One Last Ride on the Rochester City Subway

An edited repost from my blog

Today marks 60 years since the last run of the Rochester City Subway system.  A little less than a mile of empty, graffiti-filled awesomeness still exists from the east entrance near Dinosaur BBQ to the west end where the CSX Railroad crosses Broad Street.  Recently, I had an idea of how to commemorate the final voyage of the RCS.

Photo Apr 09, 6 21 44 PM

I’ve seen lots of YouTube videos featuring people walking the length of the tunnel, but I really wanted to simulate the feeling of riding a subway through the tunnel in 2016.  I decided to bike through the tunnel at relatively high speeds with a GoPro camera and simulate the essence of what it must have been like to ride a train through it 60 years ago.  To do this, I realized I needed a lot of light and a bike with decent stability.  I chose my Dahon Vybe folding bike, which is small and easy to control in rough terrain, and outfitted it with an Ion 700 bike light, which puts out as many lumens as your average car headlight.  It worked perfectly.

The video is very shaky (it’s a rough ride!), dark and grainy, but it sort of adds to the haunting effect.  I overlaid some subway audio that really gives the experience a kick.  At about the 2-minute mark, I get up over 20mph (crank the audio, or throw one some headphones for the best effect), and you begin to forget I’m riding a bike and really start to feel like you’re riding a train that’s come back from the dead.

Will we ever see a subway again in Rochester?  That’s extremely unlikely.  But I am very sure that eventually, this whole subway space will be repurposed into something spectacular!  Until then, here’s one last ride on the Rochester Subway, 60 years later.




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