(un)Pleasant Valley Parkway



(un)Pleasant Valley Parkway

Thanks to a posting on Providence Daily Dose, the PBC was alerted to a neighborhood meeting last night in the Elmhurst neighborhood regarding proposed changes to the traffic configuration on Pleasant Valley Parkway.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with PVP, here is a nutshell explanation: 2 parallel roadways with a linear park comprising the median (think Blackstone Boulevard, but narrower) with a ravine and stream running down the middle of the park. Sounds nice, right? Except that traffic runs both ways on both sides of the median, creating a traffic clusterf#*@ not seen elsewhere in Our Fair City. Combine that with the ravine, and there’s trouble a-brewin’, mister. All the details are here. There have been accidents galore including fatalities.

The room was packed and many people opted to speak. Only 3 spoke out against the simplest of changes, making traffic one-way on each side of the median park. Several speakers pointed to Blackstone Boulevard as the model they should follow – one-way traffic, single lane for motor vehicles on each side of the media, more room for non-motorized roadways users. Councilman Solomon and DPW Director John Nickelson spoke in favor of a traffic study as a first step. PBC offered its active support for changes that would lead to (in our estimation) better conditions for cyclists; that was appreciated by many in attendance.

We will stay in the loop on this and post updates when there is news to pass along.


  • Alan Barta
    May 20, 2009 at 6:11 am

    For those not in the know, PVP is a continuation of Dean Street, which passes over AMTRAK and RI-6 from Atwells. It becomes Raymond at Orms and Valley, then reverts to PVP as a left off Convent, just before crossing Smith. Once past the former Lying In Hospital, it becomes the aforementioned 2 sided river trailer that leads to Academy Ave. near LaSalle Academy.

    I long since advocated that they connect the Woonasquatucket bike lanes with PVP. The easiest route is Rathbone St to the EXISTING bikepath alongside Raymond St, which ducks into Davis Park playground. Using the rule of crossings, which never sends riders through the worst intersections (in this case, Chalkstone & Raymond), but instead bypasses at a slight distance, this repaved bike path would exit Davis Park to cross Chalkstone at Garfiled Street (near Nathaniel Green School). At the end of Garfield is a tiny bit of city property that could be used as a 25' bike path and directly connect to new bike lanes on PVP above. Nelson St could be signed as a route to LaSalle. Farm, Web and Whitford could be signed as a route to Mount Pleasant and RIC.

    All bike infrastructure ought to connect playgrounds, schools and safety services, such as neighborhood fire and police stations. Youngsters would benefit from the additional vigilance such arrangements afford.

    I am not opposed to new bike lanes on PVP that hug the left side of road (already no parking restricted), thereby avoiding parking spaces on right side only, so area residents are not inconvenienced in the slightest. Besides, there are numerous bridges across the river at 1-2 block intervals.

  • Alan Barta
    May 20, 2009 at 6:24 am

    The main problems with one-way designations are: a) kills usability of surrounded real estate (hard to turn left into), and b) suggests a speedway.

    In a), PVP one-ways would surround river public owns as a linear park, much like Blackstone Blvd. In b), speed bumps could be added. If so, they should not cross the bike lanes, as they do elsewhere in city. At least leave an 18" slot.

  • May 26, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    The parkway DEFINITELY doesn't need speed bumps. And I'm not sure what real estate anybody would be turning left into if the streets were one-way.

  • May 27, 2009 at 6:21 am

    Since we seem to be on the topic of speed bumps… I think there are a few solutions in this realm that actually work well.

    The first is parabolic speed humps. They are a effectively a tuned version of a speed bump, whereby the designers pick a speed above which the driver feels the hump. Below the designed speed, the motorist won't even know they are there.

    The second is something called a speed cushion. They are becoming quite popular with planners, as they don't slow down emergency vehicles, but do slow down cars.

    Both of these allow cyclists to ride through without being negatively impacted, yet are effective at slowing down cars.

  • Alan Barta
    May 28, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Speed controls are used far too often for my taste. Right, those huge "bumps" waste gas and wreck cars; must be a plot of Big Oil and Car Repairers.

    Where they are used is another mystery. Every side street doesn't need them. I deplore their use on Pettys Avenue (West of Olneyville); for that matter, why not along in line Glenbridge? If anything, they prove that the roadnet is woefully inadequate as a means for moving traffic. If motorists feel the need to race on cut-throughs it's because the highways are jammed and obsolete.

    One-way designations encourage speeding, though. Traffic in opposite directions can be a speed deterrent in itself. However, many streets, even major ones, in Providence don't have room for the additional bike lane required by law. Closing a lane in one direction does open space. Sharrows (travel lanes shared by cyclists and motorists, as indicated by a stenciled symbol) are at best a temporary fix.

    A better solution is in a concept for which I coined the term BIKE CORRIDORS. They mimic a watershed model. Cities select certain roads that with good features for cycling: clean, flat (alongside rivers often works), no parking, quiet, straight, unbroken, without grates. Quiet parallel side streets are good candidates; often they present opportunities to connect cult-de-sacs with tiny patches of asphalt. The object is to link all bike infrastructure that exists, esp., coming in from adjacent towns, with parks, playgrounds, schools and services (fire/parking/police/stores). In other words, you connect villages, make safe paths to schools, promote tourism. Permit no GAPS, similar to roads, where you can't go from town to town throughout state without arranging for inadequate alternative transportation, like rack and ride, on busses that come along every third day in some cases.

    Bicyclists would not be FORCED to use corridors, but they would gravitate to them because city would hold them in a higher standard, patrol, repair, sweep more often. All new road construction would, however, be forced to maintain these corridors, planning bridges or over/under passes, as necessary. Portland solved one such dilemma by suspending a bridge along a river bank to make space for a bike flow. Turned out to be a remarkably attractive/cheap/easy approach, great for retrofits of banned roads. You can safely cross the Connecticut River alongside I-95 on such a structure totally enclosed away from traffic with both bike lanes on North side of bridge.

    Associating bikeways with rivers is a natural for us, since we have so many that present relatively flat stretches, and planners always have to consider flooding and flows to preserve watersheds. Why didn't they extend the Woonasquatucket bike lanes under the PP Mall and into Waterplace Park? That was quite doable. Instead you have no bridge and rough cobblestones.