A Bicycle-Friendly Newport
It’s Time to Make Newport Bicycle Friendly!
Beautiful historic seaside Newport is prime to be a bike-friendly, road-sharing city. Once we get started with the easiest of marked lanes, we’ll be on our way to safer bicycling, leading to countless positive enhancements to life, health, community and tourism:
- reduction of traffic congestion
- reduced wear and tear on historic neighborhoods
- improved enjoyment of the city
- reduction of carbon emissions
- increased physical activity
- improved health and productivity – kids and adults alike
- improvement of air quality
- improved road safety for all users
- yet another reason to visit Newport: beaches, harbors, shopping, sailing, tennis, golf, historic mansions, and now – bicycles and bike paths all around the city and the Ocean Drive!
What a fabulous shot in the arm for Newport!
Bicyclists may be the advocates pushing for a fair share of a safe road, but EVERYONE should get behind a bicycle and pedestrian friendly city. Whatever concerns or objections there might be – let’s meet them head on. The challenges we face in Newport – from reciprocal courtesy to the narrowness of our historic streets – have all been faced by other communities around the country. Let’s start looking at best practices and start gaining some traction. We could have our first lanes marked by the start of our next summer season. Just in time to make the shot down Bellevue to the Beach, up Broadway to the hospital and across Memorial to Middletown a safe and easy ride for all.
Here’s who should back a comprehensive bicycle plan for Newport and why:
Historic, preservation and restoration organizations: Reducing cars will reduce the rough wear and tear on our historic streets. People on foot and on bicycle will have a closer look, a more personal experience and more enjoyment of our treasures.
Schools: The percentage of students walking or bicycling to school has decreased from 48% to 13% in the past 40 years. In the same period, the percentage of students arriving or leaving by car has increased from 12% to 44%. Not surprisingly, childhood overweight and obesity has seen an increase from 5% to 28% in the same period. Increased physical activity leads to healthier weight and better performance in schools. (US DOT 2009 National Household Travel Survey, as reported by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership)
Employers: Same points as school children. Healthier employees are better performers. Clearer thinkers. And overall happier people. Let’s get local employers on board to provide encouragement and incentives to local employees to bike to work.
Businesses: Everyone on a bicycle and on foot is not in a car. That’s a neater, cleaner shopping area full of less stressed shoppers. Let’s get some nice bike racks made out of salvage Victorian fencing and give a discount to anyone carrying their bicycle helmet. Let’s have a vision!
Tourism: Can we guess how many tourists would be relieved not to have to deal with the hassle and expense of downtown Newport parking? Let’s make it easier and safer for them to leave their car at their hotel or outside of town. There’s a big opportunity for BikeShare in Newport. Let’s start thinking proactively about facilitating bicycling for our visitors and complementing it with shuttle service. Let’s add “Bike Newport” to the travel brochure and we’ve got another great reason to come to town.
The City of Newport: Safer streets, reduced traffic congestion, healthier residents, more-productive employees, better-focused students – is there a downside here? Whatever the problem, there’s a solution. Bicycling has been successful in every city where it’s been encouraged. We’ve got innovative employees with great ideas and a multitude of successful cities modeling best practices. Let’s get this show on the road!
This posting is just a first touch on a complex landscape. The discussion wants to include the rest of Aquidneck Island and the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission’s Transportation Study, along with other studies and recommendations. Meanwhile, in Newport we can get started on marking streets in the city’s jurisdiction and collecting the information to pull together all activity into a master plan – a road map. From there we can keep moving forward one step at a time toward a very real potential.
Comments? Suggestions? Together we can provide the impetus and the assistance needed to make Newport the smart safe bicycle-friendly city it’s destined to be.