Reconnect Rochester and Rochester Cycling Alliance, two groups that work to promote transportation alternatives in Monroe County, announced last week that they are combining their operations. Together, the two groups will continue striving to create a transportation network that allows all people — regardless of age, ability, income and mode of transportation — to get around safely in the Rochester region.
Reconnect Rochester was founded in 2009 by a group of ordinary citizens who saw a need to create a more multi-modal and robust transportation network that prioritizes people, regardless of their mode of transportation. Over the last decade, the organization has rallied and engaged the community and local leadership to create more robust public transportation, more complete streets, and better, safer transportation alternatives for all.
The Rochester Cycling Alliance (RCA) began in the summer of 2008 with the goal of uniting local bicycling advocates, enthusiasts and organizations to provide a public voice for all cyclists. RCA has promoted the use of bicycles as transportation, sport, recreation and health. It advocates for improved cycling infrastructure, education, programs and legislation. It strives to encourage more people to ride, and local governments to provide more complete streets to allow them to safely do so.
A shared vision of a more multi-modal region was at the heart of the decision for the two organizations to join together. Reconnect Rochester will be the umbrella 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. The newly blended organization welcomed Jesse Peers as Cycling Coordinator this summer. He joined Director of Planning & Development, Mary Staropoli, as part of a growing staff team. Bill Collins, Brendan Ryan and Susan Levin joined Reconnect Rochester’s board of directors as representatives of the RCA, whose membership will continue their bike advocacy efforts as a work group of the larger organization. Reconnect Rochester’s other active work groups will continue to concentrate on furthering bus system innovation, rail transit, and pedestrian safety.
“People tend to attach themselves to their vehicle of choice, but it’s not about bike people versus bus people versus car people,” says Mike Governale, founder of Reconnect Rochester. “Our hope is that by bringing the groups together, we can begin to break down ‘mode silos’ and encourage the community to view transportation options as an interconnected system.”
Dr. Scott MacRae, Immediate Past President of RCA said, “Under the leadership of the late RCA co-founder and past president Richard DeSarra, the RCA has been instrumental in helping create bicycle/pedestrian master plans in the City of Rochester and the multiple surrounding municipalities and expanding bike lanes and infrastructure to keep moving us toward the goal of being a top tier bike friendly community. It was Richard DeSarra and others who envisioned combining forces of the two organizations synergistically.”
Jesse Peers, Reconnect Rochester Cycling Coordinator commented: “We’re better together. The youthful energy and creativity within Reconnect’s organization, and the decades of experience in advocacy work that RCA members bring to the fore, is the perfect combination.”
Reconnect Rochester's current Board President Renée Stetzer shared her excitement about the union: "It takes a village to bring about change in our transportation network. Our collaboration will give our collective multi-modal efforts a huge boost, as we share resources, infrastructure, ideas and energy."