Residents in eight city neighborhoods have more access to the bike share program HOPR — at least for a few more weeks until the service hibernates until April.
HOPR and ROC Freedom Riders announced on Sept. 15 an expansion of stations for bikes, electric-assist bikes and scooters. The new stations are funded by a $240,000 grant from ESL and are at
- 746 Joseph Ave. (Avenue Blackbox Theatre)
- 828 N. Clinton Ave. (La Marketa)
- 535 Portland Ave. (Portland Ave. Rite Aid)
- 530 Webster Ave. (Thomas Ryan R-Center)
- 55 State St. (John Lewis Mural)
- 272 Spencer St. (Lyell and Saratoga)
- 521 Thurston Road (Thurston and Hillendale) and
- 354 Driving Park Ave. (Dewey and Driving Park).
The stations are in neighborhoods where car ownership is low. About one-quarter of Rochester residents can’t afford their own car, according to Mary Staropoli, executive director of Reconnect Rochester. The bikes help people get to work, school, appointments or shops.
“That means (having) stations located throughout the city, not just in the southeast or downtown or in wealthier areas,” she said at the news conference announcing the new stations. “The service has to extend to the underserved populations for whom low-cost bike transportation is not just a novelty, but an economic opportunity.”
It’s an opportunity that runs until mid-November, when HOPR will be collecting the bikes and scooters, and leaving the people who relied on them with the same options they had before. The contract between HOPR and the city doesn’t extend over the winter.
“It’s not about not wanting to operate,” said Isaac Hutton, operations manager for HOPR in Rochester. “It’s more about taking the first baby step to get in the door.”
City Councilmember Mitch Gruber said transportation is a matter of justice and that bike share is one of many options to create equity.
“What we try to do as a city is build complete streets, multiple transit options,” he said. “HOPR is simply one more element to it. And what we’re trying to do is gauge demand and figure out how we continue to build more support in the community to build this program forward.
“People will still ride bicycles, (Dept. of Environmental Services) Commissioner (Norman) Jones and his team will still clear the streets and the protected bike lanes. We’ll still have RGR TA doing the best they can, given the circumstances, to be more frequent with their service. … When the snow hits, it’s not that transportation ends in the city. We need to build a demand of HOPR. We need to continue to do what we’re doing today, show that there’s a lot of community support.”
Speakers credited Rashad Smith of ROC Freedom Riders, who organized the news conference, as well as Theresa Bowick of Conkey Cruisers and Karen Rogers of Exercise Express in promoting bicycling in various neighborhoods.
HOPR is the second bike-share service in Rochester. Since coming to Monroe County in June, HOPR has 450 units in 60 stations in the city, Brighton, Fairport, Pittsford and Brockport. Hutton said about one in four county residents have downloaded the app, but far fewer are regular users.
The service has 4,885 active monthly passes, including a low-income pass available for $10 a month. Riders have taken more than 28,000 trips for 54,372 miles.
To learn how to use HOPR, go to gohopr.com/Rochester/.