Rochester Residents, Left Out of Transpo Bill Hearing, Create Their Own

As we’ve been reporting on Streetsblog Capitol Hill, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has been touring the country gathering suggestions about the reauthorization of the six-year transportation bill. And as we’ve reported, congressional representatives are hearing a lot from state transportation officials, who tend to be decidedly highway-centric.

When Rochester area residents learned they wouldn't be able to address congressional leaders at a local hearing about the next national transportation bill, they organized their own forum. Photo: Tri-State Transportation Campaign

So kudos go out to the folks in Rochester, NY for taking matters into their own hands. After local transportation groups learned that only a few select people would be invited to share their concerns with representatives, they organized a separate town-hall meeting where anyone’s ideas were accepted. The event turned out to be all the more necessary, since the Rochester field hearing had to be postponed because of a scheduled vote in Congress.

Ya-Ting Liu at Mobilizing the Region has this account from the event:

Over 30 people from the Rochester area attended, including bus riders, cyclists, and representatives of community-based organizations, transportation advocacy groups, unions, and advocates for the aging and disabled.

Among the challenges identified by Rochester residents on Thursday were a lack of affordable transportation options, insufficient access to safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, poor planning by the Rochester Genessee Regional Transit Authority, not enough public participation and accountability in the transportation planning process, and a lack of responsiveness from local politicians and transportation agency heads.

Addressing congressional leaders, Liu made these comments:

We are the end users of transportation bills, plans and projects. We have to live with the consequences of decisions made about the built environment, often without much public input.  We hope Chairman Mica and NY members of Congress will consider the experience of community groups and users of the transportation system as they deliberate the next federal transportation bill.

Let’s hope that message reaches its target.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike Portland calculates the total cost savings to the region from the recent decline in traffic injuries and fatalities. The Dirt relays a message from Jaime Lerner, the mayor of Curitiba, Brazil famous for developing the world’s first bus rapid transit system, who says that cities are the solution to climate change. And The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia reports that Philly was one of 10 “Smart Cities” honored by the NRDC for progressive transportation planning.