You’ve been hearing a lot about Pittsford’s Active Transportation Plan. The Village and Town have been working together on this Active Transportation Plan since 2014. The first public input session was held in December 2015 at the Pittsford Community Library. There was a community online survey conducted last spring, a village and town bus and walking tour last year and several more community input sessions throughout 2016 and 2017. The village held the most recent session last Saturday at Village Hall.
Wait. What’s an Active Transportation Plan?
It really should be called a “Plan to Make The Streets in Our Community Safer/Better/More Convenient for Biking, Walking, Rolling, Skateboarding, Skipping and Taking Mass Transit.” But that would be too long to put on a title page.
“Active transportation” refers to human-powered transportation – walking, cycling, using a wheelchair, skiing, skating, etc. Although the walk to your car is active transportation, driving your car is not (unless you are Fred Flintstone).
So back to Pittsford’s Active Transportation Plan…
The Village has been a leader in efforts to make its streets safe for pedestrians and cyclists long before it was cool to do so and before walkability entered the household vernacular. Despite its best efforts, its main streets and corridors suffered from widened roads in the 1980s, sprawl beyond the village and the prevailing “traffic/cars first” mentality that took over the country in previous decades. But it also had many victories that contributed to the quality of daily life here:
- preventing Monroe Ave and Jefferson Road from becoming 5 lane speedways
- keeping Sutherland High School in its current location
- keeping the community library in the village and with a pedestrian-friendly design oriented to the street (not the parking lot)
- maintaining its historic character
- revitalization of Schoen Place
- and a plan to remodel its community center rather than building something new out where there is little bike and pedestrian infrastructure to get there
Had Monroe Avenue or Jefferson Road become widened through the Village, that lovely heart of the village would have been a goner. It’s already pretty crazy, because of speeding traffic, but it would have made the village a highway bypass ghost town. It would be like what 5 & 20 have done to so many communities in the Finger Lakes. Our four corners would be another Pittsford Plaza corridor (no offense to Pittsford Plaza, but I wouldn’t want to live there; and it’s certainly not a friendly place for pedestrians and cyclists).
The Village’s 2002 Comprehensive Plan addressed the need to calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety. The Village developed a Pedestrian Safety & Traffic Calming Plan in 2005, conducted a Monroe Avenue Corridor Traffic Study in 2010, drafted an Erie Canal Area Master Plan in 2010 and has recently been working to reduce the speed limit on its streets to 25mph.
The Village adopted a Complete Streets Policy in 2011. There are only two municipalities in our area that have adopted a complete streets policy — The City of Rochester and the Village of Pittsford. These policies state that any new roadways or modifications to existing ones should be “planned and designed to consider the safe, convenient access and mobility of all roadway users of all ages and abilities. This includes pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders, and motorists; it includes children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.”
So while other places were still widening roads, sprawling and making traffic heavier and faster, I am grateful to the leadership and village residents for not allowing our village to get leveled by steamrollers. The walkability of our village is one of the main reasons many of us choose to live and visit here.
This recent joint town and village Active Transportation Plan is notable. It is the first time that the town too is actively involved in making not only the village at its town center safer for pedestrians and cyclists, but other areas, as well. The town and village are currently also finishing up an updated joint Comprehensive Plan, which provides the overall vision for Pittsford (zoning, greenspace, land use, etc).
Keep in mind that everything recommended in the Active Transportation Plan won’t and can’t happen at once. Some things can happen immediately, while others will require funds and various approvals, etc. The mayor says it may take up to 15 years to completely roll out all the design changes in the plan. But the Active Transportation Plan and the Comprehensive Plan are the collective guiding force for everything that happens next. When a road gets resurfaced or a new development is proposed, these plans dictate what should happen.
As the Active Transportation Plan draft becomes publicly available, we will highlight some of the trouble spots and proposed recommendations for both biking and walking. It will be a big plan, so hopefully we can help make it easier to wade through.
In the meantime, you can take a peek at the Town’s Active Transportation Plan pages to see the billboards you see in the picture above, as well as the timeline of public involvement and input sessions.
Have questions about the Active Transportation Plan or pedestrian safety and biking issues? Leave us a comment.