This is good news for several reasons. One is better health, the drive-everywhere culture is one of the factors in increasing obesity and ill-health. And biking, close to true “fossil free” travel is – due to the efficiency of wheels – reportedly even more energy efficient than walking! So it doesn’t contribute to export of our dollars to out of state energy companies. And biking is quiet, non-polluting, and, often, fun. Indeed, for recreation, the speed of a bicycle is often best for enjoying the scenery.
Another is the strong support for biking from RIDOT, DEM, and Rhode Island voters who approved the “green economy bond” that included $10 million for bike paths. A new section of the Blackstone Bikeway was just opened along the Seekonk River from near India Point Park to near the Henderson Bridge, making it possible to avoid a dangerous stretch along Gano Street. The bike/pedestrian bridge on the old I-195 route is finally under construction, it can help facilitate travel between the east side and the redeveloping jewelry district. Funded future projects include bringing the Blackstone Bikeway to the MA State line and to central Woonsocket, Pawtucket and Central Falls, important to those core cities and to our tourist industry for promoting our new Blackstone Valley National Park with a bike path tying many of the sites together. Other projects include extending the South County path both to the Narragansett shore and to URI, extending the Warren Path, and starting an off-road project on Aquidneck Island.
There is also progress coming on-road. In Providence, with support from the mayor and City planning, there will be improved bike lane facilities to the train station, along RIPTA’s “enhanced downtown transit corridor,” along the “City Walk” project on the south side, while RIDOT promises to facilitate bike travel as part of its 6-10 rebuild. On-road improvements are also planned in Westerly.
If you have a bicycle remember your range is extended to almost the entire state with RIPTA’s bike racks on all full-sized buses. One of the first systems in the east to get these racks, RIPTA still has no extra charge for carrying a bicycle. Free bike travel is also available on the Providence-Newport ferry that runs until October 1 and all MBTA off-peak commuter trains.
For more, I suggest visiting the RI Bike Coalition www.ribike.org for advocacy info, Bike Newport at www.bikenewportri.org or the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen www.nbwclub.org for rides and programs, www.recycleabike.org building community by connecting people & bikes, www.dot.ri.gov/bikeri
I know not everyone can bicycle, but if you can, enjoy riding, and ride safe.