Elmwood Ave Bike/Pedestrian Improvements



Elmwood Ave Bike/Pedestrian Improvements

repavingOver the course of the next two years, RIDOT is scheduled to completely repave Elmwood Avenue.  I will be meeting with some people this Thursday @ 11am to discuss potential bicycle and pedestrian improvements that might be done in conjunction with the repaving work.  If you frequent this area or just have a vested interest in this road, please let me know

  1. If you really want to attend (we can accommodate a small number of extra participants)
  2. If you have any feedback or suggestions you would like me to take to this meeting

I’d like to get all feedback by Wednesday @ 5pm, so I can compile it all for the meeting during the next day.


  • Bruce Masterson
    Mar 16, 2010 at 9:19 am

    This certainly would make me Google Maps plotted commute a lot better.

  • Labann
    Mar 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Well that's good news. The pavement is so wavy in spots it gets dangerous (to both motorists and pedicyclists). There are 5 major trouble spots (S to N):

    1. Segment from Post Rd Warwick to Park Ave Cranston – interrupted shoulders (4 lanes undivided).

    2. Segment from Whitney Street past Rogers Williams Park to Roger Williams Ave – no shoulder, esp. near Rt 10 entrance/exit and I-95 exit.

    3. Construction development just South of Columbus Square – "borrowed" shoulder for a long time; bicyclists suddenly shifting into travel lane confuses motorists.

    4. Columbus Square to Public Street – heavy parking means cyclists must assume center of travel lane, but motorists can't seem to accept this.

    5. Rotary at Bridgham/Broad Streets; extremely bad potholes, storm grates and tight quarters.

    Do you really want to improve bicycling on a main artery? More thought could to be given to making angling Bucklin Street a quieted bike boulevard (goes by a library, park, pool and two schools ). Also, a connection from WSBP across RT 10 (perhaps Franklin St Bridge) to Reservoir then Bucklin or Elmwood could be a CORRIDOR that connects ultimately to EBBP.

    The repaving/restriping South of RT 10 didn't do anything special to support cycling; they removed center island, which clearly makes crossing by foot more dangerous.

  • Matt
    Mar 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I used to commute the length of Elmwood Ave, and occasionally still do. It's not a bad road to ride, though new pavement will be welcome. Structurally, if it can't be redesigned to add a bike lane, enlarging the gutter would improve safety. These are probably outside the scope of the project.

    What Elmwood Ave really needs is random, strict police enforcement. South of Park Ave, commuters and soccer moms race down the road at upwards of 55 miles an hour. North of 95, the road is fine in the morning but in the afternoon it has a 'wild wild west' feel, people darting out of side streets, pulling out to block the road, making dangerous lane changes, etc. These measures can be implemented before and/or after re paving, and is what Elmood Ave really needs the most.

  • MattM
    Mar 17, 2010 at 4:36 am

    Too fast and heavy traffic is the main reason I avoid riding this road and end up on Broad or some other parallel street heading south. If traffic could be slowed to the posted speed limit, that'd be a huge win right there. It seems that any 4 lane road is automatically treated like a highway by many motorists.

    Compare to Broad which has heavy traffic, but speeds are slower, partly because of all the lights, but also restricted to 1 lane for a lot of its length.

  • Ted Lewandowski
    Mar 17, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I agree with MattM – PLUS South Providence residents and drivers are the dumbest in the State – with so many cultures they all drive differently. Also, most cabs will not even do pick-ups in these areas so why would I want to ride my bike on a newly repaved roadway (read even faster speeds) – just asking for trouble!

  • Mar 18, 2010 at 5:16 am

    A number of people have expressed comments along the lines of

    Do you really want to improve bicycling on a main artery?

    and I think the answer is yes! We want to improve cycling along ALL routes. RIDOT and the City of Providence are doing the right thing here. They are proactively looking at how to improve pedestrian and cycling when repaving work is being done. Is this going to make Elmwood a bicycling mecca? No. But if we can get a bunch of incremental improvements every time RIDOT or the City of Providence touch a road, then overall conditions will get better.

  • Labann
    Mar 18, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Well, bless 'em. It's about time, since it's ALREADY LAW!

    There will always be controversy with mixed road use. Some enlightened folks are willing to sacrifice cycling infrastructure along heaving motored routes for parallel, quieted bike boulevards. A good model used in Europe is a two-way bike-ped path on one side of road separated by barriers. Often they form linear tree-lined parks punctuated with cafes and shops. As it is, few here complain of bike bans on 25% of state's roads, limited access highways, although they should immediately demand adjacent alternatives. Is Elmwood Ave a highway or slow secondary?

    As I crossed Jamestown Bridge yesterday, was discussing this very topic with bus driver. He said no pedicyclist should try to cross in shoulder, but admitted that one-way riding/walking narrow walkways might be okay. Oh, they don't have service on Sundays, because Newport's RIPTA Barn in closed; poor excuse, since Narragansett is served from Providence. Out of luck, despite RIDOT's 10-year-old promise to FHWA to make the cross from Newport to North Kingstown bike accessible. Don't hold your breath while waiting hours/days for a ride across.

    Which brings us to bike paths. After recent work, EBBP is in like-new, spectacular condition. There are still a few cross cracks in spots, and shells from sea birds cracking dinner, but not having ridden in a while, I noticed how nice it was, much better to ride than parallel roads, which I recently did. Makes it easier to get to Newport in 2 hours. Burma Road, on the other hand, was much more tiring, seemingly all up hill Southbound. Yet it doesn't need a bike path, since traffic is light. I'd much rather see a bike route on the island's central ridge, which would be flatter and more direct. Turnpike Ave's 2 lanes are fine, as is, but when you get to Quaker Hill, suddenly 4 lanes without a shoulder, traffic is merciless, esp. school busses. A bike path alongside would work; there's even part of a feral sidewalk.

    In contrast, West Bay is difficult and unpleasant from Wickford Northbound. I once advocated an on-street route supplemented with a few short bikeway segments that would have directly connected Wickford to WSBP. Town officials aren't interested. They even kyboshed a short segment paralleling Rt 102 form proposed train station to dockside. Seems they suffer from the same one-mule-town obstinacy as Smithfield. Rather see a parallel to Rt 1, which not only violates law but is seriously dangerous to both motorists and pedicyclists all the way to Warwick.

    After freely consulting RIDOT and Warwick's mayor's office, then being told otherwise, Greenwich Ave was restriped to REMOVE shoulders. This eliminated the last decent route to traverse Warwick, RI's flattest city yet the most bike unfriendly in tristate area. They laugh it off; means nothing to them. Only lawsuits can remove those smirks.

  • MattM
    Mar 18, 2010 at 8:06 am


    I'm all for making Elmwood more bikeable, and I understand that the only way to do so is to engage with RIDOT and express what we perceive the problems to be. It could be just as much that we need to engage with law enforcement to get speeds down, but road design can influence speeds very effectively at a one-time cost. Given the paucity of southbound routes that go all the way through, getting improvements on Elmwood would be great. Safer access to the west entrance of Roger Williams Park and Zoo would be awesome by itself.

    Despite it being law, if no one takes the time to say what the problems are, there won't be a change unless someone on the project is directly on the route, a cyclist or a regular pedestrian and transit user.

  • Barry
    Mar 18, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Mark does a great job as bike advocate in working with the agencies when road projects are being designed (not just Elmwood but Henderson Bridge, Washington Bridge etc) but he can't do it alone. To make the law that "directs" RIDOT to accomodate bikes (and pedestrians) on (most) road projects effective, the bike community that actually rides and is familiar with the road has to get involved. I believe DOT is willing to collaborate.

    Related, here are three situations to watch:

    The Pawtucket Times reports that city has a $80,000 planning grant to redesign traffic patterns in downtown Pawtucket and it will "also look at pedestrian and bicycle access improvements" so this is an opportunity for someone who rides in that area.

    On the other hand, the Standard Times (No. Kingstown) reports that construction of a new commuter train station in Wickford Junction may begin in May and though parking is prominently featured, there was no mention of bike (or transit) access, even though there is an abandoned rail corridor apparently in public ownership between Wickford Jct and Wickford. I hope local bike advocates will try to address this.

    In contrast, we have seen that Warwick bike advocates have indeed proposed improving bike access to the new commuter rail station being built there, good for them! I hope to be able to help them get state support.

  • Labann
    Mar 19, 2010 at 1:49 pm


    "Mark … can’t do it alone. … bike community that actually rides and is familiar with the road has to get involved. I believe DOT is willing to collaborate."

    Please. Been giving them help, hints, suggestions, urgent workarounds for over a decade, over 1,000 emails and letters, after riding about 80,000 on RI roads (all of them). A typical day in the saddle for me often exceeds 50 miles. Spoke before the TAC, to mayors, too. Little ever changes. I've told RIDOT director and intermodal chief and his staff that I have a map that shows every defect in the bikenet statewide. They are not interested, unless to explain why they can't do anything.

    Here's their response: "Get a huge quorum of interested cyclists to agree, then we'll talk." As if cyclists agree on anything. Gave RIDOT an in depth survey of avid cyclist opinion, which was published on-line. Since when do they respond to public? Or even motorists? Neither these agencies nor government officials want to be told anything… except what a wonderful job they're doing. Ha! The historic disconnect between constituency and government has never been so great.

    I think the threat of being fired might shake up this complacent, do-nothing bureaucrats. They certainly can't make roadnet any less friendly. It occurred to me today that they MUST IMMEDIATELY RESTORE SHOULDERS. These demon Toyodors need breakdown lanes into which not to stop and speed uncontrollably.

  • sara
    Apr 13, 2010 at 8:04 am

    To Ted Lewandowski-

    Please don't make blanket statements about South Providence residents.

    This statement- "PLUS South Providence residents and drivers are the dumbest in the State – with so many cultures they all drive differently."

    borders on racist and is very offensive.

    As a resident of South Providence, I welcome any changes that would improve my ability to bike to my job, also in South Providence, safely.

    I look forward to the re-scheduled meeting.