know, the Internet is serious business. Mike Governale of has begun an action group soon to be known publicly as Reconnect Rochester. The people behind it are part of the Reconnecting Rochester Facebook group. If you the reader are interested in assisting our advocacy of a return to layered multi-modal transportation options, please apply for admission (have your SAT scores handy?) to our band of merry urbanists.

Two more blurbs while on the topic. First, the City will be holding the first public meeting regarding a Center City Circulator Feasibility Study. It is being billed as a reassessment of the downtown parking situation and consideration of a circulator transit service. While the project page does not explicitly state so, a streetcar will be considered. I have in my possession documentation from RGRTA requesting $1M for their own feasibility study and alternatives analysis to "assess the opportunities, benefits, and impacts that the investment in a center-city fixed guideway circulator system would have on the center city area and the entire region." Time and place details for the meeting are as follows:

  • March 22nd, 2010 - 4:00PM - 6:00PM
  • Kate Gleason Auditorium - Rundel Library (Bausch & Lomb side)

Secondly, I have completed my Main Street Streetcar in RTS livery drawing. I want to take a second and pitch for the Memorial Art Gallery's Creative Workshop where I received the training to do something like this at a very reasonable monetary rate. I'd recommend their beginning drawing and sketchbook classes for anyone looking to develop drawing skills, especially perspective, in order to sketch the built environment.

Moving right along regarding streetcars and transit, the following are projects in the pipeline that the city's official transportation planner, Erik Frisch, announced in the comments at A Town Square:

  • Inner Loop East - Phase I, Monroe Avenue to Charlotte Street
  • The city's first Bicycle Master Plan
  • The aforementioned Circulator Study
  • Narrowing and restoring two-way traffic to major downtown streets
  • Artwalk 2 - University Avenue from Goodman to Union
I would love the opportunity to transcribe an interview with Mr. Frisch in this space as he seems to be projecting a positive official platform from the city planning department. It appears that the right conversations are about to take place.

On Friday night, my wife and I ate dinner at Captain Jim's on Main near Winton. Afterward, we boarded the 8 - East Main toward downtown. During a brief layover at the RTS Headquarters, something caught my eye. RTS is testing out an electronic real-time arrival notifier. We returned this afternoon to take the photo to the right. Unfortunately the photo makes it look non-functional, this is due to the minimal exposure of our digital camera and the refresh rate of the LED display. What it actually said was:

8B - Gen Pk Blvd/Strong Loop 12:47
Mar 6, 2010 12:20

This is a fairly attractive feature that would be an excellent addition to downtown shelters. I appreciate it as a marketing device in the present. Its scalability over a widespread area is questionable as there are just too many bus stops, almost none of which on land owned by or leased by the authority. It is also not inherently sustainable energy-wise, but I'd imagine 'riders of choice' will not need to be 'convinced' to utilize transit in the event of a terminal energy crunch.

Largely unrelated to anything else, I'd like to give some credit to Providence Housing as possibly the only area homebuilder building the classic double. A family of obviously newer South Scranton-style doubles line Brown Street between Terry and Wentworth. Their work in the Plymouth-Exchange neighborhood just off the ass of Corn Hill is also exemplary. In addition to good homebuilding that properly treats the city street, they must retain planners who understand the importance of street connectivity.

In the place of standard issue 1960's housing projects, Providence has run Champlain Street all the way through to Ford and built Carlson Commons in and around the area (also creating Lunsford Lane and Correta Scott Crossing). Their Plymouth Manor Townhouses accomplish the same thing just a couple of blocks south where Edith Street was allowed to carve up a former project superblock and connect with Doran.

Finally, I'd like thank the burgeoning readership of this blog for taking the time to keep coming back and reading my opinionated analysis. And I'd also like to thank those of you visting for the first time who might be relatively new to the urbanist movement. Traffic is up week-over-week since early January resulting in an 89.8% increase in pageviews in February as compared with the same month in 2009. Again, thank you all for reading and livening up the discussion with your comments!

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