The City of Rochester is defined by both poverty and renewed development in its center city. Often overlooked, access to transportation systems plays an important role in the prevalence of poverty. Accessing areas of Rochester that offer higher paying jobs, better schools, and a greater variety of services is directly related to car ownership, a luxury that Rochester’s poorest cannot afford. This transportation inequality is considered a contributing factor to Rochester’s poverty rate.
In addition, the discontinuous urban fabric of downtown Rochester is designed for automobile, not pedestrian or bicycle traffic. Safe and continuous pedestrian and cycling pathways are often absent, though Rochester contains major employment districts, academic institutions, cultural and entertainment venues, public spaces, and basic amenities. Wide streets, city-bisecting highways, and large areas of surface parking contribute to continued use of automobiles, restricting efforts to develop Rochester into a sustainable, accessible, human-scale, and lively city.
Bicycle transportation offers a viable alternative to automobile ownership and bus transportation, filling in the gap between accessibility and efficiency in Rochester’s transportation network. However, ridership deterrents such as the risk of inclement weather and lack of cycling-specific infrastructure must be addressed. A bicycle lane canopy is a potential solution for fulfilling these goals.
Projects in London and Berlin have shown that investment in cycling infrastructure is effective at promoting cycling as a mode of transportation. Tensile fabric architecture and textile projects in Boston, Detroit, Denver, and New Zealand have shown that tensile structures are able to define urban spaces in expressive ways.
In order to encourage bicycling as a mode of transportation by protecting cyclists and pedestrians from weather events and automobile traffic, a canopy structure was proposed. This Bicycle Lane Intelligent Network Canopy (BLINC) consists of a connected series of individual tensile fabric structures that interact to create an urban network of bike lane coverings. Potential tensile fabrics, designs and routes were analyzed to meet the needs of the tensile fabric structure; a PTFE triangular tee structure was determined to best fulfill the design intent.
A BLINC route network was proposed along several existing roadways that provide access to the urban fabric of employment, education, amenity, and recreational opportunities in the city. It is designed to provide efficient, convenient, and continuous cyclist access to the core and extents of Rochester, while enhancing the sense of place that the urban framework provides.
By encouraging cycling as a mode of transportation, the tensile fabric BLINC structure and proposed BLINC route network also improve community health, increase cyclist safety, lower greenhouse gas emissions, promote the local economy, and contribute to Rochester’s innovation in urban renewal.
Department, Program, or Center
Julius J. Chiavaroli
Benson, Blair A., "BLINC: Designing Bicycle Path Protection for Accessible Transportation Networks" (2019). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus