The intersection at Parsells Avenue and Greeley Street in Rochester recently transformed from a broad straightaway to a pedestrian oasis complete with colorful crosswalks, realigned curbs, a large mural in the center and painted cardboard box sculptures to represent potential permanent art installations.
“We are changing Parsells Avenue to make it safer for everyone — pedestrians, cyclists and drivers,” said Joe Di Fiore, secretary of the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition. “Our neighborhood wanted drivers to slow down, and to prevent cars flying down the street and around corners. We turned our vision into a reality, and we plan to ensure that this pilot installation leads to permanent changes for our neighborhood.”
The Parsells and Greeley transformation is part of Complete Streets Makeover, which tests street enhancements that could make neighborhoods roads more welcoming for nonvehicular traffic. Completed projects allow everyone to access the street safely, whether they are in cars, on bicycles, riding transit or walking.
“The elements we installed encourage drivers to slow down, and remind them the road is shared by pedestrians and cyclists,” said Renee Stetzer, vice president of community outreach and pedestrian work group chairman for Reconnect Rochester. “The temporary installation demonstrates how we can create safe and supportive environments for all users of our community streets, regardless of their mode of transportation.”
Data collected by Common Ground Health indicates that Beechwood residents are more likely to go to a hospital emergency department for pedestrian- and cyclist-related crashes than other areas in the city. In nominating the intersection for the makeover, the submitter said, “Parsells is often used as a cut-through and speedway and it’s not at all uncommon for vehicles to be traveling at 50-plus mph.” In November 2016, a child died after being hit by a car on this stretch of road.
The Community Design Center of Rochester gathered feedback from residents during a community input session in July with neighbors, including many that live in the immediate area and witness the unsafe conditions at the intersection. Stantec provided the design for the on-street experiments based on neighborhood input. City and county officials will study the response to the changes to determine if the new streetscape should become permanent.
“The support of neighborhood partners is inspiring and critical to the long-term success of the makeover,” said Mike Bulger, healthy communities project coordinator at Common Ground Health. “Our data demonstrates speeding cars are a key barrier for families to walk, bike and play in neighborhoods across the city. Adequate infrastructure, education and ongoing advocacy by neighborhood partners continues to advance long-term changes that support healthy neighborhoods and communities.”
The street improvements are examples of tactical urbanism — temporary, small-scale changes to an urban space that test whether there is need for permanent redesign. Filmmakers will capture the intersection’s makeover on video to show as part of Reconnect Rochester’s Street Films event at The Little Theatre on Nov. 14.
In addition to the Parsells-Greeley makeover, Stantec will create improved design renderings for two other locations nominated by members of the public as trouble spots that could be made safer: Lake Avenue and Phelps Street on the block encompassing Lakeview Tower, as well as Monroe Avenue, Canterbury Road and Dartmouth Street.
Visit reconnectrochester.org/complete-streets-makeover for information.