Summer construction projects are a regular occurrence at RIT, and this summer has been no exception. Currently in development are a new bicycle path and a pedestrian walkway to Reynolds Drive and Stern Lane.
Surveys and open forums with student, faculty and staff groups, as well as input from a national expert in bicycle and pedestrian safety, have indicated a need for more designated bike travel space along the Quarter Mile and other high-traffic areas on campus.
“In-depth research has confirmed that more than 25 percent of our student, faculty, staff and visitor population come to campus on bicycles,” says Randy Vercauteren, director of parking, transportation and building services. “And we expect this number to continue to grow as our campus grows. As a proactive measure, we have developed a comprehensive strategic plan, based upon studies pinpointing when and where bike traffic is the heaviest, in order to accommodate at least 800 bicycles on campus at any given time.”
Joe Pow has been an avid cyclist since he was a child, and wholeheartedly believes that cycling isn’t just a form of exercise, but a way to explore one’s surroundings, see new things and embark on an adventure every time you start pedaling. Pow, associate director of RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and RIT cycling club advisor, often bikes to RIT from his home in Victor and leads faculty/staff cycling groups on weekly recreational rides through the area.
Pow welcomes the changes to campus and sees the pedestrian and bike path project as a way to tout RIT’s dedication to “green” initiatives.
“These improvements to the cycling infrastructure are a very positive first step, and they will certainly be welcomed by the growing RIT cycling community,” says Pow. “However, I believe RIT can and should do more to promote cycling, both on and off campus. By collaborating with local government to integrate our cycling-related development projects with similar initiatives in the local community RIT would send a strong message about our commitment to sustainability, the environment and a healthy lifestyle.”
“The primary goal of these projects is safety,” says RIT senior project manager Quent Rhodes. “As our campus continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it has become increasingly important to steer vehicular traffic away from pedestrians. Fortunately, our design team has created a way to do this that will help maintain RIT’s commitment to supporting healthy initiatives, such as bicycling and walking, while further enhancing the beauty of our campus. This is a case where form and function work beautifully together.”
The $5 million project is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The bicycle path will begin at the mouth of the residence halls area, run parallel to the Quarter Mile and head south of the August Center. In addition, the existing bus loop near Wallace Library will become a campus transportation hub known as the Gleason Transit Plaza. A customized bus shelter will be built and covered bike shelters and new bike racks will be added to the space. Landscaping and beautification will continue throughout the year.
Fans of the afternoon stroll will love the Reynolds/Stern Pedestrian Improvement Plan. The plan includes a major beautification of the quad encircled by Thomas Gosnell Hall, Orange Hall, Lewis P. Ross Hall, Hugh L. Carey Hall and Max Lowenthal Hall. This area will include brick pavers, stone and brick seat walls, and a water feature.
“This walkway will help to make Reynolds Drive more pedestrian friendly and successfully transform the ‘back door’ of RIT into a ‘front door,’”adds Rhodes. “This project beautifully creates an entrance into Global Village, our newest multimillion-dollar housing and retail complex.”
A list of recommended bike routes through campus will be listed on the parking and transportation website, www.rit.edu/parking.
Global Village, RIT’s $54.5 million residential and retail complex, is on target for completion this fall. Students will be able to move in this August and commercial outlets will be operational soon after. Additional updates to the original design of the complex include a beach volleyball court that will open in September. Opening later this fall is a full-service salon and an art gallery showcasing RIT student, faculty, staff and alumni talent that features one-of-a-kind gifts and art ranging from moderate to high-end pricing.
The RIT community is invited to celebrate the addition of Global Village to campus at 3 p.m. Sept. 30. The event will include opening remarks, a ribbon cutting and a reception.
Visit the RIT Global Village Website, www.rit.edu/globalvillage, for event updates and details.