Wickenden Alternatives



Wickenden Alternatives

The folks over at Greater City Providence did a great job summarizing the alternatives RIDOT presented this past Monday for the Wickenden St./195 interchange.  I wasn’t able to attend the meeting and am hoping that anyone who was in attendance would add their thoughts to this post.  My understanding was that the following option was most widely accepted by everyone:

I’d encourage everyone to take some time and submit any thoughts or comments you have to either Melanie Jewett in the Planning Department and/or Lambri Zerva at RIDOT.  They will be accepting comments until the close of business on Tuesday, February 16th.

Looking at these designs, it’s still not clear to me how a bicycle is expected to navigate from the mulit-use path coming from India Point Park, through the intersection, and continue down to the bicycle path on South Water Street.  Clearly they are going to need to use the pedestrian signals, because crossing over two plus lanes of traffic, coming off at highway speeds, is going to be a death wish.  I just hope RIDOT has the sense to build some sort of large catchment area for bicycles, as people riding along paths can often be families with children.

I’m also seriously concerned about how RIDOT and the city plan to encourage motorists to slow down to the posted 25mph speeds after coming off the highway.  I don’t see any sort of traffic calming built into the plans.  I’m also dismayed to see that no thought, once again, has been given to HOV lanes in either direction.


  • jack
    Feb 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Its hard to see in the picture, but they are proposing bike lanes in both directions for through bike traffic on wickenden/point. They intend the less seasoned bike path users to utilize the crosswalks to go towards the river. Short of a tunnel or a bridge, I'm not sure how else you could adequately serve families with kids and other similar path users.

    As for the high speed approach to Wickenden from the highway, they are proposing a parking lane on either side of the offramp to provide some "friction". I'm not really sure who would be parking there or how they would get there unless they were coming off the highway. Imagine parallel parking on a highway offramp. So I think the end result will be cars racing to catch the green, red light running and a general suburban feel to this gateway to an important pedestrian scale neighborhood.

    Why not just maintain the flyover offramp that currently exists? I would rather have the existing highspeeds on South Main (sorry Dick) than the commuter traffic making a mess of Wickenden Street and then South Main.

  • Feb 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Short of a tunnel or a bridge, I’m not sure how else you could adequately serve families with kids and other similar path users.

    Well, if this were Europe, where pedestrians and cyclists are put on equal footing with automobiles, I could see them putting in a diagonal crosswalk with a light just for pedestrians and cyclists. I know, crazy idea, but think about it for a minute. RIDOT and the city are working to make Providence the hub for cycling. They are spending billions of dollars to build bike paths that lead into the city and then what… dumping them on city streets. I'm not advocating that EVERY street should have bike path type safety for cyclists, but when you have two separated facilities so close together, it's worth thinking about how we can bring them together and make it possible for the type of cyclists who feels most comfortable riding on bike paths to make it into the downtown area. I'm sure that something could be done with light timings to make this work out, but it would take much more effort.

    I'm with you… I don't know who would park on the exit ramp of a highway and what good is this really going to do to slow people down. If they could figure out some way to make the tickets stick, I bet the combination of red light camera and an automated speed camera would quickly reduce the speed of automobiles heading into the city.

  • Matt
    Feb 8, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Random thought on slowing people down (RIDOT would probably never go for this). How about a raised sidewalk across the head of the highway offramp? Too dangerous?

    Having an all stop on the light cycle, and making sure it isn't a 2 minute wait (try waiting for the pedestrian light in front of the mall) is a great idea!

  • Noman
    Feb 8, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I had a long telephone conversation with RIDOT last week about this. Despite my numerous complaints, they said they are only addressing the transit from Point St Bridge to Wickenden, not the connection to EBBP or lanes along Allens Avenue. Of course not. They don't care that pedicyclists can't cross bridges.

    I emailed my list of priorities, as follows, and reminded them that more bike infrastructure was lost in the last decade than gained. It's easily reversed with Current Good Practices replacing Frequent Criminal Negligence in layout and use of paint, and wouldn't cost anything additional.

    Adopt zoning ordinances that ensure (in this order of priority):

    1. Repaved roads are restriped with breakdown/parking lanes; it's illegal to steal shoulders for turning lanes as has been routinely done for decades; it results in more accidents (of all types) than any other lapse in design judgement. STOP STEALING SHOULDERS. Shoulders are an important safety measure used to let emergency vehicles and regular motorists pass. Travel lanes are where I'm entitled to ride on roads where I want to go. You cannot confine bicyclists to state's bike paths: 5,000 miles of roads. But fully 25% of RI roads ban bikes outright; 25% have tacit bans in that they aren't safely bikeable, for example, Warwick Avenue, a state road with negligible shoulders.

    2. All new road plans include ADA compliant sidewalks and bike lanes; CT River is bridged by separate bicycling and motoring infrastructure, for example; over 95% of pedestrian fatalities occur where there is no sidewalks.

    3. AMTRAK restore frequent pedicyclists crossings; they closed many vehicle crossings due to expense of keeping them up, but bike-ped crossings are a small fraction of the cost and easily maintained comparatively; rail becomes a monolithic impediment without over- and underpasses.

    4. Parking lots include walkways for motorists to safely approach stores; developers tend to pack in as many parking spots as possible; the fastest growing group of pedestrians fatalities are drivers walking through parking lots.

    5. No "pinch points" where cycling is sacrificed to motoring. We discussed Apponaug and Hoxie and the confluence of East Avenue, Sandy Lane and West Shore Road, where shoulders have been eliminated, but there are many more.

    6. RIPTA provides for daily, frequent bay crossings for cyclists, since the Jamestown bridge violates original agreement with FHWA to include bike lanes. I'd prefer to ride instead, but that would mean either a cable car or four-season ferry between Jamestown and Newport… maybe some day.

    7. Corridor design upon the watershed model, where biking through cannot be detoured or impeded.

    8. Lighting, maintaining, patrolling, repairing and shoveling bikeways year round; if you want riders to choose to confine themselves, you have to improve conditions at least to motorway standards.

    9. Adequate bike racks for all public places, especially transportation terminals; bike lanes leading from rack stations (for example, the new airport train station).

    10. Complete whatever you start; Washington Secondary Bike Path decking and grading in Coventry is getting damaged from erosion and vandalism because a small amount of pavement hasn't been laid; the Coventry Greenway ends abruptly in the woods, should end at Hill Farm Road; East Bay Bike Path never reached George Washington Bridge; Northwest Bikeway needs to extend somehow through Donnegan Park to bike lanes of Promenade Street, past PP Mall to Wickenden Street; planned bikeway across Sakonnet Bridge will be the only way to get from Portsmouth to Tiverton without leaving RI altogether.

  • margherita pryor
    Mar 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I had written to Melanie Jewett requesting an extension of the comment period because of the difficulty in even seeing the the proposed alternatives at the public meeting, or hearing how they were described. While I did not get any response from Melanie, I did get an invitation from Lambri to discuss the plans with him and to get a better understanding of the options.

    I will be meeting with him on Monday, March 8. If anyone has specific comments in addition to those posted here, I will be happy to convey them. I concur with all the concerns regarding the likely impacts of motorists coming down the 195 off-ramp. My proposal is to revamp the currently useless path on India street as an alternative so that bicyclists can proceed along the river into downtown.