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Wednesday 30 September 2020
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Bus Riders, Downtown Pedestrians Have a Way to Fight COVID-19

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

Having wash stands on the sidewalk may be impractical, but having stations that dispense hand sanitizer for passersby, now that’s more realistic.

Leave it to artist Shawn Dunwoody to figure out how to make it happen.

Artist Shawn Dunwoody and Hinge Neighborhoods came up with the idea of putting hand sanitizer stations at the RTS Transit Center. Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

“One day I was strolling by a Pace bike station, I said, ‘That’s it, we’ll use those,’” Dunwoody said Aug. 5 at the unveiling of two hand-sanitzer stations at the RTS Transit Center.

Dunwoody is co-founder and vice president of Hinge Neighbors, an organization that brings neighborhoods together. Initially formed to present ideas on the Inner Loop North project, the group wanted to help out during COVID-19.

The first idea was to put hand sanitizer in stores. Then they thought bigger.

“We looked at some of the demographics in the neighborhood and a large portion were transit rides,” Dunwoody said. “We thought, hey, why don’t we make our transit riders safe. If we do that, let’s do some more throughout downtown. Let’s support people along Main Street. We were all on board. But, how are we going to get the sanitizer into people’s hand?”

Out for a walk, Dunwoody saw his inspiration.

One of two hand sanitzer stations at the RTS Transit Center. Three others are downtown. Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

Pace, which ran the bike-share program, ended its contract with the city and the signs were just standing there. Dunwoody asked if he could use them, and Norman Jones, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services, gave permission.

Dunwoody and his assistants repurposed the frames for the bike signs and attached a rectangular dispenser to each one.

Three other hand sanitizer stations also are downtown – one near Tower 280 at Parcel 5.

Iron Smoke Distillery, which had shifted from making spirits to producing hand sanitizer when the pandemic hit, donated the last of its stock as it has since gone back to making whiskey. Rochester Midland Corp. also was involved.

RTS will be responsible for maintaining the sanitizer stations at the bus terminal and the others will be privately maintained.

Miguel Velazquez, chief operating officer of RTS, said the Transit Center draws more people than the airport and train station. He said having the hand sanitizer at the entrances helps people stay safe.

“This virus doesn’t discriminate against any race, age, sexual orientation,” he said. “It’s important we take any and every step to keep everyone safe. This is one of those very small, but big steps.”