A Bicycle-Friendly Newport



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.


  • Shawn Sweeney
    Dec 22, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Great website! I hope you go far. The more cities that are bike friendly the better. You've laid out all the reasons above, but the most important to me are the ones that regard protecting wildlife. In a seaside city like Newport the impact on wildlife both terrestrial and marine are huge! We can't do anything about it though, unless there's an infrastructure that supports people walking and biking everywhere. Congrats on this work. All the best!

  • Bill Lewis
    Dec 22, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    I have some questions for you.

    A. Who are you?

    B. How long have you been her in Newport?

    C.How long have you been riding Bicycles?

    D. What makes you think that Newport is in need of bike lanes?

    Please respond so I can see where the hell you are coming from.

  • Labann
    Dec 23, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Indict or recall the entire city council first, because they've been the criminals opposing federally mandated complete streets.

  • Betsy
    Dec 23, 2010 at 5:07 am

    I fully support your ideas and would love to see our city "bike friendly!"

  • MattM
    Dec 23, 2010 at 5:16 am

    Last I checked, City of Newport passed a resolution in support of complete streets this past October and the State has a very minimal law that directs RIDOT directory to consider bicycles and pedestrian use in road projects from 1996, not exactly a Complete Streets poster child there. Unless Ray LaHood has made an executive branch directive that I missed, here is no Federal law or mandate for the Complete Streets(yet!).

    @Bill Lewis – How are the answers to B & C relevant to having a discussion about how to address all the points that Bari raises?

  • Frank
    Dec 23, 2010 at 5:32 am

    Will the study/plan incorporate Middletown and Portsmouth. No parent would allow their child to ride their bike on east main road. Is it reasonably possible to fix those issues as well

  • bgeorge
    Dec 23, 2010 at 6:38 am

    The flexibility of the Complete Street guidelines/regulations that Matt references make it conceivable that the Broadway Streetscape and Traffic Calming Project currently underway could be completed without bike lanes. The City's concern is the danger inherent in placing bike lanes adjacent to back-out diagonal parking. AASTHTO's 2010 guidelines to states, however, recommend "back-in" diagonal parking when adjacent to bike lanes – a system successfully implemented in numerous cities all over the country. See pages 75-76 http://design.transportation.org/Documents/DraftB

    Hopefully input from this and other communities will ensure that Broadway does achieve bike lanes – an important demonstration that "the City of Newport supports and encourages the use of 'complete streets' concepts in the planning and redevelopment of transportation-related improvements within the City of Newport" as stated in the 9/15/10 City Council resolution.

    @Bill Lewis:

    c) since I was a child. I commuted to school as a kid and didn't own a car until I was well into my 20s.

    d) Bike lanes make it safer for people to ride and when it's safer, more people ride. More people riding means less traffic congestion and a healthier population. See points above. i'm oversimplifying, but we'd be hard pressed to find reasons that bike lanes are not a good idea for Newport – or anywhere that they improve safety. The most common objection is that bicyclists do not follow the rules of the road. A master plan or road map for Newport would hopefully include training and enforcement of the rules of the road, beginning in our schools. Most bicyclists are drivers as well and understand the rules. All would benefit if bicyclists too young to drive received instruction on the rules of the road.

  • bgeorge
    Dec 23, 2010 at 6:50 am

    @Frank – unfortunately there is no plan or study other than the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission's Transportation Study which is currently underway. That study addresses bicycle and pedestrian issues in Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth, but only on state roads. Although some officials in all three municipalities are interested and engaged, what kind of planning and implementation take place is to be decided. I suspect it will be determined by municipal interest, commitment and funding.

  • Dec 23, 2010 at 7:01 am

    If Newport is really bike friendly, then where are all the bikes? Yes, it is a perfectly pleasant place for an experienced cyclist to ride, but what about the novice or the tourist? I'm totally comfortable myself riding around Newport, but that doesn't mean I would take my kids for a ride. I'd love to be able to get them down there in the summer and go exploring Newport with them, but with the current conditions I wouldn't feel safe doing so.

    Newport is a great example of a quintessential New England Town, something which is completely navigable by bicycle and foot. Yet, why are there so many cars? Why do people put up with sitting in constant gridlock through the summer months? Are we willing to put up with the current "good enough" conditions or should we be pushing for even better? I'm not sure that bike lanes are the answer, but I'm sure there can be changes to the infrastructure which could significantly improve the safety for cyclists. The country as a whole has been dominated by building transportation infrastructure focused on the personal automobile for the last 50+ years. It's time for city planners to balance this equation.

  • Beth Milham
    Dec 23, 2010 at 8:18 am

    People used to say, "Why spend all this money on ADA, to make public spaces more navigable for people in wheelchairs and on walkers? You never see them out." This kind of chicken and egg question kept able people with disabilities trapped in their homes, unable to be as productive as they could or wanted to be.

    The same applies to bike and pedestrian accommodations. "Build it, and they will come!" Build more highways, and the cars will come. (The worst rolling parking lot I've ever been trapped in was on a 12-lane highway in Toronto, during a normal day's rush hour.) Build more bike lanes, and sidewalks, and cyclists and walkers will come. A benefit for downtown business? Relaxed shoppers who aren't worrying about getting too far from those heard-earned parking spaces and their tyrannical parking meters, and wasting touring time and fuel searching for the next space. Not to mention strolling about without those nasty petroleum byproducts polluting their breathing space and ours, as others search for parking. And include in those side effects the warming climate, and ultimately threatening to drown those businesses in a steadily rising sea level.

    My credentials as a Newporter? Not strong in some eyes. I've only been here since 1966, and the first five years were in Navy housing, so they don't count to a true Newporter. But that housing was in Fort Adams, off Ocean Drive, a road that the State authorities have deemed good for cycling. Over the years, I've been a cyclist, and (am still) a walker. Even in a car, I feel as though I'm taking my life in my hands on that road. As a walker there (rarely,) I was frighteningly at risk for massive trauma.

    I value the opinions of people who come to Newport from other places. Those places may have much in common with us–places whose planners have found other, often better ways to do things, like bike lanes. Rather than looking for reasons to dismiss them out of hand, let's benefit from their experience.

  • Labann
    Dec 23, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Highway and traffic engineering is a critical element of any motor vehicle crash reduction program, but is especially important for the safe movement of pedestrians and bicyclists. States should utilize national guidelines for constructing safe pedestrian and bicycle facilities in all new transportation projects, and are required to follow all Federal regulations on accessibility."—National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006


  • Bill Lewis
    Dec 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    I'll try to keep this short and to the point. There are several reasons bike lanes are a bad idea in general.

    A, Painted stripe bike lanes put you in the gutter where one is more likely to get flat tires from the debris that is swept there by the cars.

    B. Bike lanes put you in the "door zone" where you are more likely to get hit by a door and knocked down. This happens frequently.

    C. A bike lane re-enforces the notion that bikes do not belong on the street in the eyes of drivers and that they are toys.

    This marginalizing of cyclists is in my opinion the worst thing to do. As for Newport in particular the six miles of state road is all two lane and wide enough for bicycle traffic without striping that would again put one in the gutter pan. The state DOT rarely sweeps America's Cup Ave. Or Memorial Blvd. Leaving a lot of debris in the small shoulder of America's Cup. Memorial Blvd has a wide outside lane that is obviously big enough for sharing the lane.

    The remaining 82 miles of roadway in Newport are ciity owned and mostly narrow colonial era one-way streets

    that are too narrow to share or stripe legally acording to USDOT guidelines.

    The reason I asked where the OP was coming from is answered by the statement of not being a cyclist and being afraid to even walk or drive on Qcean Ave.

    I have been carfree my whole life and never had a drivers license, I do this because I beleive in the environmental movement. I am tired of people that drive around with their Save The Bay stickers on their cars.

    Who don't ride but are willing to put my life in danger with a door zone bike lane.

    @ Mark you remind of the surfers from Narragansett who say there are no waves in Newport because they came here once and didn't see any. There are many people who ride here year round and even more in the summer. All kinds of folks like The several road club rides a week many roadbike riders doing the drive, A big bunch of latin american fellows who like me are carfree mostly, hipsters on fixies and beach cruisers, russian kids here for summer jobs and cars with bike racks many of them in the summer time there are a lot of tourists on bikes here. There are a lot of parents with their kids on rides with trail-a-bikes or kids on the sidewalks. In the warmer months the traffic slows down and bikes rule here I pass upwards oof 60 cars on the weekends going across town.

    As for the AIPC study group, I was the only person there who came by bike, remember I wrote a report on it ?

    If anyone would like to ride or get pointers on how to ride in Newport send a message and I'll help you overcome your fear.

    I hope I got to everyones post. If you want to see what is going on the US and the world of advocacy just goolgle Bikeforums.net/ advocacy and safety.

    • Dec 24, 2010 at 9:31 pm

      I'm glad this discussion is happening in this forum, I think this is something the cycling community needs to hash out. In my opinion, part of the problem is that even us cyclists tend to frame the discussions and answers in a car-centric way. Our society is so entrenched with automobiles, it can be hard to pull back and look at the infrastructure with a fresh perspective.

      A, Painted stripe bike lanes put you in the gutter where one is more likely to get flat tires from the debris that is swept there by the cars.

      Only if the bike lane is merely a re-purposed breakdown lane. In many states, they have nice bike lanes, outside an existing breakdown lane. Since they aren't at the edge of the road, bounded by a curb, they don't tend to accumulate the amount of crap bike lanes around here do. Not only that, but the states/cities which do this right have crews who maintain the bike lanes. They are a true part of the infrastructure, not an afterthought.

      B. Bike lanes put you in the “door zone” where you are more likely to get hit by a door and knocked down. This happens frequently.

      … and these would be poorly designed bike lanes. You are absolutely correct, they can be installed in such a way that the provide a false sense of security for the cyclists. However, there are plenty of ways they can be installed in such a manner as to not put the cyclists at risk… in fact make it safer for cyclists. Get ride of parallel parking and replace it with back in diagonal parking. This permits the drivers to easily look out for cars and cyclists as they pull out and it also keeps the door zone completely away from any bike lane. Look at what NYC is doing… they are installing bike lanes where the parked cars serve as a buffer between moving traffic and cyclists.

      I'm not saying that bike lanes are the ultimate answer and there are certainly places where they just don't make sense, but I don't think they should be completely dismissed.

      C. A bike lane re-enforces the notion that bikes do not belong on the street in the eyes of drivers and that they are toys.

      Do HOV lanes marginalize car pooling drivers? Again, it's how you frame the infrastructure. Let's put a different spin on this… wouldn't it be nice to have a dedicated piece of the roadway that only cyclists could use? It would allow you to legally pass backed up traffic. Add a bike box to the mix, where you could legally place yourself in front of motor vehicles so that you can safely cross the intersection first and it does sound pretty darn nice. Under RI law, bikes are technically bound by all motor vehicle laws. Strictly speaking, I doubt it is technically legal for a cyclists to pass jammed up cars on the either the right or the left. All cyclists do this in some way and no cop is ever going to stop you doing this, but I'm not sure it's technically legal.

      I know what you are saying, but I think it's not a failure of bike lanes rather a failure of our driver education system. In conjunction with the advocacy groups, municipalities need to educate drivers and let them know why bike lanes exist and the rights of cyclists. I would NOT be in favor of a situation mandating cyclists use bike lanes at all times, this makes taking a left turn impossible.

      There are a lot of parents with their kids on rides with trail-a-bikes or kids on the sidewalks.

      I wasn't talking about a parent riding with a child on a tag-a-long or in a trailer, what about those kids in the 7+ age range who are skilled enough with a bike, but don't have the street smarts yet? Riding on the sidewalk is an awful solution, it frequently puts the kids in way more danger than riding on the road. Where are the kids who are learning about riding on the road supposed to go? What's going to happen if I come down there and take the lane, so that my kid is safe riding amongst the summer traffic? With a properly designed bike lane or adequate cycling infrastructure, kids could enjoy the pleasures of riding around Newport again.

      @ Bill, how would you propose we accommodate this age group?

  • bgeorge
    Dec 24, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Thank you Bill and Mark for all of your points. I'm going to reply briefly simply because time is not on my side at the moment – two pies in the oven and not finished wrapping (!) and I'll be offline for the next several days and did not want to be absent completely. A few notes:

    1. Full agreement that bike lanes are only sometimes appropriate and that sharrows and otherwise noted shared space is often preferred. Reading my original post, i can see how my use of 'bike lanes' could raise concerns that designated lanes are the preferred method. That was not my intention. I meant to use the term broadly to include all on-road markings, including shared lanes.

    2. As Mark also noted, maintenance has to be part of the plan, not an afterthought.

    3. As even this brief conversation illustrates, there is no yes/no, black/white about bicycle/pedestrian planning for Newport. It's a complex landscape, but, as I noted from the start, every challenge faced, every question asked on this page, has been addressed in other cities and communities and those answers, where successful, can be very informative to us. My proposal is to research successful models – or more accurately, part of models – and use them to help us create a program here in Newport that respects bicycles, cars, pedestrians – all users of the roads – and in doing so, encourages folks to use modes of transport other than their cars.

    4. @ Bill – I think from your comment ("The reason I asked where the OP was coming from is answered by the statement of not being a cyclist and being afraid to even walk or drive on Qcean Ave.") that you've confused me with another writer, Beth, who did express concerns about Ocean Ave. I cycle often and though my concerns about safety do not stop me from riding, I do believe there are many opportunities for improvement. I am not car-free, but I ride as often as possible, and, like you, I am often the only one arriving at meetings on my bicycle. I look forward to meeting you at a bike rack 🙂

    5. aMia Berk, formerly the bicycle planner for Portland, OR and now CEO of Alta Planning, just released a great book "Joy Ride" which tells the story of Portland's transformation. I am not suggesting that Newport is a parallel city, but that the process of overcoming obstacles, and even some of the specific obstacles overcome, are very relevant to what lies ahead for Newport if we are to improve and encourage bicycling as a mode of transport. It's a great book, hugely informative and a great read.

    Apologies for cutting my reply short. I look forward to continuing next week and beyond and wish everyone a happy holiday weekend. Cheers, Bari

  • sclemens
    Dec 27, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I've been a bike commuter in Cambridge and Boston, MA for
    six-plus years. (I bike to work year-round — including this week
    in the snow.) Cambridge has implemented extensive bike lanes
    throughout its streets. I believe I can speak fairly to their usage
    and effect. "A, Painted stripe bike lanes put you in the gutter
    where one is more likely to get flat tires from the debris that is
    swept there by the cars." The reality is quite the opposite, at
    least the way they've been implemented in Cambridge. On most
    streets bike lanes are separate and to the inside of the gutter
    space. You are up on the true road surface. I find the conditions
    better (including snow plowing!) significantly better when a bike
    lane is available. "B. Bike lanes put you in the “door zone” where
    you are more likely to get hit by a door and knocked down. This
    happens frequently." You're already in the door zone without a bike
    lane because you're biking on the right side of the car lane. Two
    things to keep in mind: 1. When you don't have a bike lane, you
    don't have room to maneuver if a door in a parked car suddenly
    opens. You might have a semi passing you in the shared car lane and
    forcing you up against the parked cars. You're screwed. At least
    with a bike lane, you have a guaranteed chunk of road that you're
    not sharing with that semi. 2. Drivers are less likely to see you
    when getting out of a parked car because they are looking for cars
    in the car lane. With a bike lane present, drivers exiting vehicles
    are more likely to think and look for a biker. I've seen and
    benefited from this too many times to count. Bike lane = increased
    awareness of bikes. "C. A bike lane re-enforces the notion that
    bikes do not belong on the street in the eyes of drivers and that
    they are toys." Again…the reality is the opposite. Bike lanes
    make bikes first-class citizens on the road. We have visible,
    obvious rights laid out in black & white paint on the road
    itself! Here's another example of bike-lane awareness: a car going
    in your direction ahead of you turns right onto a side street.
    Without a bike lane, that car might initiate the turn but then stop
    for a crosswalk and block your path. If they did this abruptly, you
    might not have time to stop. I've seen bike accidents from this.
    With a bike lane, motorists treat the extra lane like a lane on a
    highway — they check to their right before crossing into it. I
    frequently have cars wait in their lane for me to pass in the bike
    lane before turning across my lane. Bottom line, bike lanes give
    you: – more space – better surface – increased awareness &
    respect from drivers Speaking from experience, I would highly
    recommend bike lanes for Newport's busier roads.

  • Labann
    Dec 29, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    ^Thanks, Samuel Clemens, for articulately remarking on twanes, er, lanes. Besides striped lanes, there are many potential accommodations for bicycling: a) adjoining bikepaths next to sidewalk inside of parking, b) bike-ped bridges or intersection bypasses/boxes, c) cars on subways and trains that allow bikes, d) dedicated bikeways , e) over/under passes across highways, railroads and waterways, f) quieted boulevards and sidestreets, g) route signs directing cyclists, h) sharrows that share lanes with other traffic (cyclists ARE traffic, too), i) racks and storage, j) training for motorists, and k) uninterrupted corridors consisting of a – i with special requirements to suitably maintain and sweep. Collectively, they make "Bikes belong" clear policy and meet "Complete Streets" compliance.

  • Bill Lewis
    Dec 29, 2010 at 5:30 pm


    I have been to Caimbridge and Boston many times and I am aware of what passes for bike lanes and their condition.

    Most of the lanes are just paint on the side of road in the gutter pan or next to parked cars. I have pictures that I took in Caimbridge but I can't hyperlink them. I saw door zone lanes or dirty and crud filled gutters. Trucks and cars double parked on the lanes and plenty of grates.

    This is how it is on Mass. Ave., on Broadway and Harvard St., Prospect, Caimbridge St. and Cardinal Mederios.

    I did not see one segregated bike lane and these are the main roads in Caimbridge.

    The traffic on Mass Ave is not that fast and I would never ride in the DZ lanes when I can easily keep up with the stop and go 20 MPH traffic. The speed doesn't start to pick up speed until Arligton.

    And I do not ride in the door zone paint stripe or not, I take my place in the travel lane where a motorist is't going to right hook me like you describe, again I have pictures of the bike lane terminating at an intersection leaving the cyclist at a spot where drivers turning right will squeeze you into the curb or worse.


    I see your fantasy of unlimited budget for bikes and raise you the reality of Rhode Island, We are broke and will be broke for a long time. there is no money for sweeping the streets often enough much less all the new infrastructure that would be built for a few segregationists to feel comfortable letting their children ride.

    If you stopped thinking in an auto-centric mindset of not bothering drivers and think about this.

    Bicyclists are the best way to calm traffic

    meaning we slow them down instead of letting them speed by at 35MPH with only a little bit of paint between you and them.

    A better approach would be to lobby for slower speed limits of 15 or 20 MPH. If bicyclists took the lane with this slower speed we could achieve safety at a lower cost.

    Make the police work, I can't stress this enough, the problem is we have to pay for these overpaid bullies we might as well have them enforce traffic laws including our close passing law that was enacted last year.

    Agressive drivers are the biggest problem we have, we need them educated with questions on the drivers exam and charged with crimes of assault with a deadly weapon if they are roadragers and 2nd. degree murder if they kill.

    The riding of bicycles is a safe activity and it needs to be shown as such, I can't remember the last fatality in Newport if there was one since I was in high school.

    People getting doored and hooked due to filtering at stop signs and lights seem to be the most common causes of injury. These can be reduced by folks taking the lane or at least the right tire line.

    In Newport, traffic is good as it makes riding very safe due to the slow speeds.

    As long as people can get here by car they will. If you take into account the width of the streets here and the fact that no merchant or resident will ever give up any parking on the streets. Only if gasoline hits five dollars a gallon or will we see more cyclists on the road.

    I hazzard to say I might be the only one who doesn't drive who is posting here. Maybe this gives me a better grasp on the fact that we the pedestrians and cyclists have a right to the road and operators have a privilege given by us to use our roads and they should respect the righs of other road users and they are not "the most important person in the world".

  • Dec 29, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I see your fantasy of unlimited budget for bikes and raise you the reality of Rhode Island, We are broke and will be broke for a long time. there is no money for sweeping the streets often enough much less all the new infrastructure that would be built for a few segregationists to feel comfortable letting their children ride.

    I'm not advocating for increased budgets, rather a rebalancing of the existing budgets. It's high time that cities and towns start giving pedestrians and cyclists their fair share of the transportation infrastructure. If they can't possibly accommodate people powered movement, then perhaps they should ban cars. Yes, I know this is radical and yes I know it's a pipe dream, but why should we not talk about this? It's going to take years, decades… who knows how long, but if we don't start pushing on our city and town planners, it will never happen.

    Why is it a fantasy to see a future where children can safely travel from place to place on a bicycle? They do it in Europe. Many places in Europe have segregated services, why, because they are safer if given the option. How did they accomplish this? They took room AWAY from cars… either parking or entire travel lanes. If you could have a completely segregated cycle path that went along the main drags, why wouldn't you want this?

    A better approach would be to lobby for slower speed limits of 15 or 20 MPH. If bicyclists took the lane with this slower speed we could achieve safety at a lower cost.

    I agree that it's quite natural for cyclists to ride in the middle of the lane when they can keep up with automobiles. However, ask your average person on the street how fast they can ride a bicycle… you'll find very few who can sustain 15mph let alone 20mph. Go a step further and talk with your co-workers or friends about dumping their cars and getting on a bike and what's the most likely reason they will say they won't? Safety. Some of this is perceived and is the result of a lack of training on the part of cyclists… but then again, should cyclists require special training? Do pedestrians receive special training? I'd like to see a state where anyone feels comfortable either walking out or riding out their door and going wherever they want. They shouldn't have to think about whether or not they will get run over by a car.

    I hazzard to say I might be the only one who doesn’t drive who is posting here.

    I know for a fact this isn't the case. You are definitely in the minority… but not alone. One of the nice things about this blog, and the people who work behind the scenes, is that they are all transportational cyclists. Very few of the cyclists involved with this group just go out for weekend rides, most use their bikes on a daily basis, for transportation. I do own a car and I do drive, small children make this mode of transportation more convenient at times. However, I put about 6K miles on bikes in a year and it's been five years since I've put more miles on my car, than other modes of transportation, in a year.

  • Stephen Miller
    Dec 30, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    This is very exciting. I'm a native Newporter who has since moved away, but a corner of my heart wants to eventually return. I grew up riding bikes everywhere around town and have since dipped my toe into bicycle and pedestrian advocacy in my adopted hometown of Washington, DC.

    As has been said, Newport is the perfect place for a robust walking and bicycling culture. We have great bones to start with – significant numbers of (but not enough) people walking and biking already, tourists, a majority of the year with weather friendly to fair-weather cyclists and a wonderful sense of community. Most importantly, our compactness means that most trips cover short distances that are often easier to do by bike or foot – even without our summer congestion problems.

    I emailed someone in the city a few years ago about back-in parking and bike lanes on Broadway but never got a response. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that this would be an ideal treatment for Broadway. There are lots of other opportunities to discuss – bike boulevards and sharrows to keep our side streets quiet, sidepaths along Ocean Drive, cycle tracks on America’s Cup and Memorial Boulevard, social marketing campaigns to encourage short trips by bike or foot, bikeshare – you name it.

    In order to be effective, bike/walk advocacy in Newport needs to become better organized – the developments at a statewide level are exciting and encouraging, but I’d love a get-together of everyone in Newport interested in making the city and the island a better place to walk or bike. Invite the public in, advertise it in the Daily News, WADK, Newport Now/NTW, Patch.com. Let’s figure out how we should organize and and let’s make it real!

  • Bill Lewis
    Jan 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    @Mark : I don't think many people that ride a bike would have trouble keeping up twelve to fifteen MPH. Unless you want to include a bunch of obese out of shape people who aren't riding now to puff up your point.

    I just live here what do I know? There is nothing wrong with Newport now, as I have spent my life riding here. And many people ride here now and thousands have in the past. Can you find the last fatality in Newport? Because I can't. So why spend all this money on something that is of dubious value? The best way to make a safe street is to calm the traffic. It is especialy true with the narrow colonial streets of Newport. There is no more room segregate we have to share the road/take the lane. No one wants to give up parking just so chicken little can wobble down a bike lane instead of learning to ride first with a LAB 1 road course.

    Children should learn to ride in parking lots or large playgrounds and should be able to keep up with adults before riding in the street, and many parents say that having kids ride with them causes slower driving around their families.

    I don't get your desire for segregation of cyclists and that you do not understand how segregated facilities marginalize cyclists in the eyes of motorists. I want to slow traffic down not allow it speed by at my elbow. What is wrong with something that doesn't cost any more money than is only spent now? I understand you use the East Bay MUP to commute, maybe you're just too used to being there.

    As far as roadway dollars are spent, at what level are you refering to? State or local? As I wrote earlier Newport has 88 miles of road and only 6 miles are state funded. Newport has been doing a good amount of paving on the roads that I pay for with my property tax and I want to use the full lane when I think I need to for my safety.

    I really wish you would go to bikeforum site and read what advocates all over the country and beyond think about bicycle advocacy and safety.

  • Jan 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    @Bill: I think it's unlikely we are going to see eye-to-eye for many years to come. We clearly choose to view the current state of affairs through slightly different colored lenses. So let me take a shot at rephrases the fundamental question…

    I think we can both agree that overall, a fairly small percentage of people in Newport choose to get around by bicycle. Most, choose their personal automobile for trips that are farther than one can quickly walk. Why is that? What would it take to get more people out on bikes to cover those greater distances? As for who could be out biking, I'd argue we should be promoting everyone get out… especially those people who are obese or elderly and for which 15mph or more is a challenge. These are two groups of people for which the biking is a low impact exercise and need encouragement to get out more.

    Suggesting that people enroll in a LAB course is a great idea and we can look at bringing the classes down into Newport. But what else? If you poll your co-workers, neighbors, and visitors you see in Newport what would it take to get them to leave their cars at home and ride a bike/walk instead?

  • Steve
    Jan 26, 2011 at 8:06 am

    I am working on starting a youth-driven bike share/rental in the Newport area. Imagine 5-10 bike share/rental stations appropriately situated and how convenient it could be for locals and visitors. We will need all the help we can get but the City, seems interested and willing to coopeate.

    Steve Heath