Active Transportation serves an important access and mobility role for bicyclists and pedestrian modes of transportation. It serves both utilitarian and recreational needs on a stand-alone basis or as a component of a multi-modal trip in combination with a primary vehicular or transit trip. Based on extensive input from the community and feedback from technical staff, and recent public consultation effort during the Rochester Area Comprehensive Plan and Long-Range Transportation Planning 2045, the problems and issues were identified for the Active Transportation Planning component of ROCOG 2045 Long Range Plan.
Active Transportation section of the LRTP includes discussion of policies to address not only the infrastructure and engineering issues/problems but also talks about the access and mobility needs of Environmental Justice populations and preservation of the system for all residents including minority populations generally overlooked during the planning process. Following facility plans for Active Transportation are recognized and recommended to guide non-motorized development as part of the ROCOG Long Range Plan 2045:
- Preliminary System Plan for Regional Network
- Preliminary System Plan Urban Area Network
- Preliminary System Plan for Pedestrian Network
Additional Open House and community outreach efforts are underway to further refine already developed preliminary network plans and urban and regional active transportation planning project. The draft information is shared with various advisory committees including ROCOG Transportation Technical Advisory Committee, ROCOG Board, Rochester City Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee and various other agencies in Olmsted County.
Rochester Bicycle Friendly Community
ROCOG staff and Rochester City Public Works Department staff applied for Bicycle Friendly community designation and worked closely with the League of American Bicyclists to earn recognition for Rochester as one of the first few Bicycle Friendly Communities in Minnesota. Rochester was first time designated as a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community in 2010 and was re-designated in 2014 as a bicycle friendly community for the next four years.
The League of American Bicyclists is a non-profit organization that works nationally and with local communities, universities, businesses and states to promote bicycling for recreation and fitness as well as a mode of transportation for routine day to day trips. Designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community is awarded based on an assessment of local actions including development of on and off-street bicycle facilities as well as local programs and services that support safe and convenient bicycle travel. Rochester is striving to improve the non-motorized facilities for its residents and improving conditions for bicycling as noted in the League's feedback and Report Card on the Bicycle Friendly Community application submitted by Rochester. Among the factors the League of American Bicyclists highlighted to improve the non-motorized facilities included:
- Continue to expand the on-street bike network and to increase network connectivity;
- Ensure smooth transitions for bicyclists between the local and regional trail network, and the street network;
- Ensure that all bicycle facilities conform to current best practices and guidelines – such as the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide (preferred), 2012 AASHTO;
- On roads with posted speed limits of more than 35 mph, it is recommended to provide protected bicycle infrastructure, such as cycle tracks, buffered bike lanes or parallel 10ft wide shared-use paths;
- Bicycle-safety education should be a routine part of primary and secondary education, and schools and the surrounding neighborhoods should be particularly safe and convenient for biking and walking;
- Offer bicycling skills training opportunities for adults more frequently;
- Continue to expand your public education campaign promoting the share the road message;
- Promote cycling throughout the year by offering or supporting more family- and women-oriented community and charity rides, free bike valet parking at events, and bicycle-themed festivals, parades or shows;
- Encourage more local businesses, agencies, and organizations to promote cycling to their employees and customers and to seek recognition through the Bicycle Friendly Business program;
- Encourage Rochester Community and Technical College to promote cycling to students, staff, and faculty and to seek recognition through the Bicycle Friendly University program;
- Expand efforts to evaluate bicycle crash statistics and produce a specific plan to reduce the number of crashes in the community.
Rochester Walk Friendly Community
ROCOG staff with help of Rochester City Public Works and the City Parks and Recreation staff applied for Walk Friendly Communities (WFC) designation in 2014. Rochester was designated as a Bronze-level Walk Friendly Community (WFC) in 2014 and re-designated in 2018 for the next five years. Since its inception the Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) mission has been to improve the quality of life in communities through the increase of safe walking and bicycling as a viable means of transportation and physical activity. The PBIC is maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. Rochester was designated as a Bronze level Walk Friendly Community (WFC) due to its outstanding engineering practices, extensive trail system, and commitment to improving the pedestrian environment. Among the factors the WFC program highlighted in their feedback include:
- Rochester is actively modernizing high volume pedestrian corridors with safety improvements and pedestrian amenities. Several downtown projects have been completed and studies are currently underway for enhancement under the economic development initiative "Destination Medical Center" (DMC), including "Heart of the City";
- Extensive trail network in Rochester is anchored by the Rochester River Trail System;
- Rochester City does an excellent job of including pedestrian provisions on over 80 bridges throughout Rochester;
- Downtown Master Plan and Destination Medical Center "City Loop" initiative will provide additional trail connections and intersection improvements for both pedestrian and bicyclists;
- Curb Ramp and sidewalk inventory system and ADA accessible ramps on all four corners and the sidewalks maintenance program that reviews subareas of the City on five-year cycle;
- Well established complete street policy.